World War II ‘Ghost Boat’ Discovered in Lake California: ‘Pretty Remarkable’

Efforts are underway to restore a World War II landing craft discovered last year at the bottom of California’s largest reservoir.

According to Shasta-Trinity National Forest officials, the Higgins boat was said to have been used to ferry soldiers to beach invasions during the war. The attacks relied on these types of boats to transport troops from ship to shore.

“We didn’t expect to see a WWII transport boat in such good condition,” Peter Schmidt, the forest’s archaeologist, told FOX News.

Dubbed the “ghost boat” by officials, the landing craft was found at the bottom of Lake Shasta in 2021. Of the 23,000 boats built, only 20 remain, which officials say makes the discovery amazing.


A look inside the Higgins boat (Credit: Todd Johnson, Stasta-Trinity National Forest)

“This boat is referred to as ‘The Ghost Boat,'” officials said on Facebook. “It’s really remarkable how it emerged from the lake and has so many stories to tell.” The circumstances of its sinking remain a mystery.

This landing craft, numbered 31-17, emerged from the lake due to the ongoing drought in California. The receding water revealed the artifact and the levels had sunk low enough to completely unearth the craft.

Local military historian James Dunsdon told FOX News he was given special permission to recover the boat and delve deeper into its history.

“Some of the troops in here might not have made it back, so that might have been the last piece of US territory they were standing on,” Dunsdon said.

In 1943 the boat was attached to the USS Monrovia, which was used as headquarters by General George Patton during the invasion of Sicily. General Dwight Eisenhower also sailed the Monrovia before embarking on battles in the Pacific.


A view of the ghost boat discovered in 2021 (Todd Johnson, Stasta-Trinity National Forest)

After the restoration, the boat will be on display at the National Guard Museum in Nebraska – the home state of Andrew Higgins himself.

“The veterans of WWII are getting older, so they won’t be around for long to tell the stories, so boats like this are really going to be the only thing left with those stories to tell.” Dunsdon continued.

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He noted that the restoration process could take a few years, but plans to keep the boat’s appearance “weathered” as a reminder of his time on the lake and as a respect for its combat history.

FOX News and Claudia Cowan contributed to this story.