California Shipwrecks

The Commission administers the California Shipwreck and Historic Maritime Resources Program. Public Resources Code sections 6309, 6313, and 6314 describe the Commission’s authority over shipwrecks and other submerged archaeological sites. The Commission maintains a list of known shipwrecks in State waters and seeks and provides information about historic shipwrecks and sunken aircraft. Any shipwreck sunk more than 50 years is presumed to be of archaeological or historical significance and is protected under State law. 

Contact

For questions about the legal or historical status of a shipwreck or other submerged archaeological site:

Shipwreck.Database@slc.ca.gov

Articles on California shipwrecks

Thanks to researchers from the Institute for Western Maritime Archaeology at the University of California, Berkeley, we have a number of articles about California shipwrecks.

The Brother Jonathan

On the afternoon of July 30, 1865 the Brother Jonathan was wrecked in a storm off Crescent City, California, striking a submerged pinnacle now known as Jonathan Rock on St. George Reef, also known as the Dragon’s Teeth.

Drawing of the SS Brother Jonathan

Painting of DeWolf, Captain of the Brother Jonathan when it wrecked