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World’s Deepest Shipwreck Is Officially the USS Destroyer Samuel B Roberts, aka Sammy B

If breaking records would be a job, it would be a full-time one for American explorer, retired naval officer, and businessman Victor Vescovo. One year after discovering the USS Johnston shipwreck, which became the deepest shipwreck found, Mr. Vescovo stumbled upon the USS Destroyer Samuel B. Roberts or Sammy B.
The wreck of USS Destroyer Samuel B Roberts, found at 22,916 feet in the Philippine Sea  9 photos
The wreck of USS Destroyer Samuel B Roberts, found at 22,916 feet in the Philippine SeaThe wreck of USS Destroyer Samuel B Roberts, found at 22,916 feet in the Philippine SeaThe wreck of USS Destroyer Samuel B Roberts, found at 22,916 feet in the Philippine SeaThe wreck of USS Destroyer Samuel B Roberts, found at 22,916 feet in the Philippine SeaThe wreck of USS Destroyer Samuel B Roberts, found at 22,916 feet in the Philippine SeaThe wreck of USS Destroyer Samuel B Roberts, found at 22,916 feet in the Philippine SeaThe wreck of USS Destroyer Samuel B Roberts, found at 22,916 feet in the Philippine SeaThe wreck of USS Destroyer Samuel B Roberts, found at 22,916 feet in the Philippine Sea
Sammy B is also known as the WWII destroyer escort “that fought like a battleship” in the final stage of the Battle of Leyte Gulf, 1944, the Battle off Samar, when American forces faced the elite of the Japanese Navy and caused the latter’s biggest loss of ships to that date. Records indicate that Sammy B managed to disable two heavy cruisers before it was hit by battleship Yamato.

Sammy B carried a crew of 224 men, 89 of which died in the battle and as it sunk. The captain, Lt. Cmdr. Robert W. Copeland, was saved with 120 of his men, after spending 50 hours clinging to rafts. Sammy B is now lying at 22,916 feet (6,985 meters) in the Philippine Sea, broken in two and showing all the tell-tale signs of the fierce battle it put up.

It was discovered there last week by Mr. Vescovo, who also discovered the USS Johnson last year. For the discovery, Vescovo’s Caladan Oceanic Expeditions partnered with EYOS Expeditions, using the now world-famous Limiting Factor submersible, as well as the deepest side-scan sonar ever installed and operated on a sub.

Speaking with the BBC (see the video below), Mr. Vescovo called the finding an “honor,” and said that the first clue as to the proximity of the wreck was the discovery of its torpedo launcher, which seems to be the only piece of debris that became dislodged as it sunk. Sammy B hit the floor with its bow and broke in two, right where it had been hit by Yamato. However, the pieces are just 5 meters (16.4 feet) apart and, at first sight, it looks as if the vessel is still intact.

More importantly for historians and future research, water damage to the ship is minimal, because of the depth it has spent the last 78 years at. This will allow further analysis of the kind of damage Sammy B took in the battle and confirm or infirm existing theories.

“We like to say that steel doesn't lie and that the wrecks of these vessels are the last witnesses to the battles that they fought,” Vescovo says. “The Sammy B engaged the Japanese heavy cruisers at point blank range and fired so rapidly it exhausted its ammunition; it was down to shooting smoke shells and illumination rounds just to try to set fires on the Japanese ships, and it kept firing. It was just an extraordinary act of heroism. Those men – on both sides – were fighting to the death.”









 
 
 
 
 

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