Curious, he did a Google search for the Conestoga and looked up its length.
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Jones had 55 men aboard as he prepared to leave Mare Island first for Pearl Harbor and then their new duty station in American Samoa. It was a big crew for a tugboat.
The “mystery tug boat” was a U.S. Navy ship that had disappeared without a trace in 1921.
But the Conestoga was a seagoing vessel needing round-the-clock watches. And it was carrying some Navy passengers. Jones, 41, was the son of Kansas homesteaders, Gollnitz, his granddaughter, said last week. He enlisted in and worked his way up to warrant officer, ensign and lieutenant, according to the Naval History and Heritage Command.
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Jones had been married for seven years to the former Loretta Fogarty, of Newport, R. They had an infant daughter, Paula, who had just been christened. Gollnitz has a photograph of a proud Jones smoking a cigar and holding his daughter in her christening dress.
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He had come aboard the Conestoga only 12 days earlier, replacing a sailor whose enlistment was probably expiring. Louis Anthony Marchione, 21, a fireman 3rd class, sent his pay home to help out his family in Brooklyn. His parents received his last letter three days after the ship sank. He was about 17 when he enlisted in , and he posed for a photograph shortly thereafter.
30 dramatic accounts of yachts lost at sea
As Jones sailed the Conestoga from Norfolk, through the Panama Canal to San Diego, his wife and daughter traveled across the country to say goodbye, Gollnitz said in an interview. And my grandmother and mother saw him off. A photographer took a series of striking pictures of Jones and his crew during the stop in San Diego. The Conestoga, with its 1,horsepower engine, steamed into the Pacific under clear skies that Friday, but against rising winds a nd seas.
Indications on the wreck suggest it may have been towing a barge, which would have complicated its situation. But NOAA did not find a barge of that vintage nearby. The wind was blowing 40 to 48 mph and the waves were high. The NOAA report says the rough seas probably washed over the ship, perhaps smashing its wheelhouse windows.
Sunk Without Trace: 30 dramatic accounts of yachts lost at sea: Paul Gelder: Adlard Coles
The crew could not pump the water out fast enough, and Jones was probably making for the shelter of Southeast Farallon Island, which had a lighthouse. But the evidence was inconclusive, Schwemmer said, and the search for survivors was conducted far away.
In , Gollnitz and her mother sailed from San Francisco via Pearl Harbor for Thailand to join her father, who was stationed there in the Army. After 95 years, a Navy ship lost at sea with all hands is finally discovered.