Winter storm breaks up S.S. Palo Alto

January 24, 2017 | Environment
SS Palo Alto: the 'Cement Ship' was built in 1919

A violent storm followed by a powerful 35-foot swell destroyed the S.S. Palo Alto, grounded at Seacliff State Beach, near Santa Cruz, California.

The 98-year-old S.S. Palo Alto, also known as the "Cement Ship," was an oil tanker built by the San Francisco Shipbuilding Company and launched in 1919. But it never participated in the war.

The 420-foot S.S. Palo Alto is a historical landmark of Santa Cruz. The boat was made out of concrete to save metal during World War I.

In 1930, it was sunk at Seacliff State Beach, and used as a party boat, with a café, swimming pool, dance hall, and restaurant. Later, the boat was bought by the State of California and re-used as a fishing pier.

In the last decades, the "Cement Ship" became an artificial reef, home to many marine species. However, the S.S. Palo Alto continued to deteriorate and, in 2005, the authorities decided to pump 500 gallons (1,893 liters) of oil that still remained inside the structure.

The ship's hull cracked and eventually split into four pieces until the mid-January winter storm tore the stern off the ship. According to local authorities, the pier will have to be repaired.

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