First images of 'Titanic of the Golden Gate' revealed

Story highlights

  • A 1901 San Francisco Bay shipwreck has been found
  • SS City of Rio de Janeiro struck rocks and sank within minutes
  • Some 128 of 210 passengers were killed
  • The government is using donated 3D technology to find shipwrecks in the area
It's known as "the Titanic of the Golden Gate."
There was a thick morning fog the morning of February 22, 1901, when the SS City of Rio de Janeiro struck jagged rocks at Fort Point near where the Golden Gate Bridge now stands.
The name for the famous bridge comes from the Golden Gate Strait, which is the name of the entrance to the San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean.
The ship sank within 10 minutes, killing 128 of the 210 passengers and crew aboard the ship. The ship was filled with mostly Chinese and Japanese emigrants. The U.S. Consul-General in Hong Kong, who was returning to the United States on leave with his wife and two children, was also on board. The entire family died in the tragedy.
Nearby fishermen rescued the survivors clinging to makeshift rafts and flotsam.
The shipwreck was the highest loss of life at the Golden Gate, and both the captain (who went down with the ship) and pilot (who survived) were found guilty of gross negligence.
Now the first modern images of the ship have been released -- and the detailed sonar pictures and three-dimensional images of City of Rio taken in November are amazing.
Although salvagers had found the wreck in the 1980s, its exact location was hard to pinpoint during the latest search because the 1980s coordinates didn't match U.S. government sonar data of wrecks in the area.
Documenting the shipwreck in 287 feet of dark, muddy water was part of a two-year study by the U.S. National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries Maritime Heritage Program. The study is intended to document shipwrecks in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary.
"We are undertaking this exploration of the San Francisco Bay in part to learn more about its maritime heritage as well as to test recent advances in technology that will allow us to better protect and understand the rich stories found beneath the Bay's waters," said James Delgado, director of maritime heritage for NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, in a press release.
So far, the agency has mapped nine of nearly 200 ships, including the SS City of Chester, which was rediscovered late last year near the City of Rio.
Hibbard Inshore and Bay Marine Services donated a research vessel and crew, and a high-powered remotely operated vehicle, to find and map the City of Rio de Janeiro wreck site using Coda Octopus's three-dimensional Echoscope sonar.