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Winter Waves Snap Famous WWI-Era Concrete Ship, S.S. Palo Alto, in California

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Updated: | Originally published: ;

Record waves over the weekend snapped a section of the famous World War I-era cement-ship, the S.S. Palo Alto, moored in California’s Monterey Bay.

The stormy surf, which reached the record height of 34-ft according to the National Weather Service, broke the section nearest to the shore. It also caused the pier on Seacliff Beach, which was constructed to link the ship to the beach, to temporarily close, ABC7 News reports.

The boat was part of an emergency fleet of 24 ships made out of ferroconcrete and commissioned by Emergency Fleet Corportation during World War I, the Washington Post reports. Ferroconcrete, which a mix of concrete and steel, was considered a low-cost material to produce than steel. But by the time shipbuilders completed the 420-ft S.S. Palo Alto, the war was over.

Its first voyage was to the Seacliff beach in 1929, where it became an amusement ship, before becoming a fishing pier, then an artificial reef for marine animals. Its disintegration over the years was hastened during winter 2016 storms, that cracked the rear half of the ship open.

“Here in the Monterey Bay, we’ve seen very large surf, with very little break in-between, and it’s that repeated beating down by the ocean that seems to be having the biggest effect on the ship this year,” State Parks public safety superintendent Bill Wolcott told ABC7 News.


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