In 1914, "sister" steamers Frank H. Buck and Lyman Stewart were both christened within six months of each other. Years later, both sank in central California waters near NOAA's Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. Though their demises happened 15 years apart, in an astonishing coincidence, the two ships sank in virtually the same location near San Francisco Bay. Their engines are still visible at low tide.
NOAA is in the forefront of investigating many shipwrecks off our coasts. Recently, NOAA's Office of Coast Survey completed the first-ever sonar survey of the submerged portions of the Frank H. Buck and Lyman Stewart. Additionally, NOAA maritime archaeologists, along with professional wreck divers, are now conducting new research and sonar surveys on a number of shipwrecks in Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary and the adjacent Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Recently, the 1910 shipwreck, the SS Selja identity was confirmed. This wreck was featured prominently in a legal case that ultimately was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court over a key aspect of maritime law, the “rule of the road.”
The Gulf of Farallones National Marine Sanctuary is located near San Francisco Bay. In these nearly 1,300 square miles there are over 300 shipwrecks, many of which have yet to be discovered. These shipwrecks span a broad range of time, from the mid-1800s to the 1950s and can act as one of the great undersea museums of the nation. They tell the story of the people who helped build California and opened the United States to the Pacific. They link the past to the present.
Did you know?
In addition to the sonar surveys of the Frank H. Buck and Lyman Stewart and the discovery of the SS Selja, NOAA researchers have also located the 1863 wreck of the clipper ship Noonday, currently obscured by mud and silt on the ocean floor. These and other shipwreck investigations mark the first mission of a two-year project to locate, identify, and better understand some of the estimated 300 wrecks in Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary and the adjacent Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Learn more