Experts Unraveled The Mystery Of A Lost WWII Submarine – And Its 80 Vanished Crew Members
WWII ended, leaving many wondering what happened to their family members, their loved ones, and even their pets. In times of chaos, everyone and everything is at risk. Once WWII ended, many disappeared in mysterious and tragic circumstances. This is something that some people knew better than others. One of them was Tim Taylor, who in June of 2019, went on a mission of his life.
In 20198, Tim Taylor and his team decided to look for a U.S. submarine that disappeared in mysterious manners. Since the technology finally progressed, they could use a remotely controlled underwater vehicle to help them search for the massive submarine. They were not ready for what they discovered. Read on to see what they eventually found in the depth of the dangerous ocean.
25. U.S. Submarine
Submarines were frequently used in WWII. Some of them used during these difficult years were real masterpieces in terms of layout and functions.
USS Gato (SS-212), launched 21 August 1941, was the first of 54 submarines in her class. Gato-class boats carried the USA submarine’s brunt and were amazing, although Japan had the best submarine globally. At the time, no one expected this single USA submarine would lead to such global attention.
24. Submarine Disappearance
With 33 ships sunk, the USS Tang sank the most tonnage of shipping in World War II. Simply said, the USA submarines were really important in winning the war, which is why this loss was so devastating to many.
An average submarine is usually 560 ft long and heavy up to 16,499 long tons surfaced or 18,450 long tons submerged, making it hard to believe how something so big could be lost. Sure, submarines are enormous, but the World Ocean area is about 139.7 million square miles, covering about 70.9% of Earth’s surface. So, compared to the ocean size, submarines are tiny. Here is how this specific submarine got lost.
23. USA Submarine Gone
Submarines can get lost for several reasons, including failure of propulsive power, high pressure, or a simple malfunction. It’s important to note that when a single submarine is lost, hundreds of people are lost as well.
This specific submarine had 80 crew members when disappear, including Tom Taylor’s cousin. A WWII submarine disappears from the coast of Japan in now far 1944. Seven decades later, a team of experts decided to find this submarine and learn once for all what happened to the crew.
22. Experts Unraveled the Mystery of a Lost WWII Submarine
When the sub disappeared, there were 80 sailors on board, and in 2019, Tim and his team were determined to find it. They used a remote control underwater vehicle to search the bottom of the sea.
However, they had to bring it back to the surface fast because the machine developed a fault. Taylor brought it back to the surface and decided to look at the data that machines recorded. He wasn’t ready for this shock.
21. Data Research
Once the remotely controlled underwater vehicle was out, Taylor started looking at recorded data. That’s when he noticed two unusual inconsistencies that prompt him to send down yet another probe.
Tom couldn’t believe what he was seeing. It was now that he has finally realized that U.S.S. Grayback or S.S.-208 was nearby. Tom’s operation was carried out on behalf of the Lost 52 Project, dedicated to locating 52 U.S. submarines that disappeared in WWII. The U.S. Navy had previously posted the Grayback as missing in late March 1944.
20. The Grayback
On January 28, 1944, the Grayback had embarked on a combat patrol from Pearl Harbor. It was her tenth such mission and the last one. Just right before its disappearance, the sub sent a message back to base on February 24.
The content of this message was significant. The sub made another report on February 25, with her crew relating that the craft had done serious damage to the liner Asama Maru – which the Japanese had pressed into military service as a troop carrier – and sunk the tanker Nanpo Maru. After that, they went through another important mission.
19. The Grayback Destiny
The attacks lasted for two days, and it has left the Grayback with just two torpedoes. As a result, the Grayback had to set sail to Midway Atoll in the North Pacific for resupply.
However, that February 25 radio message was the last that anyone heard from this famous submarine. Navy commanders expected the submarine to dock at Midway Atoll on around March 7, 1944, and there was no sign of her on that date. It was clear that something went wrong.
18. Submarine Gone Missing
Since the submarine was nowhere to be found, the authorities had no choice but to declare the submarine and her crew of 80 as lost at sea. So, on March 30, the submarine and its crew were officially declared lost.
This was a big loss to the US Navy, especially since this was considered a great project. Skilled Electric Boat Company workers built the submarine. The majority of U.S. submarines were made by Electric Boat Company, which created 85 submarines, among other craft for both the U.S. Navy and the British Royal Navy.
17. But… What Happened To The Grayback?
When the Grayback was finally completed, the submarine was over 300 feet from stem to stern and displaced 2,410 tons when submerged. The submarines were almost 27 feet, while her maximum surface speed was around 20 knots.
Grayback’s official crew strength was 54 enlisted men and six officers, although we already know that there were in total 80 men when the submarine disappeared in 1944. So, how could this beast disappear?
16. The Final Goodbye
The Grayback was a massive submarine well-equipped with ten 21-inch torpedo tubes – six sets towards the bow and four at the stern, so it seems like a miracle that it could vanish easily.
Plus, the Greyback was really well-equipped for defense against assault from the air. SO what happened? On February 15th in 1942, the Greyback headed for Pearl Harbor. On that day, the submarine was set off on her first wartime patrol. The Greyback sailed into the Pacific, without knowing that it goes to its doom.
15. The Final Route
On February 15, the submarine set off to wartime patrol, and she sailed into the Pacific and cruised along the coasts of the island of Guam, which Japan had attacked in December 1941.
The Grayback also traveled near the coast of Saipan. At the time, this area was Japanese territory. This regular patrol lasted for three long weeks, and they even encounter a Japanese submarine. Was this meeting fatal for the Grayback?
14. Regular Patrol Gone Bad
What started as a regular control ended as a battle. During its regular patrol, the Grayback came across the Japanese submarine. To protect themselves, the Japanese submarine unleased two torpedoes at the Grayback.
At that specific moment, the Grayback couldn’t escape this attack and was unable to maneuver into a position to return fire. This was one of those make it or break it moments.
13. Trying To Escape
The Grayback was caught up in a position where it wasn’t possible to return the fire. Yet, the Grayback did manage to escape thanks to skilled officers and probably effective teamwork because one person couldn’t operate this massive vehicle.
Grayback succeeded in sinking her first ship: a cargo vessel of 3,291 tons. The second patrol was a relatively uneventful affair that ended when she docked at Fremantle. This Western Australian port served as a Grayback base for most of her time in service.
12. Next Two Patrols
The Grayback went through the next two patrols smoothly in the South China Sea and even managed to hit an enemy submarine and some merchant ships. Then her fifth tour of duty began on December 7, 1942, when she set off from Australia. On Christmas Day 1942, the Grayback surfaced. Only four days later, an enemy submarine fired torpedos at the American craft.
This resulted in the U.S. attacking the Imperial Japanese Navy vessel I-18. Plus, the destroyer U.S.S. Fletcher sank the Japanese boat with depth charges the following month. All her 102 crewmen perished as a consequence. Grayback went on to dive at dawn to escape Japanese planes.
11. The Final Mission
Survivors from two other submarines were welcomed to the Grayback. The boat’s captain, Commander Edward C. Stephan – who had succeeded Saunders in September 1942 – won the Navy Cross for this action along with a U.S. Army Silver Star.
The Grayback torpedoed Japanese craft and even damaged herself. Ultimately, the weapons damaged a hatch on the Grayback’s hull, which resulted in a return to port in Brisbane, Australia. The next patrol saw no success, but the Grayback managed to survive on her seventh tour, which began from Brisbane on April 25, 1943.
10. The Following Day
Grayback was determined to contribute as much as possible to fight. Therefore, the following day, the Grayback sank another cargo ship and hit two more. After these triumphs, it was time to sail back to Pearl Harbor and San Francisco, California, for a refit.
On September 12, 1943, the Grayback was back at Pearl Harbor and ready for another Pacific mission. Now, the submarine had another chief, Commander John Anderson Moore. So, after only two weeks, the submarine was ready for another mission.
9. Eighth Mission Of The War
Two weeks after returning to Pearl Harbor, the submarine set off for Midway Atoll alongside the U.S.S. Shad. SO, both Grayback and Shad were joined by the U.S.S. Cero, with the three vessels constituting what was known as a “wolfpack.”
This unique approach of combining submarines had proven to be highly successful when used by German U-boats. However, this was the first time for the States to try this tactic.
8. Effective Strategy
The new strategy of combining two submarines proved to be effective and gave amazing results. Together, joined submarines could easily sink up to 38,000 tons of Japanese shipping and damage up to 3,300 tons.
Then, on December 2, 1943, the Grayback set off again from Pearl Harbor for the East China Sea. This was the Grayback’s ninth patrol when the submarine fired the entire torpedo supply’s entirety in only five days of the attack. After this, the Grayback was set to sail for her tenth patrol.
7. The Tenth Patrol
On January 28, 1944, the Grayback was ready for its tenth patrol and, as it turned out, her last patrol. Later on, it was discovered that the last radio contact came on February 25.
After that, no one has heard from this submarine until 2019. Everyone strongly believed that on that mission, the famous Grayback sunk. The Grayback herself was also ultimately awarded eight battle stars for her WWII service. Now, let’s see where it was discovered.
6. The Big Discovery
After many decades, the truth about the submarine was finally revealed. At first, the U.S. Navy believed that the Grayback had sunk beneath the waves at around 100 miles to the southeast of the Japanese island of Okinawa.
This assumption was based on data that actually included a big error. Interestingly, this assumption was based on records that had been kept by the Japanese. It was shown that a single-digit made a big confusion.
5. Wrong Location
A single-digit led Navy experts to read the map wrong. Simply said, it was transcribed wrongly. In the end, the Grayback was actually far from the location that had been assumed over the years.
In 2018, Tim Taylor decided to re-examine the case of this submarine. He was so passionate about finding it that he even started the Lost 52 Project – a private enterprise working to find the remains of the 52 submarines that disappeared without a trace during World War II.
4. The Lost 52 Project
This project started as a successful search for the U.S. submarine R-12, which had been lost in 1943, which Tim and his Tim discovered. So far, Tim and his team have come across five submarines.
Tim also discovered where Grayback lies exactly. The data TImfound actually included daily radio updates from Naha on Okinawa Island, which had been the site of a Japanese naval air facility. So, Iwasaki spotted the crucial single-digit error.
3. Single Digit Error
Iwasaki said, “In that radio record, there [are] a longitude and a latitude of the attack, very clearly.” In reality, these coordinates marked a location that was 100 miles distant from the one the U.S. Navy had assumed to be correct since 1949.
So, using this new information Taylor and his team managed to find the lost submarine in one piece. This discovery was more than emotional, and Tim had something to share with the world.
2. Emotional Discovery
Speaking to The New York Times, Taylor recalled the feelings of the Lost 52 team. “We were elated. But it’s also sobering because we just found 80 men,” he said.
Others observed Tim’s mission, waiting for his discovery. Those men on the submarine had families who never got to see them again and who wanted to know what happened.
1. Final Goodbye
Gloria Hurney was one of those who couldn’t wait o hear about the Grayback discovery. Her uncle Raymond Parks had served aboard the submarine as an electrician’s mate, first class.
In November 2019, she told ABC News, “There’s a book I read, and it says these ships are known only to God. But now we know where the Grayback is.”