Mission San Miguel found sunk off of Hawaiian coast
Researchers find sunken military vessel missing for decades
– While diving off of the coast of Hawaii, researchers discovered the USNS Mission San Miguel, a large US naval tanker that had been sitting unseen under 80 feet of water for nearly 60 years, according to Navy Times. During a trip from Seattle to Guam in Oct. of 1957, the ship hit a reef in the area and sank. The crew was able to escape, but the ship went down.
“I turn around, and this giant, looming structure, so eerie,” Melissa Price, a maritime archaeologist, told Hawaii News Now. Price was one of three divers to discover the Mission San Miguel on Aug. 3. “I had to stare at it for a little bit, then I started freaking out under water, screaming and motioning,” said Rebecca Weible, a UH Manoa Marine Biology student who was diving with Price. “It’s really very, very exciting discovery for the monument,” Jason Raupp, who led the dive team that discovered the vessel.
The ship was a Type T2-SE-A2 tanker built for the United States Maritime Commission during World War II. After the war she was acquired by the United States Navy as USS Mission San Miguel (AO-129). Later the tanker transferred to the Military Sea Transportation Service as USNS Mission San Miguel (T-AO-129). She was a member of the Mission Buenaventura-class oiler and was named for Mission San Miguel Arcángel, located in San Miguel, Calif.
As a U.S. naval tanker in World War II and the Korean War, Mission San Miguel transported fuel for military machines. It received several commendations for its service. It had a length of 524 ft (160 m), a speed of 16.5 knots and carried up to 52 mariners.
“This is a ship that wasn’t a glamorous part of World War II history, but was an important part,” said Kelly Keogh, Maritime Heritage Coordinator for the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument.
The Mission San Miguel is now in the protected waters of the Papahanaumokuakea monument. It will be mapped and studied on the ocean’s floor.