Stern of World War II US destroyer discovered off Alaska

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Stern of World War II US destroyer discovered off Alaska

August 23, 2018 - 14:33
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On 18 August 1943 the USS Abner Read struck a mine off the Aleutian island of Kiska, ripping off its stern which sank taking with it many sailors to their watery grave.

USS Abner Read fought in World War II, seeing action in the Aleutian Islands Campaign, where she survived a mine explosion that blew off her stern in 1943.

In the midst of WW2, the USS Abner Read, a Fletcher-class destroyer, had been conducting an antisubmarine patrol off Kiska for two days without any sign of the enemy, when at 0150 on 18 August 1943 she struck a mine. The explosion tore a huge hole in her stern. After remaining attached to the ship by the starboard screw shaft for a few minutes, the stern broke away and sank. About 90 men either went down with the stern or ended up in the water, which was covered with fuel oil.

Somehow the crew kept the main part of Abner Read's hull watertight, and two nearby Navy ships towed it back to port. It was eventually repaired and put back into service. She was ultimately sunk in November 1944 during the Battle of Leyte.

Meanwhile and for 75 years the stern - and resting place of the doomed sailors - remained undiscovered somewhere below the dark surface of the Bering Sea off the Aleutian island of Kiska, where it sank after being torn off.

Stern found

Using multibeam sonar, an expedition funded by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found the stern section – 75 feet (22.9 meters) long and 18 feet (5.5 meters) high[3] – near where it sank off Kiska, lying on its side on the ocean floor about 290 ft (88.4 m) down.

After the sonar mounted to the side of the research ship Norseman II identified a promising target, the team sent down a deep-diving, remotely operated vehicle to capture live video for confirmation. "There was no doubt," said expedition leader Eric Terrill, an oceanographer at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and co-founder of Project Recover. "We could clearly see the broken stern, the gun and rudder control, all consistent with the historical documents."

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