(RightWing.org) – The wreck of a US Navy submarine has been discovered, almost eight decades after she disappeared off the coast of Japan. Researchers found the wreck last May. Now it’s been confirmed it is the USS Albacore, which was last seen in late October 1944.
Naval History and Heritage Command announced today that the wreck site of Gato-class submarine USS Albacore (SS 218) has been identified. Albacore was lost with all hands on Nov. 7, 1944, off the coast of Hokkaido. The sub was credited with sinking 13 Japanese ships during WWII. pic.twitter.com/3tvV1PyQFp
— U.S. Naval Institute (@NavalInstitute) February 16, 2023
On October 24, 1944, the USS Albacore (SS-218) set out from Pearl Harbor on her 11th combat patrol. The Albacore, a 311-foot-long Gato-class sub that displaced over 2,400 tons submerged, was a battle-hardened vessel. She had already sunk 13 Japanese ships, including the 30,000-ton aircraft carrier Taihō, and held the record for the most warship tonnage sunk by any US submarine. Her commanding officer, Lieutenant-Commander James W. Blanchard, and the 59 other men on board took the submarine to Midway Island, where they topped off her fuel tanks on October 28, then headed for the north coast of Japan.
She was never heard from again.
After the war, Navy investigators found a report from a Japanese patrol boat of an unidentified submarine hitting an underwater mine off the coast of Hokkaidō — the northernmost of Japan’s two main Home Islands. The patrol boat’s crew saw the submarine explode underwater, then a mass of oil and wreckage floated to the surface. The sinking happened inside Albacore’s patrol area, so the US Navy assumed it was the missing sub, but nobody could know for sure.
Then, last May, University of Tokyo expert Tamaki Ura started looking for the wreck. Ura, an emeritus professor of ocean engineering and an expert in underwater drones, sent down a robot submersible in the area of the sinking report — and on May 26, he found a 164-foot-long section of submarine, lying on the seabed 780 feet down. He was convinced the wreck was the Albacore and sent video to the USN’s Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC). On February 17, NHHC announced they’d compared Ura’s video images to records of modifications made to the missing boat before her last patrol and confirmed the identification; Ura’s wreck was the USS Albacore, still on patrol after more than 78 years. The site has now been declared a war grave.
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