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Historic Shipwreck Near San Francisco Tells Tale of Heroism

historic shipwreck

Location of the City of Chester shipwreck / Photo credit: Robert V. Schwemmer, NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries

NOAA recently identified a 19th-century shipwreck near the Golden Gate Bridge as the passenger steamship City of Chester, according to the Maritime-Executive. A future waterfront exhibit will tell the tragic tale of the shipwreck, which claimed the lives of 16 of the ship’s 90 passengers, the article explained.

How Did The Ship Sink?

historic shipwreck

SS City of Chester / Photo credit: San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park K01.2.571PL

The 202-foot-long City of Chester sank back in August of 1888 after another steamer called the Oceanic accidentally crashed into it on a particularly foggy morning, the article explained. The steamship had only just set sail from San Francisco when the collision occurred with the Oceanic, which was just arriving from Asia.

The City of Chester reportedly stayed above water only six minutes before it sank to its final resting place. While no plans are in place to raise the historic shipwreck, many wish to share the history of the ship to honor both the memory of the lives lost and the heroism of those who rescued passengers from the sinking ship.

A Forgotten Shipwreck & A Tale Of Heroism

While the location of the shipwreck was known to NOAA’s predecessor agency 125 years ago and veteran salvage divers, it faded from memory over the years and was lost to time. The shipwreck was only recently re-discovered via NOAA sonar surveys last May and its identity confirmed as the City of Chester this year.

Research into the shipwreck offered a glimpse of San Francisco’s early Chinese-American community and racial tensions at that time in history, the article noted. While news reports at the time originally cast blame at the Chinese crew of the Oceanic for the tragedy, that contempt eventually turned to acclaim. Eventually, it came to light that the Oceanic crew bravely worked to rescue many passengers on board the City of Chester and their heroism was commended, the article explained.

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