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‘Deepest wreck ever found’ World War II destroyer from Battle of Leyte Gulf

EXPLORERS have found the deepest-ever shipwreck, that of an allied destroyer sunk by the Japanese Combined Fleet during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, considered the largest sea-battle of all time.

The marine archaeologist where onboard the research vessel, the RV Petrel.

They found the shattered remains of the American Fletcher class destroyer, the USS Johnston.

The Philippines Sea

The allied ship was resting 6,220 metres beneath the Philippine’s Sea.

The USS Johnston was a member of the famous “Taffy 3” unit during the Leyte Gulf engagement in 1944.

The battle was against the Imperial Japanese Navy’s (IJN) most powerful battleship the Yamato.

The strategic aim of the battle was to alleviate US troops fighting on the beaches of the Philippine island of Leyte.

The Petrel team said: “This wreck is either the Johnston or the Hoel.

“This wreck is in the southern part of where the battle took place and this is one of the reasons why we believe this is the Johnston, because she sank later, after Hoel did.”

The USS Johnston

The USS Johnston was in a relatively vulnerable off Samar Island.

On 25 October, the Imperial Japanese Navy group of battleships, cruisers and destroyers caught USS Johnston near the San Bernardino Strait.

The USS Johnston ought back with her small 5in guns.

The Yamato

But among the enemy vessels was the Yamato, the largest battleship ever built, with a main battery of nine 18in guns.

“We felt like little David without a slingshot,” Johnston’s gunnery officer later reported, according to a US Navy history of the battle.

The US Navy’s account added: “Despite the grave damage, no torpedoes remaining, and reduced speed and firepower, Johnston commenced a second attack by firing 30 rounds into a 30,000-ton Japanese battleship.

“One by one, Johnston took on Japanese destroyers, although she had no torpedoes and limited firepower.

“After two and a half hours, Johnston, dead in the water, was surrounded by enemy ships.

“At 9.45am, Evans gave the order to abandon ship.

“Twenty-five minutes later, the destroyer rolled over and began to sink.”

Kamikaze attacks

Kamikaze attacks were first used during this battle by the Japanese Naval command.

The RV Petrel is owned by former Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

It has also found many other wrecks, such as ships from the Battle of Midway.


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