In Photos: Century-Old Sunken Ship Found

Cruising cutter

mcculloch shipwreck

(Image credit: Mare Island Museum)

During an underwater search off the coast of California, researchers found the wreck a U.S. Coast Guard ship that sank 100 years ago. Though the vessel is now just a steel skeleton at the bottom of the seafloor, the researchers were able to identify it as the McCulloch. [Read the full story on the McCulloch shipwreck]

The McCulloch had a 20-year career that included battles in the Spanish-American war and patrols along the Alaskan coast. The ship met its end on the foggy morning of June 13, 1917, when it collided with the SS Governor, a passenger steamship.

McCulloch sinks

mcculloch shipwreck

(Image credit: San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park_K03.7.068.3p)

According to accounts of the accident, the crew stood at attention in their lifeboats as their ship went down.

One casualty

mcculloch shipwreck

(Image credit: San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park_ K036.07068.1o)

Everyone made it off the vessel alive, but one crewmember, John Arvid Johansson, died a few days later. Robert Grassow, a carpenter aboard the McCulloch, described finding a badly injured Johansson in his bunk and bringing him off the boat: “There was nobody else around, so I took some of the wreckage away and there was a piece of wood eight inches long stuck in his side. The master-at-arms passed the word for men to carry him to a surf boat.”

First clues

mcculloch shipwreck

(Image credit: E/V Nautilus Multibeam Sonar Survey 2015)

A previous multibeam sonar survey conducted in 2015 identified a shipwreck site off Point Conception, California.

Search tools

mcculloch shipwreck

(Image credit: Robert V. Schwemmer NOAA)

Then in October 2016, researchers sent this VideoRay Mission Specialist remotely operated vehicle (ROV) down to the seafloor to investigate further.

Torpedo tube

mcculloch shipwreck

(Image credit: Robert V. Schwemmer/NOAA)

The researchers first confirmed that the sunken vessel they found was in fact the McColloch by identifying its 15-inch torpedo tube molded into the bow stem, now covered with anemones.

Propeller blade

mcculloch shipwreck

(Image credit: NOAA/USCG/VideoRay)

They spotted other notable features like this blade from the ship's 11-foot bronze propeller, now sticking out of the seafloor sediment.

Ghost ship full of life

mcculloch shipwreck

(Image credit: NOAA/USCG/VideoRay)

Today, the wreck hosts a diversity of marine creatures. The vermillion rockfish shown here is swimming around a skylight collapsed inside the officer's quarters.

[Read the full story on the McCulloch shipwreck]