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Ghost Ships of the San Francisco Bay

After a long pandemic pause, the Corinthian Speaker Series will return in 2022. At the first event on Thursday, February 3, Pat Broderick and Garland Sloan will present Ghost Ships of the San Francisco Bay.

The program will start at 7 p.m. in the grand ballroom at Corinthian Yacht Club in Tiburon. Masks are required, but reservations are not, and admission is free.

The first ship to enter San Francisco Bay was the Spanish packet San Carlos, commanded by Lieutenant Juan Manuel de Ayala, on August 5, 1775. The San Carlos departed September 18, 1775. Since that day, not all ships have departed the Bay — or arrived — successfully.

How many shipwrecks lie scattered on the floor of the Bay, or in nearby waters or in landfill? Few of us are aware of these relics from San Francisco’s maritime past, many of them forgotten for a century or more. Yet every day Bay Area residents pass over long-buried ships. Some Muni riders even tunnel through a ship on their daily commute. This program will bring to mind again some of the steam schooners, Gold Rush ships, Golden Gate wrecks and US Navy ships that forever remain ‘ghosts’ in our waters, if not in our memories.

USS Benevolence lies awash on her side
The USS Benevolence, a Navy hospital ship, lies sunk and awash about 3 miles off Lands End just south of the shipping channel. “You can see how shallow the water is, and how the ship at 74 feet wide is just beneath the surface,” says Pat Broderick. “That’s why in 1952 the Navy had her blown up with something like 140,000 pounds of explosive. You can see one of the lifeboats still attached to the wreck. They could not launch many of them due to the ship’s quick heel to port and lack of drill by the crew.”
© 2022 US Coast Guard
Map of SF Entrance
The site of the sinking.
© 2022 Courtesy Pat Broderick

Pat Broderick has sailed on San Francisco Bay since 1971. He became interested in San Francisco Bay nautical archeology when a tugboat engineer neighbor came home with wine bottles from a Gold Rush-era ship uncovered by construction along the old Embarcadero. Pat is well known to Bay Area racers, as both a race organizer and competitor, currently sailing his Wyliecat 30 Nancy.

Pat Broderick
Pat Broderick with the Wyliecat 30 trophy.
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

A young US Navy Corpsman, Garland Sloan was aboard the USS Benevolence on the day it sank in 1950. Garland can, and will, recount his experience after the sinking with stunning recall and detail.

USS Benevolence in Bikini Lagoon
The USS Benevolence in Bikini Lagoon in 1946.
© 2022 US Navy
Nurses in long dresses
The nurses aboard the Benevolence were wearing the wool-skirt version of the official Navy Nurse uniform when they abandoned ship. The lifejackets issued to them had crotch straps to keep them down.
© 2022 US Navy


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