October 25, 1944. The Fletcher-class destroyer USS Jonhston (DD-557), which was fighting in the Battle of Samar in the Philippines, was sunk after being exposed for three hours to intense combat against a fleet of Japanese destroyers, including the Yamato. 327 people were on that boat. Only 141 survived. The ship sank at sea and was discovered in 2019, at a depth of 6,456 meters. Today, finally, it has been possible to reach it, record it, photograph it and examine it thanks to a manned submarine.
Those responsible for such a milestone have been some American expeditions from the Texas technology company Caladan Oceanic. The team, consisting of Victor L. Vescovo (retired US Navy commander and expedition sponsor), Park Stephenson (also retired commander), and Shane Eigler (senior submarine technician) were able to examine the ship after two eight hour dives. This is what they found.
A huge ship at an even greater depth
To give us an idea of the magnitude of this shipwreck, we can remember the Titanic. This, which is located about 600 kilometers off the coast of Newfoundland, in Canada, lies on the seabed at about 4,000 meters deep. The USS Johnston, meanwhile, is located at 6,456 meters off the coast of the Philippines.
The wreck, which is the deepest ever located, was discovered in 2019. At that time some parts of the ship could be recorded with a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), but most of the wreck, including the front two-thirds, which are still upright and intact, the bow, the bridge and the midsection, they were too deep. The ROV was capable of reaching 6,000 meters, so much of the ship was still waiting to be seen again.
Now, thanks to this new expedition, it has been discovered that the number “557” on the helmet is still visible, that the two five-inch turrets are complete and that the two twin torpedo racks and weapon mounts remain in place. What he has not discovered is any kind of human trace or clothing. Nothing has been extracted from the remains, either.
As Park Stephenson explained, they were able to see the extent of the wreckage and the serious damage inflicted during the battle. And it is that the USS Jonhston was attacked by one of the largest warships ever built, the battleship Yamato of the Imperial Japanese Navy, a 263-meter battleship with nine 460-millimeter guns. This would be sunk on April 7 after a massive air attack.
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