A boat from the USS Monrovia emerged from the shores of Lake Shasta as the California drought continued in October.

A boat from the USS Monrovia emerged from the shores of Lake Shasta as the California drought continued in October. (Shasta-Trinity National Forest)

(Tribune News Service) — A surprising — and mysterious — piece of World War II history has emerged from Lake Shasta as the California drought unearths long-submerged relics from the water.

Shasta-Trinity National Forest announced Sunday that a boat was found in the desiccating lake bed, hidden from view likely for decades. The “31-17” marking on it linked it back to the USS Monrovia, an attack transport ship used in both the European and Pacific theaters of WWII.

Built in 1942, the USS Monrovia sailed first to the Mediterranean. There, it was boarded by then-Lt. Gen. George S. Patton and other troops headed for Operation Husky, the Allied invasion of Sicily. After its stint in Europe, the Monrovia steamed toward the Pacific, transporting Marines to the battles of Tarawa, Guam, Okinawa and more. Upon the war’s end, thousands of troops sailed home to the States aboard the Monrovia. The ship earned seven battle stars during the conflict.

The Monrovia stayed busy throughout the Cold War, participating in regular drills and occasionally deploying when things threatened to turn hot.

“The maintenance of a defensive readiness throughout this period enabled her to react positively during the many intervening crises such as occurred at Beirut, Lebanon, July 1958; Cuba, October, 1962; and the Panama Canal Zone, January 1964,” according to Naval History and Heritage Command.

In October 1968, the Monrovia was decommissioned by the U.S. Navy and sold for scrap. One of those pieces of scrap, a troop transport vessel, somehow made it to Northern California. It went for one last joyride on Lake Shasta before sinking, although no one knows when. “The circumstance of its sinking remains a mystery,” reads a tweet from the Shasta-Trinity National Forest account.

Lake Shasta is well below its historical average capacity. According to the California Department of Water Resources, Lake Shasta is currently at 33% of its total capacity; normally at this time of year, it’s at 59%. It’s the largest reservoir in the state.

“Area reservoirs remain well below their historic averages for this time of year given the ongoing drought,” the Bay Area’s National Weather Service office tweeted Sunday, “and occasionally, interesting things appear.”

(c)2022 SFGate, San Francisco

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