On the list of cool jobs to have, shipwreck hunting is definitely right up there.
Over the last couple of years, teams of explorers have been uncovering the incredible remains of some of the world’s most famous boats.
Thanks to their efforts we can now revisit the Titanic, or take a tour of the shipwreck believed to hold gold worth trillions.
The most recent discovery comes to us from Tim Taylor (not ‘The Tool Man’ from Home Improvement), who decided to embark on an ambitious mission back in 2010 to uncover all 52 U.S. submarines lost during World War II.
This past weekend he announced the discovery of the fifth wreck, the U.S.S. Grayback, off the coast of Okinawa.
The Grayback is credited with sinking 14 enemy ships during the conflict, reports Smithsonian Magazine, making it one of the most successful war machines of its time.
The Grayback departed Pearl Harbor for its tenth combat patrol of the war on January 28, 1944. Bound for the East China Sea, the submarine sank two Japanese cargo ships on February 19, leaving it equipped with just two torpedoes. Although the Grayback was scheduled to arrive at Midway Island for rearmament on March 7, it failed to appear and was listed as missing, presumed lost, on March 30.
The vessel went down with 80 sailors on board.
To add to the mystery of the missing Grayback, the U.S. Navy published the results of the investigation into its whereabouts in 1949, which contained one crucial error that was only discovered in 2018.
Taylor asked fellow sub-enthusiast Yutaka Iwasaki to re-examine the daily reports filed by sailors stationed at the Japanese Imperial Navy airbase in Naha, Okinawa.
Iwasaki translated a February 27, 1944, dispatch describing the destruction of an American submarine believed to be the Grayback and found that its coordinates differed from the U.S. naval record by just one digit.
Taylor’s team travelled to the coast of Okinawa to try and locate the submarine, but their efforts were hindered by a number of technical problems. A malfunctioning autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) had to be retrieved a third of the way through its 24-hour drive on the ocean floor.
The crew retrieved the drone, expecting to pack it up and head home, but upon reviewing the images, Taylor noticed two anomalies on the seafloor.
This time, the group sent a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to explore the area. Several hours later, Ismay writes, Taylor and the crew found themselves in front of the Grayback’s hull. The submarine’s deck gun was resting on the seafloor about 400 feet away.
The Navy has confirmed that the wreck is the Grayback and have even given it some protection to stop looters from plundering it.
If you’d like to see the wreck, the team put together some footage of it along with details of their mission:
Five down, 47 to go.
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