In 1985, One Of America's Most Powerful Aircraft Carriers Almost Sunk

Other U.S. Navy ships have not been so lucky in such encounters. In 2005, the attack submarine USS San Francisco (SSN-711) ran into an uncharted seamount in Micronesia, and nearly sank. A mine sweeper wrecked itself on a reef in the South China Sea not long ago.

Spend some time with Google Earth, an atlas or a globe and you will see that California, for peoples used to the Atlantic, was indeed the far side of the world well into the nineteenth century. What is now one of the most populated, navalized coastlines on Earth remained poorly known even to mariners.