The discovery of a deteriorating hulk of a ship in just 189 feet of water, 27 miles outside of San Francisco’s Golden Gate, resolved the question of what had happened and where lay the wreck of the USS Conestoga (AT-54), one of only 18 U.S. Navy ships that disappeared, never to be seen again in the years before World War II.
On 25 March 1921, the Conestoga had departed Mare Island Navy Yard with orders to proceed to Pearl Harbor. From there, she would steam to American Samoa to take up duties as station ship in that distant South Pacific outpost. Passing out of the Golden Gate that afternoon, the tug and 56 men never reached Pearl Harbor. A garbled radio message, a battered, drifting lifeboat discovered by a passing steamer off Mexico’s coast, and a single life vest with the lost tug’s name found cast up on a California beach were the only clues. Two extensive searches by sea and air failed to find any trace of the Conestoga through the summer of 1921.