Divers in Southeast Asia have situated the misplaced wreck of what is regarded as a U.S. Navy submarine that sank in 1943 after it was attacked by Japanese plane.
The submarine wreck — virtually definitely that of USS Grenadier — was present in a search of the northern finish of the Straits of Malacca, between the Malay peninsula and Sumatra.
The divers cross-referenced army information of three submarines sunk within the space throughout World Struggle II with the attainable areas of wrecks reported by fishermen who had snagged nets on submerged obstacles, mentioned group member Lance Horowitz, an Australian based mostly on Thailand’s southern island of Phuket.
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The opposite members of the group are Ben Reymenants, a Belgian diver based mostly in Phuket who additionally helped rescue a youth soccer group from a cave in Thailand in 2018; and Frenchmen Jean Luc Rivoire and Benoit Laborie, who’re each based mostly in Singapore.
The group spent two boat journeys and several other days looking out the probably areas with sonar tools, and situated a wreck in October final 12 months at a depth of 280 ft (85 meters) — an excessive depth for diving that required a particular mixture of oxygen, nitrogen and helium for them to breathe, and solely allow them to keep a couple of minutes.
“We did not actually have an excessive amount of time,” Horowitz instructed Stay Science. “We weren’t in a position to swim round the entire wreck … it form of disappears off in both path.”
After 5 extra dives since, Horowitz and his group have established the wreck as that of a army submarine with all its hatches open, sitting on the seafloor; — the most recent measurements of its conning tower, hatches and hull present it have to be the Grenadier.
The group is now ready for formal affirmation of their discover from the U.S. Navy, Horowitz mentioned.
USS Grenadier, named after a sort of fish like many U.S. subs, joined the American submarine fleet within the Pacific Ocean after the Japanese assault on Pearl Harbor in December 1941.
It helped defend the island of Halfway in June 1942 — one of many decisive naval battles of the Pacific throughout World Struggle II — and later patrolled the coasts of Southeast Asia, in line with the U.S. Naval Historical past and Heritage Command.
On April 20, 1943, the Grenadier was closing on two Japanese cargo ships close to Phuket, meaning to sink them, when it was noticed by a Japanese plane. The submarine crash-dived to a depth of round 120 ft (36 m), but it surely was hit by a torpedo dropped from the plane, which knocked out its energy and began fires onboard.
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The stricken submarine fell to the seafloor, whereas its crew tried to make repairs and put out the fires; it solely surfaced after darkish, 13 hours later, but it surely was too badly broken to maneuver.
The sub’s captain, Lt. Cmdr. John Fitzgerald, hoped an improvised sail would carry the sub shut sufficient to shore that the crew may escape into the jungle; but it surely was quickly noticed by Japanese ships and plane.
After a fierce battle with the sub’s weapons on the floor, Fitzgerald ordered that the Grenadier be scuttled; the crew opened all its hatches and vents, and the sub shortly sank to the underside. Its location was misplaced till the dive group found it final 12 months.
Prisoners of conflict
That wasn’t the tip of the story for the crew of the Grenadier, nonetheless. The Japanese ships picked up all 76 crew males and took them to a commandeered Catholic faculty close to Penang the place they have been questioned, crushed and starved, in line with historic accounts.
Within the e-book “The Silent Service in World Struggle II” (Casemate Publishers, 2012), one of many Grenadier sailors alleged their Japanese captors tortured the crew, together with breaking their fingers and pricking them with bayonets, to get them to speak.
4 of the Grenadier crew died in captivity, and the remaining survived till the tip of the conflict in Japanese jail camps. The final survivor of the Grenadier died final 12 months, Horowitz mentioned, including that he and his group gathered their data from the households of the crew members.
The wreck has now develop into a haven for sea life. “It is in an in any other case barren a part of the seafloor,” he mentioned. “It’s actually thriving, lined with coral and large fish.”
The group hopes to make additional dives on the wreck and ultimately seek for two different World Struggle II submarines that sank within the space: the British subs HMS Stonehenge, which sank in 1944, probably after hitting a mine; and HMS Porpoise, which sank in 1945, after it was bombed by a Japanese plane.
“We’ll use related methods that we used to search out the [Grenadier],” Horowitz mentioned. “We’d get fortunate sufficient to search out one other one.”
Initially printed on Stay Science