U.S. Navy Destroyer Sunk in World War II Is Found 20,000 Feet Under the SeaBreaking News
tags: WWII, US Navy, navy history
It was a mismatch — a small task unit of United States Navy ships confronted by a mighty squadron of Japanese warships.
The Americans went on the attack with every gun and torpedo that they had, repelling the enemy vessels that had threatened to cut off the supply lines for an amphibious landing led by Gen. Douglas MacArthur on the strategic island of Leyte in the Philippines.
But the heroic stand in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the largest naval battle of World War II, came at a heavy cost: Two escort carriers, two destroyers and a destroyer escort from the task force unit, known as Taffy 3, sank.
Now, 75 years after that turning point in the Pacific theater, a private underwater expedition discovered the wreckage of one of those destroyers, which researchers believe to be the U.S.S. Johnston DD-557.
The Fletcher-class destroyer lost 186 members of its crew of 327 sailors, including its commander, Ernest E. Evans, who was the first Native American in the Navy to receive the Medal of Honor. It sank on Oct. 25, 1944.
“They were hopelessly outclassed, but they fought anyway,” said Sam Cox, a retired Navy rear admiral and director of the Naval History and Heritage Command, the preservation arm of the Navy.
Navy historians confirmed that the wreckage belonged to a Fletcher-class destroyer, but said that they needed to do more research to determine if it was the U.S.S. Johnston or the U.S.S. Hoel DD-533, which sank on the same day.
More than 30 sunken warships have been discovered by Vulcan researchers, including a number of American vessels lost in World War II, like the U.S.S. Indianapolis, the U.S.S. Wasp and the U.S.S. Hornet.