More than 300 ships are believed to be buried in the waters west of San Francisco in the Gulf of the Farallones, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). During a recent five-day expedition, a team of NOAA researchers report three new vessels have been discovered: the SS Selja, a cargo steamship that sank in 1910; an unidentified early steam tugboat; and the Noonday, a 19th century clipper ship that sank in 1863 and is currently obscured by mud and silt on the ocean floor.
Using a remote-controlled underwater vehicle that is equipped with sonar and video cameras, NOAA will spend two years working to locate and identify the wrecks that took place in the decades following the Gold Rush.
"The Gulf of the Farallones is a graveyard of ships," NOAA's maritime heritage director James Delgado tells the Associated Press. "Every one of these accidents, every one of these sinkings, has its own dramatic story to tell."
The latest investigation took place near the Farallon Islands, about 30 miles west of the Golden Gate Bridge. The 380-foot SS Selja, which was transporting goods from China to San Francisco, sank west of Point Reyes on November 22, 1910 after being trapped in heavy fog and colliding with another ship, the SS Beaver. Two Chinese crew members were never found, but everyone else was rescued. The sonar-identified Noonday was transporting cargo from Boston when it hit some rocks north of the Farallones, now called “Noonday Rock.”