MANILA, Philippines: Explorers have announced that they discovered a U.S. Navy destroyer escort, the USS Samuel B. Roberts, which was sunk by the Japanese fleet during the largest sea battle of World War II in the Philippines.
It is the deepest wreck to ever be discovered.
Popularly known as the "Sammy B," the ship was identified this week, broken into two pieces on a slope at a depth of 22,620 feet, 1,400 feet deeper than the USS Johnston, the previous deepest wreck, discovered last year in the Philippine Sea, also by American explorer Victor Vescovo, founder of Dallas-based Caladan Oceanic Expeditions.
The find was announced by Vescovo, together with UK-based EYOS Expeditions.
"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," said former Navy commander Vescovo in a statement.
The Sammy B. took part and was sunk in the Battle off Samar, the final phase of the Battle of Leyte Gulf in October 1944. Of the 224-man crew, 89 died, while 120 were rescued, including the ship's captain, Lt. Cmdr. Robert W. Copeland.
"This site is a hallowed war grave, and serves to remind all Americans of the great cost born by previous generations for the freedom we take for granted today," added retired admiral and naval historian Samuel J. Cox, as reported by the Associated Press.
Until the ship's discovery, the historical records of where the wreck had sunk were not accurate, the explorers said, adding that the search involved the use of the deepest side-scan sonar ever installed and operated on a submersible, well beyond the standard commercial limitations of 19,685 feet.