Military Wiki
SS Palo Alto
Palo Alto
Palo Alto
Career (USA)
Name: SS Palo Alto
Namesake: Palo Alto, California
Builder: San Francisco Shipbuilding Company, Oakland, California
Launched: 29 May 1919
Fate: Grounded as a fishing pier at Seacliff Beach in Aptos, California
General characteristics [1]
Type: Design 1100 tanker
Tonnage: 6,144 GRT
3,696 NT
Length: 420 ft (130 m)
Beam: 54 ft (16 m)
Depth: 35 ft (11 m)
Propulsion: Llewellyn Iron Works 3-cylinder triple expansion steam engine
359 nhp
1 shaft

SS Palo Alto was a concrete ship built as a tanker at the end of World War I. She was built by the San Francisco Shipbuilding Company at the U.S. Naval Shipyard in Oakland, California. She was launched on 29 May 1919, too late to see service in the war.[2] Her sister ship was the SS Peralta.

She was mothballed in Oakland until 1929, when she was bought by the Seacliff Amusement Corporation and towed to Seacliff State Beach in Aptos, California. A pier was built leading to the ship, and she was sunk a few feet in the water so her keel rested on the bottom. There she was refitted as an amusement ship, with amenities including a dance floor, a swimming pool and a café.

The company went bankrupt two years later and the ship cracked at the midsection. She was stripped of her fittings and left as a fishing pier. Eventually she deteriorated to the point where she was unsafe for even this use and was closed to the public. Today she remains at Seacliff Beach and serves as an artificial reef for marine life.

In spring of 2005, oil found on wildlife nearly two years earlier was traced back to the ship.[3] In September 2006, a clean-up project was started estimated at $1.7 million. No oil is known to have spilled into the ocean, but wildlife experts believe birds came into contact with oil by entering the ship's cracked hull while diving underwater for fish.[4][5] [6] [7]


  1. Bender, Rob. "S.S. Palo Alto". Retrieved 17 December 2012. 
  2. Heron, David W. (2002). Forever Facing South, The story of the S.S. Palo Alto "The Old Cement Ship" of Seacliff Beach (Revised third printing ed.). Santa Cruz, California: Otter B Books. ISBN 0-9617681-3-4. 
  3. "Aptos Cement Ship Leaking Oil"
  4. The cost of the cleanup was approximately the cost of the original construction of the ship in 1919. Rogers, Paul (6 September 2006). "Oil trail leads to 'cement ship'" (web). San Jose Mercury News. 
  5. AP (6 September 2006). "Aptos' Cement Ship Leaking Oil". 
  6. Russomanno, Tony (5 September 2006). "Crews Remove Oil From Abandoned Ship In Santa Cruz" (web). 
  7. Sideman, Roger (6 September 2006). "State begins removing oil from World War I-era ship". Santa Cruz Sentinel. 

See also

External links

Coordinates: 36°58′10.75″N 121°54′50.31″W / 36.9696528°N 121.913975°W / 36.9696528; -121.913975


This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).