Recent storms destroy 98-year-old cement ship in Aptos

Byby Sergio Quintana KGO logo
Tuesday, January 24, 2017
Storms continue to destroy 98-year-old cement ship in Aptos
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A 98-year-old ship is now in three pieces in the surf of Aptos.

APTOS, Calif. (KGO) -- A 98-year-old ship is now in three pieces in the surf of Aptos. The landmark cement ship was deliberately sunk in 1930 and now the storms of 2017 may have done it in for good.

RELATED: Stormy surf breaks up SS Palo Alto cement ship in Aptos

It's a favorite spot for visitors. "What happened on Saturday when the reverse third of the ship got completely uprooted and turned over, that's what really marked the end of an era," Aptos resident Giancarlo Thomae said.

Thomae is a local fisherman and guide who shot a drone video of the SS Palo Alto before the storms.

Now the massive concrete tail has been sheared off and toppled over. When asked what she thought when she saw it, Santa Cruz resident Nunes said, "I thought, whoa. That must have taken a lot of force to knock over." Nunes came out to Seacliff State Beach with her grandma. They wanted to take a look at the damage inflected on the SS Palo Alto.

"When I was a kid, I'm aged now, you could walk all the way out to the front of the front and fish blue gill and that sort of thing," Aptos resident Char Worley said.

This still from a drone video shows the SS Palo Alto in Aptos, Calif. before a series of storms hit the Bay Area in January of 2017.
Photo by Giancarlo Thomae

The SS Palo Alto is one of the country's only surviving ships that was made out of concrete. It was designed to save on metal during World War I. But the tanker never saw service and was grounded here to be a local attraction.

"There used to be a restaurant and people would go out dancing. So it was a very active boat," Worley said.

During storms last year, it began to break apart and started to lean. But now a third of the ship is on its side because of the brute force of the surf.

A few people showed up at the beach to survey the debris and to take a look at a piece of history as it gets walloped by the ocean.

It will take crews a few weeks to clear out all of the debris. Engineers will also look at the pier to make sure it's safe and repair any damage. The plan for the SS Palo Alto is for it to become a habitat for sea life, so the waves and future storms will continue to break it down.