Ocean researchers have found what they claim is the deepest ever naval shipwreck, believed to be a US Navy WW11 destroyer, over six kilometres down.
Crews aboard the Vulcan Inc.’s Research Vessel Petrel found the remains of the ship at a depth of 6,220 metres on the bed of the Philippine Sea. The ship is thought to be the USS Johnston DD-557, a Fletcher-class destroyer sunk during the Battle of Leyte Gulf off Samar in the Philippines on 25 October 1944.
The Battle of Leyte Gulf lasted three days and is considered one of the largest naval engagements ever, involving more than 200,000 naval personnel.
It was also the last action between battleships in history, and the first battle in which Japanese aircraft carried out organised kamikaze attacks. The Japanese navy suffered heavy losses there and did not put to sea again in any force for the rest of the war as it was trapped in base by a lack of fuel.
According to the US Navy, the USS Johnston under Commander Ernest E Evans was deployed to Leyte Gulf in the Philippine Sea on 20 October, 1944. On 25 October, the ship took heavy fire during a surprise attack from the Japanese Center Force, and according to the Navy: “One by one, Johnston took on Japanese destroyers, although Johnston had no torpedoes and limited firepower. After two-and-a-half hours, Johnston – dead in the water – was surrounded by enemy ships.”