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Explorers Have Just Discovered The World's Deepest Shipwreck

Outnumbered and outgunned, the USS Samuel B Roberts' last stand is seen as a courageous moment in American naval history.

author

Tom Hale

Senior Journalist

clockJun 24 2022, 16:15 UTC
Sammy B Torpedo Tubes.
The distinctive torpedo tubes that gave Sammy B away. Image credit: Caladan Oceanic and EYOS

The world’s deepest shipwreck has been discovered by explorers at a depth of 6,895 meters (22,621 feet) below the waters of the Philippine Sea.

The remains of USS Samuel B Roberts, nicknamed "Sammy B,” was discovered on June 22, 2022, by billionaire explorer Victor Vescovo and sonar specialist Jeremie Morizet. 

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The USS Samuel B Roberts was a 93-meter (306-foot) long destroyer escort built for the United States Navy during World War II. It met its watery grave in October 1944 after exchanging gunfire with a large Imperial Japanese Navy flotilla in the Battle off Samar, part of the larger Battle of Leyte Gulf.

Although a mere destroyer escort, the USS B Johnston and a small US fleet put up a hell of a fight against the Imperial Japanese Navy. However, it was eventually overwhelmed, sinking to the seafloor along with some 89 souls of the 224-strong crew.

Outnumbered and outgunned, the USS Samuel B Roberts' last stand is seen as a courageous moment in American naval history.

The shipwreck of Sammy B.
The shipwreck of Sammy B. Image credit: Caladan Oceanic and EYOS


Its exact location, however, was not certain. Using submersible vehicles and sonar-beaming ships, Vescovo –founder of Caladan Oceanic – and the EYOS Expeditions team set out to discover the wreck in six dives that ran between June 17 and 24. On June 18, they eventually managed to identify the wreck through a three-tube torpedo launcher that was unique to Sammy B.

A later dive then discovered the entire wreck of the Sammy B from bow to stern, snapped into two pieces, resting on a slope at a depth of 6,895 meters (22,621 feet). 

This makes it the deepest wreck ever identified and surveyed, surpassing the USS Johnston (6,469 meters) surveyed by Vescovo last year by 426 meters (1,398 feet).

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"It was an extraordinary honor to locate this incredibly famous ship, and by doing so have the chance to retell her story of heroism and duty to those who may not know of the ship and her crew's sacrifice," Vescovo said in a statement sent to IFLScience.

“I always remain in awe of the extraordinary bravery of those who fought in this battle against truly overwhelming odds – and won.”


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