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Humans may have summited Earth's highest peak and touched ground on the Moon, but we've still got a lot to explore on the ocean floor. Victor Vescovo, the billionaire founder of Caladan Oceanic and EYOS Expeditions, along with sonar specialist Jeremie Morizet are among the modern-day explorers plumbing the watery depths. On June 22, 2022, in the waters of the Philippine Sea, the team made a dreamlike discovery: the deepest wreck ever discovered. The sunken remains of the USS Samuel B. Roberts lay 22,621 feet below the surface, where it has languished since it sank in the Pacific theater in 1944.
The USS Samuel B. Roberts was a John C. Butler-class destroyer escort built in 1943 and commissioned in 1944. The 306-foot-long ship was tasked with defending aircraft convoys during the Battle of Leyte Gulf. These larger and slower ships needed a guard from air and water attacks. While on duty, a heavily-armed Imperial Japanese Navy flotilla approached. The Samuel B. Roberts turned to face the attack, advancing close enough to shoot torpedos and anti-aircraft guns. A hit from the Japanese ship caused a breach explosion, and shells tore large holes in the ship.
After over an hour of fighting, it became necessary to abandon ship. Ninety crew members went down with the vessel, while 120 languished on life rafts for 50 hours before their rescue. The ship sank into the deep, leaving some confusion for later explorers over where exactly the wreck might be.
To find the USS Samuel B. Roberts, Vescovo and the EYOS team used submersible vehicles and sonar-beaming ships to search for the wreck on six dives between June 17 and 24. On June 18, 2022, they identified the vessel by its unique weaponry: a three-tube torpedo launcher that is now covered in algae and sea life. Further dives revealed the ship broke in half, perhaps on impact.
At 22,621 feet, this is the deepest shipwreck ever surveyed. “It was an extraordinary honor 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,” Vescovo said. This historic find marks an important moment in military history, as the USS Samuel B. Roberts and her crew are known as “destroyer escort that fought like a battleship” in military lore.
On June 22, 2022, explorers discovered the deepest shipwreck at over 22,000 feet.
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The USS Samuel B Roberts sank under Japanese fire in the Pacific theater in 1944.
h/t: [IFL Science]
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