World

The U.S. Navy has confirmed that a wreck off the Japanese island of Hokkaido is that of USS Albacore, one of the most successful U.S. submarines of World War II.

The submarine is thought to have sunk on Nov. 7, 1944, when Japanese surface ships recorded an underwater explosion in the area, probably after the sub struck a naval mine. The Albacore was on a wartime patrol at that time, and all 85 crewmembers on board were killed when the submarine went down.

This multibeam sonar image shows the wreck of USS Albacore on the seafloor beneath about 820 feet of seawater, about 5 miles east of the city of Hakodate on Hokkaido. (Image credit: La Plongée Society for Deep Sea Engineering)

A team of Japanese researchers working for a nonprofit group found the wreck last year. Tamaki Ura (opens in new tab) , a professor emeritus of engineering at the University of Tokyo and the director of the La Plongée Society for Deep Sea Engineering (opens in new tab) , told Live Science that the main reason for searching for the wreck was that so many lives were lost in its sinking.

The research for the project started in 2019, but an initial survey scheduled for 2020 had to be postponed until 2022 due to COVID-19 restrictions, Ura said in an email.

Related: 30 incredible sunken wrecks from WWI and WWII Submarine wreck Image 1 of 2Photographs from video of the wreck taken by a remotely-operated underwater vehicle (ROV) show the submarine’s conning tower – the superstructure built above the hull. (Image credit: La Plongée Society for Deep Sea Engineering) The vent holes along the top of the superstructure are one of the distinctive features that allowed the U.S. Navy to positively identify the wreck as that of USS Albacore. (Image credit: La Plongée Society for Deep Sea Engineering)

According to U.S. Navy records (opens in new tab) , USS Albacore (SS-218) was one of the most successful American submarines of World War II, with 10 confirmed sinkings of enemy vessels and three unconfirmed sinkings. Six of the 10 confirmed sinkings were combat ships, and the submarine was awarded nine battle stars and four Presidential Unit Citations for extraordinary heroism.

The Albacore’s most famous engagement was its June 1944 sinking by torpedo of the aircraft carrier Taiho — at that time, the newest and largest of Japan’s aircraft carriers — near Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands, which were then occupied by the Japanese but are now a U.S. commonwealth.

Strong currents, marine growth and poor visibility at the site have made it challenging to fully document the wreck, according to a statement from the U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command (opens in new tab) (NHHC).

But several distinctive modifications, including a radar dish and a row of vent holes on the superstructure, have enabled researchers to confirm that the wreck is that of USS Albacore, the statement said.

Naval History and Heritage Command confirmed the identity of a wreck site off the coast of Hokkaido, Japan, as USS Albacore (SS 218). pic.twitter.com/eYZZ7MxKugFebruary 16, 2023See more War graveImage 1 of 3The U.S. Navy also identified the wreck as that of USS Albacore because it was fitted with a radar dish. Radar was new technology at the time. (Image credit: La Plongée Society for Deep Sea Engineering) USS Albacore sank while on patrol near Hokkaido in Nov. 1944, probably after striking a naval mine. All 85 crew on board were killed in the explosion or the sinking. (Image credit: La Plongée Society for Deep Sea Engineering) USS Albacore sank while on patrol near Hokkaido in Nov. 1944, probably after striking a naval mine. All 85 crew on board were killed in the explosion or the sinking. (Image credit: La Plongée Society for Deep Sea Engineering)

A U.S. Navy spokesperson noted that the loss of the Albacore’s 85 crewmembers means the wreck is a war grave and protected under U.S. law.

“It is a hallowed site that represents the last resting place of American sailors who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation,” Lt. Ian McConnaughey, a spokesperson at the NHHC told Live Science in an email. “When we find a ship like this, it’s akin to Arlington National Cemetery for the Navy.”Related stories—Nuclear-powered US submarine collided with a hidden underwater mountain, Navy reveals

—Chinese submarine reaches the deepest place on Earth

—Mama and baby bear shot to death aboard Russian nuclear submarine

The depth of the wreck means it’s almost impossible for divers to get there, and McConnaughey said the NHHC has no plans to investigate it further.

“It is our hope that the known location of Albacore provides some measure of closure to surviving family members of its crew,” he said. 

According to CNN (opens in new tab) , since the submarine’s discovery, the Pearl Harbor-based group On Eternal Patrol (opens in new tab) has been able to locate and notify relatives for 76 of the 85 crew on board USS Albacore when it sank.

Articles You May Like

Chinese EV maker Xpeng aims to deliver its first flying car in 2026
OpenAI unveils voice-activated ChatGPT AI model that can have ‘realistic conversations’
PM’s Rwanda plan at risk of being undermined – and he can’t blame ‘leftie lawyers’
Kia is testing an electric pickup in the US that looks like a Ford F-150 Lightning
Trump ‘not thinking about Melania’ when he paid off porn star, ex-fixer tells court