SS Monte Carlo

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SS Monte Carlo
SS Monte Carlo Shipwreck 2010-01-30.jpg
SS Monte Carlo wreck visible at low tide near Coronado Shores 30 January 2010
  • Old North State (While under construction)[1]
  • Tanker No. 1 (1921-1923)[1]
  • SS McKittrick (1923–1932)[1]
  • Monte Carlo (1932–1937)[2]
Owner: Associated Oil Company (1923-1932)[1]
Ordered: 1918
Builder: Liberty Ship Building Company in Wilmington, North Carolina (later the Newport Shipbuilding Company)[1]
Launched: 1921
Completed: 1921
In service: 1923
Out of service: 1932
Fate: Wrecked 1937
Notes: Ship was built out of reinforced concrete
General characteristics
Class and type: Concrete oil tanker based off an incomplete EFC Design 1070 cargo vessel
Type: Oil tanker
Length: 300 ft (91 m)[1]
Beam: 44 ft (13 m)[1]
Height: 24 ft (7.3 m)[1]
Propulsion: Single Nordberg triple expansion steam engine[1]
Notes: Started construction as the EFC Design No. 1070 concrete oil tanker Old North State
SS Monte Carlo wreck 30 January 2010

The SS Monte Carlo was a concrete oil tanker launched in 1921 as the SS McKittrick but later became a gambling and prostitution ship in 1936 off the coast of Coronado, California.


On 12 April 1918, President Woodrow Wilson approved the construction of concrete ships, overseen by the Emergency Fleet Corporation.[3] In total, 24 ships were approved for construction. Only 12 ships were completed by armistice in 1918.[4] The remaining unbuilt ships were cancelled. However, a 13th and final ship was still under construction at the Newport Shipbuilding Company yard in Wilmington, North Carolina. A third sister to the previously completed Design No. 1070 type concrete oil tankers the Sapona and Cape Fear was incomplete. This vessel was known as the Old North State. Author Norman McKellar believed the Old North State continued construction and was completed in 1921 under the temporary name of Tanker No. 1 more than likely heavily modified from its original Emergency Fleet Corporation design.[1] Tanker No. 1 was used by the U.S. Quartermaster Corps until 1923, when the vessel was purchased by the Associated Oil Company of San Francisco, California and re-purposed as the commercial oil tanker McKittrick.[1][2] The McKittrick was powered by a single Nordberg triple expansion steam engine which was the same unit built into the other Emergency Fleet Corporation concrete vessels.[1]

In 1932, the McKittrick was sold to Ed Turner and Martin Schouwiler and renamed the Monte Carlo. Her hull was filled with further concrete in order to reduce motion and the former oil tanker was converted into a gambling and prostitution ship. She became the largest gambling ship operating off the California coast line. Monte Carlo opened for business off Long Beach, California on 7 May 1932 in tandem with the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. Monte Carlo was moved to international waters off Coronado Island in 1936. California based law enforcement was unable to shut down the operations of the ship as she lay out of state and federal law jurisdiction in international waters. Water taxis and ferries carried customers from land to the Monte Carlo from shore. These craft were subject to high taxation in an attempt to financially ruin the Monte Carlo.[2]


Monte Carlo was anchored 3 miles (4.8 km) off Coronado Beach in San Diego where it was in international waters, outside the boundary of state and federal law. During a storm on New Year's Day in 1937 the anchor lost its hold and the ship drifted onto the beach in front of what is now the El Camino Tower of the Coronado Shores condos. No one claimed ownership because, once on shore, this gambling and prostitution ship was illegal. The wreckage can be seen underwater at low tide, and is occasionally exposed during strong storm tides. The surrounding beach where the Monte Carlo came to rest was coined locally as "Shipwreck Beach" by a Coronado writer and historian in 2005.[2]

There has been speculation that there may be $150,000 worth of silver dollar coins remaining in the wreckage, according to the late Bud Bernhard who retrieved hundreds of dollars from the shipwreck as a child. “I’m convinced there is $100,000 in gold and silver coins deep in that wreck.”, he once said.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l McKellar, Norman (2007) [1960]. Roberts, Stephen, ed. "Ferro-Concrete Ships" (PDF). Steel Shipbuilding Under the U.S. Shipping Board, 1917 - 1921. Belgium: The Belgian Shiplover. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Ditler, Joe (3 February 2016). "Coronado's Shipwreck Exposed: New History Also Revealed". Coronado Patch. Retrieved 23 November 2016. 
  3. ^ Eberhardt, Robert (1995). Crawford, Richard, ed. "Concrete Shipbuilding in San Diego 1918 - 1920" (Web Article). San Diego, California: San Diego History Center. 
  4. ^ Bender, Robert (2011). "A Brief History of Concrete Ships". Concrete 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 32°40′26″N 117°10′23″W / 32.674°N 117.173°W / 32.674; -117.173