Historic shipwreck discovered off Southern California coast

Officials said Tuesday while announcing its discovery that strong currents and an abundance of sediment would make moving the ship too hard.

The Coast Guard Cutter McCulloch collided with a passenger ship and sank when dense fog rolled onto the Southern California coast on June 13, 1917.

McCulloch rests on the ocean floor off of Point Conception near the 1917 collision site. On Tuesday, June 13, 2017, officials will host a news conference to highlight the ship’s history and to pay tribute to the ship and its crews, including two crewmen who died in the line of duty.

Coast Guard Rear Adm. Todd Sokalzuk called the ship “a symbol of hard work and sacrifice of previous generations to serve and protect our nation” and an important piece of history. Researchers had focused on the area of the shipwreck, near Point Conception, California, after noticing an abundance of fish.

Although its crew was rescued, one crewman later died of his injuries. Sunken ships offer a great place for fish to hide. The site is about 150 miles northwest of Los Angeles. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Coast Guard discovered the wreck last fall during a routine survey.

In its heyday, the Coast Guard Cutter McCulloch – commissioned in 1897 as a cruising cutter for the U.S. Treasury’s Revenue Cutter Service, a predecessor of the Coast Guard – saw its share of action, having served with Commodore George Dewey in the Battle of Manila Bay in 1898 as part of the U.S. Asiatic Squadron that destroyed the Spanish Pacific fleet in the first major battle of the Spanish-American War.

After the war, the McCulloch was sent to Hong Kong to deliver news of the American victory, before eventually returning to its homeport of San Francisco, where it cruised the Pacific Coast from Mexico to Alaska. Afterward, it was used to run patrols up and down the U.S. Pacific coast, and it operated in the Bering Sea Patrol, serving as a floating courtroom for remote Alaskan towns and as a base for officers to enforce fur seal regulations. Using historic photos and records of the vessel, the researchers were able to match its 11-foot (3 m) bronze propeller, the 15-inch (38 centimeters) torpedo tube set in the bow stem, the steam engine and boilers, among other features.

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