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Coast Guard discovers 100-year-old ship in California

Posted at 11:14 PM, Jun 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-14 23:14:41-04

POINT CONCEPTION, CA (KCOY/KEYT/CNN) - A historic shipwreck has been discovered off the coast of California.

The ship served in the Spanish-American war and sank off Point Conception.

It was the first look at the wreckage left behind, a century after the Coast Guard Cutter McCulloch was lost in a collision at sea.

The ship began its career during the Spanish-American war and sank June 13, 1917.

NOAA and the Coast Guard made the discovery in Oct., releasing this footage to the public Tuesday, 100 years to the day since the ship went down.

They released it to highlight the ship's history and to pay tribute to the ship and its crews.

Greg Gorga, executive director of the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, said there were hundreds of shipwrecks like the McCulloch in the Santa Barbara channel, waiting to be discovered.

"Point Conception, we call that the graveyard of the Pacific or the Cape Horn of the Pacific. It's not uncommon for sailors to have big problems there," Gorga said.

The crew of the McCulloch was lucky, all members were rescued by the ship they collided with in dense fog.

One crewman died from injuries days later.

What makes conception so dangerous?

Greg pointed out that it's an area where warm water meets cold water coming down from Alaska.

“That all meets at Point Conception, so not uncommon for high winds, big swells and heavy fog," Gorga said.

Point Conception was also the scene of the largest naval disaster during peacetime in U.S. history when 14 navy destroyers en route from San Francisco to San Diego hit the coastline.

Seven of them sank in just five minutes.

"You do learn a lot from these shipwrecks, and you can also learn a lot about exactly what part of the ship was damaged," Gorga said.

Officials have not determined plans for the next phase of exploration of the McCulloch.   

But no portion of any government wreck may be disturbed or removed.

Copyright 2017 KCOY, KEYT via CNN. All rights reserved.