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Submarine Explores Eerie Wreckage Of World’s Deepest Known Shipwreck

by : Cameron Frew on : 02 Apr 2021 13:28
Submarine Explores Eerie Wreckage Of World's Deepest Known ShipwreckCaladan Oceanic

Footage has emerged of a submersible exploring a historic wartime shipwreck, believed to be the deepest in the world. 

The USS Johnston was commissioned on October 27, 1943. As per Naval History and Heritage Command, Commander Ernest. E. Evans said of the boat: ‘This is going to be a fighting ship. I intend to go in harm’s way, and anyone who doesn’t want to go along had better get off right now.’

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Into harm’s way it did. In the Battle of Samar in World War II, the outnumbered, 115m-long ship fought against Japanese forces, before eventually sinking. It’s been 77 years, and a crew of aquatic explorers have now found the wreckage.

Victor Vescovo, who also piloted the sub, led the expedition alongside engineer Shane Eigler and naval historian Parks Stephenson. The USS Johnston lies four miles (6.2km) beneath the surface in the Philippine Sea in the Pacific Ocean.

After making the incredible discovery, a number of dives were conducted to properly record and survey the ship. The team also laid wreaths before and after any dives, to pay respect to those who lost their lives in the battle.

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Vescovo told BBC News: ‘The wreck is so deep so there’s very little oxygen down there, and while there is a little bit of contamination from marine life, it’s remarkably well intact except for the damage it took from the furious fight.’

While some remains of the USS Johnston were found in 2009, the bulk of the wreckage was too deep for the previous remote-controlled submersible.

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This called for new technology: the DSV Limiting Factor, equipped with a thick titanium pressure hull and space for two people, capable of going deep into the abyss. The very same sub once dived to the bottom of the Mariana Trench and explored the remnants of the Titanic.

Rear Admiral Samuel Cox, director of naval history and curator for the Navy, said in a press release: ‘The wreck of Johnston is a hallowed site. I deeply appreciate that Commander Vescovo and his team exhibited such great care and respect during the survey of the ship, the last resting place of her valiant crew. Three other heroic ships lost in that desperate battle have yet to be found.’

Reacting to the find on social media, one user wrote: ‘I’m still in disbelief you all found (the rest of) her. Thank you. So much. I still can’t believe how well-preserved this part of the wreck remains. You can still see the awful fire damage on her bridge.’

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Vescovo replied: ‘It was an honor and privilege to be the first people to directly lay eyes on her since she went down 76 years ago. At 6000+ metres, there is little oxygen, so things don’t deteriorate like they do in shallower waters.’

He also said: ‘In some ways we have come full circle. The Johnston and our own ship were built in the same shipyard, and both served in the US Navy. As a US Navy officer, I’m proud to have helped bring clarity and closure to the Johnston, its crew, and the families of those who fell there.’

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Cameron Frew

After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BJTC-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He's now left his Scottish homelands and taken up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.

Topics: News, Now, World War 2, World War II

Credits

BBC News and 1 other
  1. BBC News

    USS Johnston: Sub dives to deepest-known shipwreck

  2. Caladan Oceanic

    Submersible crew completes the world’s deepest shipwreck dive in history (USS Johnston)