The Forest Service at Shasta-Trinity National Forest announced on Sunday the finding of a Higgins style craft, also referred to as a “ghost boat” by the agency and its investigation into the craft’s use though out the Second World War. The craft was first found last fall as the waters of Lake Shasta fell due to drought conditions.
“This boat is referred to as ‘The Ghost Boat.’ It really is quite remarkable how it emerged from the lake with so many stories to tell,” the agency announced. “There is more to discover of its history and obviously its time on Shasta Lake, and still the circumstance of its sinking remains a mystery.”
According to the agency, the boat’s ramp was painted “31-17” meaning that it was assigned to the USS Monrovia, an attack transport. Monrovia served as the headquarters for the legendary General George Patton when he led the American invasion of Sicily.
At that time, future President Dwight D. Eisenhower also would have been on the Monrovia directing the invasion of Italy. The ship was later used in other invasions, including the island of Tarawa, in the Pacific.
“Any ‘restoration’ will be done to preserve as much of the integrity of the boat as possible and will hopefully preserve it in a weathered ‘combat fatigue’ look, and that is how it is intended to be displayed at a museum in Nebraska,” the agency added.
A similar World War II-era Higgins craft surfaced at Lake Mead in Nevada earlier this year as waters in that lake also experienced receding water levels. The boat had been used by a scuba diving company after it had been used to survey the Colorado River.
Similar boats were used by American forces during the invasion of Normandy during World War II, and Higgins, a New Orleans based company, manufactured the crafts from about 1942-1945.
“There are relatively few working or museum examples of the LCVP Higgins craft like the one currently emerging from Lake Mead,” NPS said, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal.
The park service also explained more about the history of craft, and its connection to the World War II era, explaining that a thin half inch armor still protected the boat.
“The surplus nature of the craft highlights an earlier era of the Lake when Las Vegas and Lake Mead were much more remote and removed from much of the United States, where relatively inexpensive WWII surplus could be pressed into duty for new peaceful purposes in the park,” it explained.