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WWII Submarine USS Grayback Found

By Chris Benson December 10, 2019

WWII Submarine USS Grayback Found

In 1944, the USS Grayback left port in Pearl Harbor for its 10th combat patrol. The scheduled return date came and went without any communication with the submarine. After failing to locate the vessels for several weeks, the Navy declared it lost. Now, thanks to a Japanese researcher and an American recovery project, we can declare the mystery of what happened to the Grayback solved.

 A Brief History

The USS Grayback was one of the most successful submarines during its time. It was responsible for sinking more than a dozen Japanese ships and sending over 21,000 tons of cargo to the bottom of the sea.

However, when the submarine surfaced in the East China Sea, a Japanese bomber sunk it. The Japanese plane dropped a 500-pound bomb on the submarine, it exploded, and the sub and its 80-man crew sank to the bottom of the sea. There were no survivors.

At the end of the war, the Navy attempted to find all the missing ships and submarines in the area by going through Japanese communications and records. On the day of the Grayback’s sinking, there is clear communication between the bomber and the ship it launched from. In that communication, the pilot gives clear coordinates and the name of the vessel it sank. But when the US Navy obtained the audio, they translated it incorrectly and accidentally omitted one digit from the transcription. That minor clerical error led to the Navy searching 100 miles away from the actual spot.

The Discovery

A privately funded expedition, The Lost 52 Project’s purpose was to try and find the 52 lost submarines from WWII. The group isn’t searching for the subs to recover them—their goal is to document and preserve the story of each submarine and the men who served on it. Once the group finds a vessel, they protect it from any human interference.

As The Lost 52 Project studied the story of the Grayback, the group asked a researcher in Japan to go over the communications. These were the records from that fateful day—the same ones the US Navy incorrectly translated. It didn’t take him long to find the error in the translation and plot the new coordinates. The Lost 52 Project team set out from Hawaii to look for the Grayback, and it was exactly where the new coordinates said it should be. From the video taken by the search team’s submersibles, views can clearly see the nameplate of the Grayback. The front gun of the sub lays 400 feet from the rest of the body, as the bomb blew it off during the attack.

After the discovery, the group notified the remaining family members of the 80-man crew of the finding. They were finally able to lay the lost souls to rest and gain some closure knowing they died in service of their country.

 

If reading this tale of brave seamen stirred up a sense of pride in America—act on it. Take a look at our patriotic polo shirts and other U.S.A. gear so you can start repping the stars and stripes and everything they stand for.


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