6895mt Down On Sea Floor
While discussing shipwrecks, the Titanic comes to one’s mind, first. However, there are many ships which may have disappeared from the pages of history, as many of them have never been found beneath the sea. US destroyer USS Samuel B Roberts (DE-413), popularly known as the Sammy B, was one such vessel the wreck of which was identified on June 22, 2022 on a slope at a depth of 22,916ft (6,985mt) in the Pacific Ocean near the Philippines. Victor Vescovo, an American explorer and founder of Dallas-based Caladan Oceanic Expeditions, has claimed that Sammy B is the deepest ever discovered shipwreck, till date. The destroyer had sunk 78 years ago.
The Sammy B had participated in the Battle off Samar, the final phase of the Battle of Leyte Gulf in October 1944. Although the Japanese Imperial Navy had suffered its biggest loss, the US Destroyer was critically hit by the lead Japanese battleship Yamato, and sank. Of 224 crewmembers onboard, 89 perished, while 120 were saved, including the Captain, Lieutenant Commander Robert W Copeland.
No one could have imagined that the wreckage of this warship would be discovered after nearly eight decades of the accident. However, Vescovo, together with UK-based Eyos Expeditions, have found the wreckage of the Sammy B that was broken into two pieces. According to the former US Navy Commander, the two pieces were lying 10mt (33ft) apart, beneath the Philippine Sea.
Talking to the media, Vescovo said that the search operation lasted for about eight days, as six divers from Eyos Expeditions helped him discover the shipwreck. He stressed: “It was an extraordinary honour to locate this incredibly famous ship, and by doing so have the chance to retell her story of heroism and duty to those who may not know of the ship and her crew’s sacrifice.”
In fact, they set out in search of the wreckage of another US Naval vessel, USS Gambier Bay (CVE-73), a Casablanca-class escort carrier that was sunk in the Battle off Samar after helping to turn back a much larger attacking Japanese surface force. It was the only US aircraft carrier sunk by enemy surface gunfire during the Second World War. However, they noticed a three-tube torpedo launcher first, and then the broken parts of the Sammy B. They found the entire shipwreck on the eighth day of the operation.
It may be noted that the height of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa, is 5,895mt, while La Rinconada, the highest settlement in Peru, is situated at 5,100mt (16,700ft) above sea level. However, the wreckage of the Sammy B is lying even deeper. Interestingly, Vescovo discovered the wreck of the USS Johnston (DD-557) in 2021 also in the Philippine Sea, and it was the previous deepest wreck discovered. This Fletcher-class destroyer was built for the US Navy during the Second World War, and named after Lieutenant John V Johnston, an Officer of the US Navy during the American Civil War. The Petrel, a research vessel belonging to Vulcan Inc., discovered the remains of the USS Johnston at a depth of 21,180ft (6,460mt) of the Philippine Trench on October 30, 2019. It was the deepest discovered shipwreck in the world until the Samuel B was discovered on June 22, 2022.
Meanwhile, Vescovo has claimed that they would search for shipwreck lying more than 11,000mt beneath the sea, next time. Perhaps, the wreckage of the USS Gambier Bay, or any other ship, might be discovered then.
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