Bangkok, September 17
Divers have discovered what they consider is the wreck of a US Navy submarine misplaced 77 years in the past in Southeast Asia, offering a coda to a stirring however little-known story from World War II.
The divers have despatched images and different proof from six dives they comprised of October 2019 to March this yr to the United States Naval History and Heritage Command for verification that they’ve discovered the USS Grenadier, one in every of 52 American submarines misplaced throughout the battle.
The 1,475-ton, 307-foot lengthy Grenadier was scuttled by its crew after bombs from a Japanese aircraft virtually despatched them to a watery grave. All 76 of its personnel survived the bombing and sinking, however their agony to comply with can be extended. After being taken prisoner, they had been tortured, crushed and almost starved by their Japanese captors for greater than two years, and 4 didn’t survive that ordeal.
The wreck lies 82 meters (270 ft) underwater someplace within the Strait of Malacca, about 150 kilometers (92 miles) south of Phuket, Thailand. It was found by Singapore-based Jean Luc Rivoire and Benoit Laborie of France, and Australian Lance Horowitz and Belgian Ben Reymenants, who stay in Phuket, Thailand.
Reymenants was one of many divers who took half within the dramatic rescue of a dozen boys and their soccer coach who received trapped in a collapse northern Thailand two years in the past.
The Belgian has been researching doable areas for shipwrecks for a few years, Horowitz mentioned in an interview with The Associated Press, and Rivoire had an appropriate boat to discover the leads he discovered. Reymenants would ask fishermen if there have been any odd spots the place they’d misplaced nets, after which the workforce would use side-looking sonar to scan the ocean flooring for distinct shapes.
When they dived to have a look at one promising object, it was lots larger than anticipated, so that they dug again into the archives to strive to determine which misplaced vessel it may very well be, after which dived once more.
“And so we went back looking for clues, nameplate, but we couldn’t find any of those,” recalled Horowitz. “And in the end, we took very precise measurements of the submarine and compared those with the naval records. And they’re exactly, as per the drawings, the exact same size. So we’re pretty confident that it is the USS Grenadier.” The Navy command’s Underwater Archaeology Branch on common receives two to a few such requests a yr from searchers just like the Grenadier divers, mentioned its head, Dr. Robert Neyland, in an e-mail to The Associated Press.
“A complete review, analysis, and documentation may take two months to a year to complete,” he mentioned, including that it’ll probably take just a few months within the case of this potential discovery.
The Grenadier left Pearl Harbor on Feb. 4, 1942, on its preliminary warfare patrol. Its first 5 missions took it to Japanese residence waters, the Formosa delivery lanes, the southwest Pacific, the South China Sea and the Japanese-occupied Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). It sank six ships and broken two.
It sailed on March 20, 1943, from Fremantle, Australia, on its sixth patrol, to the Malacca Strait and north into the Andaman Sea.
The commanding officer, Lt. Cdr. John A. Fitzgerald, recorded what occurred there in a report written after being free of a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp in 1945.
On the night time of April 20, the submarine glimpsed two small freighters and set course to intercept them the following morning, crusing on the floor for velocity.
In the morning, a aircraft was sighted; a right away crash dive was ordered, however the ship didn’t descend far sufficient, quick sufficient. Blasts from two bombs battered the sub; key elements of the vessel had been mangled; energy and lights had been misplaced and a fireplace broke out. All palms desperately labored to repair what they may as Fitzgerald ordered the ship to remain on the ocean flooring.
When it surfaced after 13 hours it was clear the Grenadier was too crippled to flee or combat. An effort was made to rig makeshift sails on a periscope to succeed in shore earlier than blowing up the vessel, however there was lifeless calm.
As daybreak broke, two ships on the horizon had been closing in. Codebooks and delicate gear had been destroyed as preparations had been made to scuttle the submarine. A Japanese aircraft made a run on the ship, however was fought off with small arms, dropping a bomb harmlessly about 200 meters (yards) away. The crew deserted ship at 0830 and an hour later had been hauled aboard an armed service provider ship, which took them to Penang, a serious port city on the Malayan Peninsula.
At a Catholic faculty requisitioned by the Japanese to be used as a jail, occasions took a good darker flip.
“The rough treatment started the first afternoon, particularly with the (enlisted) men. They were forced to sit or stand in silence in an attention attitude,” wrote Fitzgerald.
“Any divergence resulted in a gun butt, kick, slug in the face or a bayonet prick. In the questioning room, persuasive measures, such as clubs, about the size of indoor ball bats, pencils between the fingers and pushing of the blade of a pen knife under the finger nails, trying to get us to talk about our submarine and the location of other submarines.” After just a few months, all of the crew had been transferred to camps in Japan, the place the abuse continued. Four died from an absence of medical consideration.
“This was an important ship during the war and it was very important to all the crew that served on her,” diver Horowitz mentioned final week. “When you read the book of the survivors, that was, you know, quite an ordeal they went through and to know where she finally lies and rests, I’m sure it’s very satisfying for them and their families to be able to have some closure.” — AP