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World's Deepest Shipwreck Found in Pacific

3rd July 2022
The team had to conduct a lot of research beforehand to narrow its search area 
The team had to conduct a lot of research beforehand to narrow its search area  Credit: Caladan Oceanic /Eyos Expeditions

The world’s deepest shipwreck on record has been found by a team of explorers in the Philippine Sea.

The hull of the USS Samuel B Roberts, or Sammy B as it was known, was located at 22,916 feet (6984.7 metres) by a team involving explorer, private equity investor and former navy commanader Victor Vescovo of Caladan Oceanic Expeditions and British exploration company EYOS Expeditions.

Most of the world’s ocean floor is less than 6,000 metres deep, and areas deeper than that have tended to be linked to great tectonic trenches.

The Sammy B was one of several ships named after US Navy coxswain Samuel Booker Roberts, Jr., who died in the second world war Battle of Guadalcanal in 1942.

The USS Samuel B Robert before it sank: It went up against much more heavily armed opponents Photo: US NavyThe USS Samuel B Robert before it sank: It went up against much more heavily armed opponents Photo: US Navy

Roberts was part of a rescue mission for a company that had been surrounded by Japanese forces. He steered his vessel directly into the Japanese line of fire, and was mortally wounded.

The Sammy B, a destroyer, was commissioned in 1944 and was sunk by Japanese forces during the Battle of Samar later that same year. Two other US Navy ships were also later named the U.S.S. Samuel B. Roberts.

The Sammy B is reported to have damaged the Japanese fleet and delayed it for so long that it retreated, but the destroyer sank after it was hit with the loss of 89 lives. Some 120 crew on board were saved, after clinging to the wreckage for up to 50 hours according to BBC News.

“The Sammy B bore evidence of the incredible, ferocious fight that she waged against the cream of the Imperial Japanese Navy,” Vescovo told Jonathan Amos of BBC News.

“There were shell holes. She obviously had taken a massive hit from a battleship on her stern quarter [the rear of the boat], with it basically blown apart.”

Vescovo said that he was surprised they were able to find the ship because there was so little debris. It was broken in two, but he said it was relatively intact.

“Using a combination of detective work and innovative technology, everyone has pulled together to reveal the final resting place of this tenacious ship,” Kelvin Murray, EYOS expedition leader and director of expedition operations and undersea projects, said in a statement.

“It’s been challenging, thrilling and poignant expedition, one that recognises the ships and sailors from all nations who fought so hard during this battle.”

The same team discovered the U.S.S. Johnston last year in the Philippine Sea at over 21,000 feet – which then held the deepest wreck record until identification of the Sammy B.

Mr Vescovo was the first person to visit the deepest points in Earth's five oceans.

He's also climbed the highest peaks on each of the seven continents; and he recently went into space on New Shepard, the rocket and capsule system developed by founder Jeff Bezos.

Read more on BBC News here

Published in News Update, Diving
Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Search and Rescue: True stories of Irish Air-Sea Rescues and the Loss of R116 (2022); Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004); and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010). She is also co-producer with Sarah Blake of the Doc on One "Miracle in Galway Bay" which recently won a Celtic Media Award

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