Power of Place Episode #41 | Bright Returns – Matt McCauley & Sarah Haberstroh

Join us in this episode as we descend into the Graveyard of the Pacific with Matt McCauley, President of The Northwest Shipwreck Alliance and Sarah Haberstroh, Manager of Underwater Operations for Rockfish Inc.

Matt’s passion for deep-water marine salvage is intertwined with that of his friend Jeff Hummel. As scuba diving high schoolers on Mercer Island in the early 1980s, the two made headlines recovering World War II aircraft from the bottom of Lake Washington. In 2010 Matt returned from the East Coast to support Jeff’s lifelong quest to find the SS Pacific, a nearly 300-ft long transatlantic sidewheel steamer that sunk off Cape Flattery in 1875. At the time it was laden with gold from the Cassiar Mining District of NW British Columbia, near Alaska. The shipwreck drowned all but two of those onboard, which may have totaled as many as 500.

Sarah Haberstroh left a career in underwater warfare in the United States Navy last year to join the team searching for the SS Pacific. She maneuvers Rockfish’s remotely operated vehicles for the current recovery phase of the operation.

Matt and Sarah recount the ill-fated ship’s history. They talk of the bootstrapped technology, the gumshoe detective work and the perseverance required to locate it in its resting place 1,000 feet beneath the sea. Animating their endeavor—and today’s conversation—is a mission of recovering a complete collection of the vessel’s artifacts: Relics honoring those who died in the calamity.

"This tells a story. It is very rare that you can find a vessel from which you can extract all these artifacts and essentially have a time capsule from 1875." – Matt McCauley