Cruise Ship Sinking

Cruise Ship Sinking
Steam Ship City of Chester Sinking August 22, 1888

16 Die in RMS Oceanic Collision Found By NOAA on Apr 23, 2014 in San Francisco Bay

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Steam Ship City of Chester Sinking August 22, 1888

16 Die in RMS Oceanic Collision Found By NOAA on Apr 23, 2014 in San Francisco Bay

On August 22, 1888 the Steam Ship, "The City of Chester" was outbound from port as RMS Oceanic was inbound and the two collided. Of the 90 passengers on The City of Chester only 13 passengers and 3 crew died.

Steam Ship City of Chester
SS City of Chester.
(Credit: San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park K01.2.571PL)

The ship was found by a predecessor of NOAA, the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, in September 1888, during a geodetic survey using a wire dragged from a tug named, "Raymond". It was rediscovered 400 feet away in May 2013 by NOAA, Office of Coast Survey Navigational Response Team 6 using a multi-beam sonar where it was located under 217 feet (66 m) of water, just inside the Golden Gate Bridge. NOAA waited until months later to present its findings publicly, after sorting through heaps of data and sonar imagery.

The SS City of Chester built in 1875 at 202 feet long was rammed by the 704 feet long RMS Oceanic near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco Bay on August 22, 1888 around 10:00am. Weather conditions were dense fog and strong currents as the City of Chester and RMS Oceanic frantically used signal whistles to locate the exact position of the other ship. The City of Chester was outbound to Eureka, California when the inbound RMS Oceanic from Hong Kong came into view. The two ships could not prevent the RMS Oceanic from embedding itself in the hull of the City of Chester.

The Oceanic Crew was Chinese with around a thousand passengers who were all Chinese immigrants. At this time US anti-Chinese xenophobia was at a peak and initial reports indicated the Chinese let the City of Chester's passengers drown. Later the true details emerged of Chinese passenger and crew efforts to save the souls on the City of Chester and prejudice against the Chinese began to diminish.

Steam Ship City of Chester Sinking August 22, 1888
Newspaper illustration of the collision between
RMS Oceanic and SS City of Chester.
(Credit: Illustration: San Francisco Chronicle)

From researching this story we found many indications of how fast this news report spread in 1888. Consider the incident occurred around 10:00 am on 22 August in 1888 and a news clip from the, "New Zealand Herald" reported by a San Francisco Correspondent featured the news in the, "Old American Letter" dated 25 August 1888, only three days later.

Resources
  • NOAA City of Chester Shipwreck
  • Wkiipedia SS City of Chester
  • San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park
  • Cruise Awareness Buzz!