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Meet the USS Johnston, lost in the abyss

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A team of explorers ventured over 6400 meters to apprehend the USS Johnston, a US Navy destroyer sunk by the Japanese during World War II.

The USS Johnston (DD-557) is an American Fletcher-class destroyer, named after Lieutenant John V. Johnston. The building is best known for its participation in the defense of the escort aircraft carriers of the US 7th Fleet against Japanese battleships and other heavy cruisers in the Gulf of Leyte, during the largest naval battle in history. .

About 115 meters in length, it finally presented itself to the largest warship ever built – the Imperial Japanese Navy battleship Yamato – on October 25, 1944, before suffering too much attack and sinking, carrying with him his crew.

Its wreckage will not be found until 2019, before being formally identified in spring 2021. The crew of Victor Vescovo, founder of the company Caladan Oceanic, had then been able to film, photograph and study the remains of the destroyer off the coast of the Samar Island, over 6,400 meters deep. From then on, the USS Johnston became the deepest military wreck ever found.

The USS Johnston photographed October 27, 1943 in Seattle. Credit: US Navy

Two new dives

At the time, the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) could not reach the deepest parts. A few weeks ago, Victor Vescovo and his team therefore financed another expedition, piloted his submersible, the DSV Limiting Factor, and operated two new eight-hour dives.

AT 6,456 meters deep, they studied and captured high definition photos of the structure, including the deck and the bow, which still bears the hull number “557”. Explorers were also able to appreciate the turrets, the two torpedo racks, and other weapon mounts visibly still in place. No human remains or clothing has been identified.

“We were able to see the extent of the wreckage and the serious damage inflicted during this intense battle fought on the surface”said Parks Stephenso, a former US Navy lieutenant and exploration team member. “All the testimonies pay tribute to the bravery of the crew and their total lack of hesitation in fighting the enemy, and this wreck proves it to us today”.

All data collected in the field will not be made public, but delivered to the US Navy (which will do what it wants). The crew, who have taken care not to disturb the wreckage, are hopeful that all of this new information will be useful to historians and archivists. Note that three other ships also sunk in the Battle of Leyte Gulf have not yet been found.



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