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WWII Ship Sunk In Oceania Shows Up In Dried-Up Californian Lake – Officials Have No Idea How It Got There

Eisenhower served aboard the "ghost boat" during World War II.

James Felton

James Felton

Senior Staff Writer

clockOct 12 2022, 13:59 UTC
A rusty small ship sits in the bed of a dried up desert lake.
Huh. Image credit:

Alongside an unnerving number of dead bodies, droughts in the US have brought out a new mystery: how did a boat that sank by an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean during World War II end up in a dried-up Californian reservoir?

On Sunday, the Shasta-Trinity National Forest put out a number of social media posts about the boat, discovered while the water was low at Shasta Lake.

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"The mystery begins with the painted numbers found on the ramp when the boat was moved," the team wrote of the boat on Facebook. "It is marked '31-17'. This confirms it as a boat assigned to the Attack Transport USS Monrovia."

The ship Monrovia was used as a floating headquarters for general George S. Patton during the invasion of Sicily during World War II. America's 34th President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, served on the ship at that time and in subsequent battles.

"It went on to a further 6 D-Day invasions in the Pacific," Shasta-Trinity National Forest explained on Facebook. "Reportedly it was used in the invasion of Tarawa. It names the crew and states that it sank in shallow water during that invasion."

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The ship was later salvaged during the invasion of the Japanese-held Gilbert Islands by the US and sold for scrap in 1969, but nobody is clear how the smaller troop transport boat ended up in the US and at the bottom of a lake. It's possible that whoever bought the scrap metal of the boat attempted to float it, before quickly discovering it was not reservoir-worthy.

The ship, which was actually discovered last fall, is now being preserved ahead of being displayed at a Nebraska museum.

"Any 'restoration' will be done to preserve as much of the integrity of the boat as possible and will hopefully preserve it in a weathered 'combat fatigue' look," the team wrote on Facebook.

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"There is more to discover of its history and obviously its time on Shasta Lake, and still the circumstance of its sinking remains a mystery."


natureNaturenatureenvironment
  • tag
  • environment,

  • California,

  • drought,

  • boats,

  • World War 2,

  • wwii,

  • weird and wonderful

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