Explorers have discovered the world’s deepest shipwreck after 78 years: a US Navy escort destroyer that sank during the greatest naval battle of World War II.
Explorers found the USS Samuel B. Roberts, nicknamed “Sammy B,” 22,916 feet (6,985 meters) below the surface of the Philippine Sea near Samar, the Philippines’ third-largest island. The wreck was broken in half and the two parts are only 10 meters apart.
The ship sank during the final stages of the Battle of Leyte Gulf in October 1944, in which the US Navy defeated a far larger Japanese force. Suffering the greatest loss of ships, the Japanese Navy was frustrated in its attempts to displace US Leyte Forces – an island occupied by the US as part of the pacific war.
“It was an exceptional honor to seek out this incredibly famous ship and thereby have the opportunity to tell her story of heroism and duty to those who may not know about the ship and the sacrifice of her crew,” Victor Vescovo, a former Marine commander and one of the wreck discoverers, said in a statement (opens in new tab).
Historical descriptions of the wreck’s location were vague, so finding the ship was not easy, according to the explorers. To locate the wreck, they searched historical documents to narrow the search area and used the deepest side-scan sonar device ever used, mounted on a submarine, which it could see up to 36,000 feet (11,000 m) below ocean could bring surface.
During the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the US lost two destroyers, two escort carriers, one light carrier, one escort destroyer, 255 aircraft and more than 1,000 men. Japanese losses were significantly higher, including one fleet carrier, three light carriers, three battleships, six heavy cruisers, four light cruisers, 11 destroyers, and approximately 300 aircraft in the four-day battle, and approximately 12,500 men. These losses forced Japan’s Vice Admiral Kurita Takeo to lead a retreat from the battle aboard the battleship Yamato. When the US occupation of the Philippines cut off Japan from its oil Supplies in Southeast Asia, the battle proved instrumental in the total destruction of the Japanese Navy as a fighting force, according to the Pennsylvania State University (opens in new tab)j.
Sammy B played a notable role in the fights. The destroyer escort fired three torpedoes at the Japanese heavy cruiser Chōkai, landing a hit with one that blew off the enemy ship’s stern. Sammy B exchanged fire with other Japanese ships for more than an hour, completely using up his ammunition and setting fire to the bridge of another heavy cruiser, the Chikuma. Then three 35.6 cm (14 in) shells from the battleship Kongō tore a 12 m (40 ft) hole in Sammy B’s stern, causing seawater to flood into the aft engine room. Of the crew who received orders to abandon ship, 89 died and 120 survived, including Captain Robert W. Copeland, according to the discoverers.
The previous holder for the world’s deepest shipwreck was the USS Johnston, which fought in the same battle and was found at a depth of 20,400 feet (6,218 meters) in 2019.
Originally published on Live Science.
World’s deepest shipwreck found — a US navy warship sunk in biggest sea battle of WWII Source link World’s deepest shipwreck found — a US navy warship sunk in biggest sea battle of WWII