Nearly 80 years after WWII came to an end, a U.S. Navy submarine that was wrecked during the war has been discovered off the coast of Japan.
In a statement, the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) confirmed that the WWII submarine was found off the coast of Hokkaido, Japan, as USS Albacore (SS 218). The discovery occurred on Thursday (February 16th). The organization’s Underwater Archaeology Branch (UAB) used information and imagery provided by Dr. Tamaki Ura, from the University of Tokyo. All imaginary was to confirm the identity of Albacore, which was lost at sea on November 7, 1944.
Albacore was constructed by the Electric Boat Company in Groton, CT and commissioned on June 1, 1942. It conducted 11 war patrols and is credited with 10 confirmed enemy vessel sinkings.
Speaking about the submarine, NHHC Director Samuel J. Cox, U.S. Navy rear admiral (retired), also shared, “As the final resting place for Sailors who gave their [lives] in defense of our nation, we sincerely thank and congratulate Dr. Ura and his team for their efforts in locating the wreck of Albacore. It is through their hard work and continued collaboration that we could confirm Albacore’s identity after being lost at sea for over 70 years.”
The NHHC also reported that records from Japan Center for Asian Historical Records showed the loss of a U.S. submarine on November 7, 1944. This discovery was guided by Dr. Ura’s missions. The location mentioned in the records matched a separate ongoing effort by UAB volunteers to establish the WWII shipwreck’s location. Dr. Ura’s team collected the data by using a Remotely Operated Vehicle to confirm.
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Meanwhile, the NHHC explained that due to strong currents, marine growth, and poor visibility on site, there was a challenge in documentating the wreck. It was noted that even obtaining comprehensive images was difficult as well. The organization went on to reveal that several key features of the submarine were identified in a video.
“Indications of documented modifications made to Albacore prior to her final patrol such as the presence of an SJ Radar dish and mast, a row of vent holes along the top of the superstructure, and the absence of steel plates along the upper edge of the fairwater allowed UAB to confirm the wreck site finding as Albacore.”
NHHC then reaffirmed that the submarine is protected by U.S. law and under the organization’s jurisdiction. Non-intrusive activities (remote sensing documentation) on U.S. Navy sunken military crafts are allowed. However, any intrusive or potentially intrusive activities must be coordinated with NHHC. “If appropriate, authorized through a relevant permitting program.”
The wreck further represents the final resting place of those who gave their in defense for the U.S. Therefore, the site should be respected by all parties as a war grave.