INTRODUCTION

Over the past year, the team on the Research Vessel (R/V) Petrel has been dedicated to finding and documenting shipwrecks from World War II. Its unique technology package has enabled Petrel to locate more than a dozen World War II warships that had been missing for decades, including the USS Indianapolis, USS Lexington as well as ships from the Imperial Japanese Navy. Scroll down to learn more about these ships and Petrel’s ongoing mission.

USS Indianapolis (Heavy Cruiser)

Philippine Sea

USS Indianapolis (Heavy Cruiser)

DATE LOST

JULY 30, 1945

SURVEY DATE

AUG 19, 2017

CREW LOST

800 (Of nearly 1116)

DEPTH

5200m (17060 feet)

USS Lexington (Aircraft Carrier)

Coral Sea

USS Lexington (Aircraft Carrier)

DATE LOST

MAY 8, 1942

SURVEY DATE

MAR 4, 2018

CREW LOST

216 (Of nearly 2986)

DEPTH

2023m (6637 feet)

USS Juneau (Light Cruiser)

Solomon Sea

USS Juneau (Light Cruiser)

DATE LOST

NOV 13, 1942

SURVEY DATE

MAR 17, 2018

CREW LOST

687 (Of nearly 697)

DEPTH

4200m (13780 feet)

USS Helena (Light Cruiser)

New Georgia Sound

USS Helena (Light Cruiser)

DATE LOST

JULY 6, 1943

SURVEY DATE

MAR 24, 2018

CREW LOST

168 (Of nearly 900)

DEPTH

869m (2851 feet)

USS Asagumo (Destroyer)

Surigao Strait

IJN Asagumo (Destroyer)

DATE LOST

OCT 25, 1944

SURVEY DATE

NOV 24, 2017

CREW LOST

191 (Of nearly 230)

DEPTH

183m (600 feet)

IJN Fuso (Battleship)

Surigao Strait

IJN Fuso (Battleship)

DATE LOST

OCT 25, 1944

SURVEY DATE

NOV 25, 2017

CREW LOST

1620 (Of nearly 1630)

DEPTH

185m (607 feet)

IJN Michishio (Destroyer)

Surigao Strait

IJN Michishio (Destroyer)

DATE LOST

OCT 25, 1944

SURVEY DATE

NOV 27, 2017

CREW LOST

Unknown (4 Survived)

DEPTH

177m (581 feet)

IJN Yamagumo (Destroyer)

Surigao Strait

IJN Yamagumo (Destroyer)

DATE LOST

OCT 25, 1944

SURVEY DATE

NOV 27, 2017

CREW LOST

Unknown (2 survived)

DEPTH

117m (384 feet)

IJN Yamashiro (Battleship)

Surigao Strait

IJN Yamashiro (Battleship)

DATE LOST

OCT 25, 1944

SURVEY DATE

NOV 23, 2017

CREW LOST

1636 (Of nearly 1646)

DEPTH

191m (627 feet)

IJN Hamanami (Destroyer)

Ormoc Bay

IJN Hamanami (Destroyer)

DATE LOST

NOV 11, 1944

SURVEY DATE

JAN 18, 2018

CREW LOST

63 (Of nearly 230)

DEPTH

316m (1037 feet)

IJN Naganami (Destroyer)

Ormoc Bay

IJN Naganami (Destroyer)

DATE LOST

NOV 11, 1944

SURVEY DATE

DEC 1, 2017

CREW LOST

156 (Of nearly 228)

DEPTH

252m (827 feet)

IJN Shimakaze (Destroyer)

Ormoc Bay

IJN Shimakaze (Destroyer)

DATE LOST

NOV 11, 1944

SURVEY DATE

DEC 1, 2017

CREW LOST

Unknown (Of nearly Unknown)

DEPTH

218m (715 feet)

IJN Wakatsuki (Destroyer)

Ormoc Bay

IJN Wakatsuki (Destroyer)

DATE LOST

NOV 11, 1944

SURVEY DATE

DEC 1, 2017

CREW LOST

Unknown (Of nearly 300)

DEPTH

265m (869 feet)

USS Cooper (Destroyer)

Ormoc Bay

USS Cooper (Destroyer)

DATE LOST

DEC 3, 1944

SURVEY DATE

DEC 4, 2017

CREW LOST

191 (Of nearly 359)

DEPTH

200m (656 feet)

USS Ward (Destroyer)

Ormoc Bay

USS Ward (Destroyer)

DATE LOST

DEC 7, 1944

SURVEY DATE

DEC 3, 2017

CREW LOST

Unknown (Of nearly Unknown)

DEPTH

209m (686 feet)

IT Artigliere (Destroyer)

Sicily-Malta Escarpment

IT Artigliere (Destroyer)

DATE LOST

OCT 12, 1940

SURVEY DATE

MAR, 2017

CREW LOST

132 (Of nearly 251)

DEPTH

3700m (12139 feet)

HMAS AE1 (Submarine)

New Georgia Sound

HMAS AE1 (Submarine)

DATE LOST

SEPT 14, 1914

SURVEY DATE

APRIL 4, 2018

CREW LOST

35 (Of nearly 35)

DEPTH

300m (984 feet)

USS Indianapolis is shown off the Mare Island Navy Yard, in Northern California, July 10, 1945, after her final overhaul and repair of combat damage. U.S. Navy Photo

SHIP HISTORY

USS Indianapolis' survivors en route to a hospital following their rescue, circa early August 1945. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

The Indianapolis’s tragic sinking in the final days of World War II and the story that followed—retold in the movie Jaws—made her wreck one of the most famous not yet located. After two Imperial Japanese torpedoes slammed into her in the early morning hours of July 30, 1945, the Indianapolis sank in 12 minutes, making it impossible to deploy much of its life–saving equipment. Prior to the attack, the Indianapolis had just completed its secret mission of delivering components of one of the two nuclear weapons that were dropped on the Empire of Japan. Of the 1,196 sailors and Marines onboard, only 316 survived.

Wreckage from the USS Indianapolis was discovered on August 19, 2017 by RV Petrel. The Indianapolis was found more than 18,000 feet below the surface, resting on the floor of the North Pacific Ocean.

EXPEDITION DETAILS

Wreckage from the USS Indianapolis was discovered on August 19, 2017 by RV Petrel. The Indianapolis was found more than 17,000 feet below the surface, resting on the floor of the North Pacific Ocean.

MEDIA GALLERY

A bell found on the wreckage of USS Indianapolis. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
An anti-aircraft gun located on the USS Indianapolis. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
Indianapolis' survivors en route to a hospital following their rescue, circa early August 1945. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.
Remains of a a SC-1 Seahawk float plane near the wreckage of the USS Indianapolis. RV Petrel found remains of two planes. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
Side sonar gives a look at the extent of the USS Indianapolis wreck on the bottom of the North Pacific ocean. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
An image shot from a remotely operated vehicle shows the bottom of an anchor clearly marked "U.S. Navy" and "Norfolk Navy Yard."  The anchor is consistent with the one visible in this photo dated July 12, 1945 just weeks before the ship was lost. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.

USS Lexington off Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii, with Diamond Head in the background, February 2, 1933. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

SHIP HISTORY

The USS Lexington, nicknamed the “Lady Lex,” was originally commissioned as a battlecruiser but was launched as an aircraft carrier in 1925. She had a significant impact before WWII during “Fleet Problems” or war games, and its use during these exercises developed the tactics for carriers that would be used in WWII. She took part in the Battle of the Coral Sea along with the USS Yorktown against three Japanese carriers. This is where Lexington made her mark on history.

The Battle of the Coral Sea was notable not only for being the first carrier versus carrier battle in history, but also the first naval engagement where opposing ships never came within sight of each other. Ushering in a new form of naval warfare via carrierndash;based airplanes, “Lady Lex’s” aircraft gave Imperial Japanese forces their first significant setback in its advances on New Guinea and Australia.

During the fight, the Lexington was hit by multiple torpedoes and bombs but a secondary explosion caused uncontrolled fires that finally warranted the call to abandon ship. With U.S. ships standing by, 2,770 sailors were rescued before the USS Phelps delivered the final torpedoes on May 8, 1942, that sank the crippled “Lady Lex” and her 35 aircraft.

EXPEDITION DETAILS

Wreckage from the USS Lexington was discovered by RV Petrel on March 4, 2018. The Lexington was found nearly 10,000 feet below the surface, resting on the floor of the Coral Sea more than 500 miles off the eastern coast of Australia.

MEDIA GALLERY

Confirmation that RV Petrel had positively identified the USS Lexington. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
Grumman F4F belonging to Noel Gayler, one of the first aces of World War II. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
Close up shot of the Grumman F4F plane lying near the USS Lexington. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
A magazine for an Oerlikon 20mm gun found near the wreck of the USS Lexington. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
A Douglas TBD-1 Devastator found along with the USS Lexington wreck. 35 planes went down with "Lady Lex." Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
Blast shield with writing that RV Petrel discovered with USS Lexington. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
Looking down the barrel of a 5 inch gun on USS Lexington. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
Two Douglas TBD-1 Devastators lie on top of each other near the wreck of the USS Lexington. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
Undetonated torpedo found along the USS Lexington wreckage site. Of the five torpedoes USS Phelps launched to scuttle the USS Lexington, we believe this was likely one of the two that were duds. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
Blast shield with descriptions detailing how to target enemy fighter planes. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
Toolbox found near the USS Lexington wreck. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
Another Douglas TBD-1 Devastator found next to USS Lexington. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.

USS Juneau in New York Harbor, February 11, 1942. Photograph from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the U.S. National Archives.

SHIP HISTORY

The five Sullivan brothers on board USS Juneau at the time of her commissioning ceremonies at the New York Navy Yard, 14 February 1942. All were lost with the ship following the 13 November 1942 Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. The brothers are (from left to right): Joseph, Francis, Albert, Madison and George Sullivan. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

The USS Juneau, an Atlanta–class light cruiser, was in service for just under a year before her sinking in World War II.

During the Battle of Guadalcanal on November 13, 1942, an Imperial Japanese torpedo hit on her port side sparking a significant explosion that cut the ship in half and killed most of the men onboard, including all five of the Sullivan brothers.

Because the Juneau sank in 30 seconds and due to the risk of further Japanese attacks, the American task force was unable to stay to search for survivors. Although approximately 115 of Juneau‘s crew reportedly survived the explosion (reports suggest two, maybe three, of the Sullivans survived the explosion), naval forces did not undertake rescue effort for several days and only 10 men were rescued from the water eight days after the sinking.

EXPEDITION DETAILS

Wreckage from the USS Juneau was discovered on March 17, 2018, by RV Petrel. The light cruiser was found about 13,800 feet below the surface, on the floor of the South Pacific off the coast of the Solomon Islands.

MEDIA GALLERY

Juneau's anchor found within the wreckage site. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
The rear torpedo launcher found onboard the USS Juneau. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
USS Juneau's quad anti-aircraft gun located and in position to protect more than seven decades after she sank. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
Another gun discovered on USS Juneau. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
On board USS Juneau at the time of her commissioning ceremonies at the New York Navy Yard, 14 February 1942. All were lost with the ship following the 13 November 1942 Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. The brothers are (from left to right): Joseph, Francis, Albert, Madison and George Sullivan. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.
A wide shot of the USS Juneau seen from RV Petrel's remotely operated vehicle (ROV). Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.

USS Helena anchored in President Roads, Boston, Massachusetts, June 15, 1940. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

SHIP HISTORY

Covered with oil of their torpedoed ship, USS Helena, survivors respond to a roll call aboard the destroyer which picked them up. Three times the destroyer had to leave off its rescue work to do battle with Japanese warships. Naval Subjects Collection.

Few ships can claim a history like that of USS Helena. Her distinguished and storied World War II service began at Pearl Harbor and ended with a dramatic rescue of her crew.

Commissioned in 1939 and assigned to the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet, Helena’s first taste of war came on December 7, 1941, when she was struck by a torpedo while moored at the naval base. After receiving an overhaul, Helena engaged her enemy in the Battles of Cape Esperance, Guadalcanal before being sunk during the Battle of Kula Gulf on July 6, 1943.

Helena’s history closed with the almost incredible story of what happened to her crew in the hours and days that followed. As various rescue efforts got underway over the course of 10 days, amazing stories of Sailor toughness unfolded in which 732 of the 900 crew survived the sinking and were ultimately rescued.

EXPEDITION DETAILS

The St. Louis–class cruiser was found by RV Petrel on March 24, 2018 nearly 3,000 feet below the surface, resting on the floor of the New Georgia Sound off the coast of the Solomon Islands.

MEDIA GALLERY

A big crab seen making its way across the USS Helena. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
A 5 inch covered with marine growth on the USS Helena. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
A plate inside the gun director onboard of the USS Helena. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
Wet and oil-covered survivors of USS Helena go over papers after their rescue from the waters of the Central Solomons, 6 July 1943. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.
Two benthic sea cucumbers swim nearby the wreck of the USS Helena. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
Covered with oil of their torpedoed ship, USS Helena survivors respond to a roll call aboard the destroyer which picked them up. Three times the destroyer had to leave off its rescue work to do battle with Japanese warships. Copyright Naval History and Heritage Command.

Imperial Japanese Navy destroyer Asashio. Kure Maritime Museum (public domain)

SHIP HISTORY

One of five Imperial Japanese Navy warships found by RV Petrel in the Surigao Strait off the coast of the Philippines, the IJN Asagumo was found 600 feet below the surface with her hull and superstructure mostly intact on November 24, 2017.

EXPEDITION DETAILS

As part of the Imperial Japanese fleet during the Battle of Surigao Strait, one of the series of battles in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the Asagumo sank on October 25, 1944, after a torpedo from the USS McDermut blew off her bow splitting the ship in two. Of her crew, 191 were killed and 39 survived.

Imperial Japanese Navy battleship Fusō undergoing post-reconstruction trials. Kure Maritime Museum (public domain)

SHIP HISTORY

IJN Fuso was considered an old battleship by the time World War II broke out. Built during World War I but seeing no action, Fuso was modernized just months before Pearl Harbor. Playing mostly an auxiliary role, she was thrust into the fray in the fall of 1944.

As part of the Imperial Japanese Navy’s Southern Force during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, Fuso, her sister ship Yamashiro and five other warships were dispatched to the Philippines to repel the Allied invasion. As the force approached the Surigao Strait they were ambushed. Heavily outnumbered by the American fleet waiting for them, Fuso found itself quickly battered by not only a line of battleships blocking her entrance to the Leyte Gulf but also the cruisers and PT boats that surrounded her. Slammed by torpedoes on the early morning of October 25, 1944, Fuso broke in half sinking rapidly killing an estimated 1,620 sailors with only 10 survivors.

MEDIA GALLERY

EXPEDITION DETAILS

The Fuso was found 73 years later when RV Petrel discovered the ship upside down on November 25, 2017.

Imperial Japanese Navy destroyer Michishio. Photo taken on October 31, 1937. Kure Maritime Museum (public domain)

SHIP HISTORY

Michishio participated in the battles of Badoeng Strait, Guadalcanal and the Philippine Sea before being assigned to Admiral Shoji Nishimura’s Southern Force at the Battle of Leyte Gulf. As one of seven warships, Michishio and another destroyer led the force up through Surigao Strait. Met by five U.S. destroyers on either side of her, Michishio was soon under attack. Crippled by a torpedo from the USS McDermut, Michishio’s demise came when a torpedo sent by the USS Hutchins missed the IJN Asagumo but struck the destroyer. The Michishio blew up and immediately sank on October 25, 1944 killing an unknown number of men. Four survived the fight and were rescued by the Americans.

Wreckage from IJN Michishio was discovered by RV Petrel on November 27, 2017, in the Surigao Strait off the coast of the Philippines. The Asashiondash;class destroyer was found in less than 600 feet below the surface and just a mile apart from her sister ship, IJN Yamagumo. Because both ships had substantial marine growth on them, it made it impossible for Petrel crew to positively identify the ships from each other.

Imperial Japanese Navy destroyer Yamagumo. Photo taken on September 15, 1939. Kure Maritime Museum (public domain)

SHIP HISTORY

IJN Yamagumo was an Asashio–class destroyer that served the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II. Yamagumo saw early action when it led the invasion of the Philippines early in December of 1941. But on December 31, 1941, Yamagumo suffered severe damage when she struck a Japanese mine. She was in repairs for much of the year before being dispatched to escort convoys through April of 1944. After seeing no action in the Battle of the Philippine Sea, the Yamagumo was sent to escort Admiral Shoji Nishimura’s Southern Force at the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

As the Yamagumo enters the Sarigao Strait on October 24, 1944, she and the rest of her force come under fire from U.S. aircraft but she escapes damage. The following day, the Yamagumo is hit. One or more torpedoes from the USS McDermut strike the Yamagumo breaking her in two and sinking her with only two survivors.

Possible image of IJN Yamagumo's boiler for steam turbine propulson. Because Yamagumo and her sister-ship, IJN Michishio, were found next to one another with substantial marine growth on them, the crew of RV Petrel could not positively identify the ships from each other. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd. China.jpg -- Some china was scattered around the wreckage of either the Yamagumo or IJN Michishio. This one had a pattern on it indicating that it was from the officer mess. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.

EXPEDITION DETAILS

Wreckage of the Yamagumo and her sister ship, IJN Michishio, were discovered by RV Petrel just a mile apart from each other. Found just 380 feet below the surface, both ships had substantial marine growth on them making it impossible for the crew to positively identify the ships from each other.

Imperial Japanese Navy battleship Yamashiro at Tateyama, Decemeber 1934. Naval History and Heritage Command

SHIP HISTORY

IJN Yamashiro at Tateyama, Japan, December 1934. Naval History and Heritage Command.

Commissioned for World War I, the IJN Yamashiro was the first Imperial Japanese battleship equipped with aircraft. Like her sister ship, the IJN Fuso, the Yamashiro saw no action in WWI and was modernized between the wars.

However, by the time World War II broke out, the Yamashiro and her pagoda style mast were considered old. As a result, the Yamashiro’s spent much of her WWII service around Japan. After a series of decisive defeats, the Yamashiro was dispatched to defeat the Allied invasion of the Philippines.

Serving as the flagship under Admiral Shoji Nishimura’s Southern Force at the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the Yamashiro meets her U.S. enemy upon entering the Surigao Strait on October 24, 1944. A bomb and strafing hits Shigure and Mogami of the Southern Force, but Yamashiro doesn’t receive damage. Heavily outnumbered, Admiral Nishimura’s force presses on. While Yamashiro is able to dish out hits to the U.S. fleet but as she was attempting to flee the scene she’s hit a series of torpedos and sunk killing the 1,636 aboard including Admiral Nishimura. Only 10 survive the fight.

EXPEDITION DETAILS

On November 25, 2017, RV Petrel discovered the Yamashiro updside down in more than 600 feet below the surface of the Surigao Strait.

Imperial Japanese Navy destroyer Hamanami underway on 10 October 1943. Kure Maritime Museum (public domain)

SHIP HISTORY

The IJN Hamanami was a destroyer which served the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II. Built in October of 1943, the Hamanami saw action in the battles of the Philippine Sea, Leyte Gulf and Samar before being sent to Manila, Philippines to assist troop transports.

On November 11, 1944, as she was escorting a troop convoy reinforce and resupply Imperial Japanese forces, US Navy aircraft spotted the ship and sank the Hamanami in Ormoc Bay killing 63. The destroyer Asashimo rescued Hamanami’s 167 survivors.

MEDIA GALLERY

One of the 25mm anti-aircraft guns mounted on IJN Hamanami's stern. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
A look at IJN Hamanami's 127 mm guns. She had two turrets aft and one forward. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
IJN Hamanami's aft most torpedo launcher. The ship appeared to be split at the forward torpedo launcher. Also visible in this image is Hamanami's rangefinder for the torpedo launcher and an anti-aircraft gun laying on top of the torpedo launcher. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
As you can see through this imaage, IJN Hamanami's stern ship collapsed. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
While leaving Ormoc, the crew of RV Petrel's multi-beam, pictured here, discovered IJN Hamanami. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.

EXPEDITION DETAILS

While leaving Ormoc Bay on January 18, 2018, the crew of RV Petrel discovered the Hamanami at a depth of more than 1,000 feet below the surface with her stern collapsed.

Imperial Japanese Navy destroyer Naganami in June 1942 at time of her completion. Kure Maritime Museum (public domain)

SHIP HISTORY

IJN Naganami was a Yugumo–class destroyer of the Imperial Japanese Navy. Although, she saw action at the battles of Empress Augusta Bay and Tassafaronga, Naganami’s mainly served as a troop transport and escort through much of her World War II service.

After escorting a troop convoy to reinforce and resupply Japanese forces on Ormoc in the Philippines, the Naganami was deployed to assist with another convoy, joining just before it approached Ormoc on November 10, 1944. On the following day, the Naganami and other warships came under attack from U.S. aircraft. The Naganami sank on November 11, 1944 after an explosion amidships broke her in two. Of the 228 sailors onboard, 156 went down with the ship.

MEDIA GALLERY

An anti-aircraft gun next to a boat davit in the background. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
Another anti-aircraft gun found on IJN Naganami. This gun is located right before a large crater where another part of the ship lays. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
This is the last gun that the crew of RV Petrel found along the port side of Naganami. Naganami broke just aft of this gun and the crew could not find any additional parts of the ship. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
RV Petrel found IJN Naganami's number one turret laying on the bottom, fallen off the front of the ship with the bow of the ship close by. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.

EXPEDITION DETAILS

On December 1, 2017, RV Petrel discovered the Naganami in shallow water 800 feet below the surface of Ormoc Bay. Naganami’s sister ship, IJN Hamanami along with destroyers IJN Wakatsuki and Shimakaze were sunk in the convoy and also discovered by RV Petrel in the bay.

Imperial Japanese Navy Destroyer Shimakaze underway. Public domain.

SHIP HISTORY

IJN Shimakaze was ordered by the Imperial Japanese Navy as an experimental “super destroyer” during World War II. Fitted with six 127 mm dual–purpose guns, conventional anti–aircraft and anti–submarine weaponry, the Shimakaze was the only Japanese destroyer armed with the ability to fire the deadly “Long Lance” torpedo. The impressive armament wasn’t the only thing unique about the Shimakaze, her experimental steam turbines made her one of the fastest destroyers in the world.

Commissioned in 1943, the Shimakaze immediately saw service when she helped evacuate Japanese troops from Kiska Island as part of the Aleutian Islands campaign. In June of 1944, the Shimakaze was part of the Japanese fleet during the Battle of the Philippine Sea and also participated in the Battle of Leyte Gulf but didn’t see any action, though she did rescue survivors of the battleship IJN Musashi.

On November 9, 1944, the Shimakaze was deployed to lead the escort of troops from Manila to Ormoc in the Philippines. On November 11, as she was entering Ormoc Bay, the Shimakaze and the rest of the troop convoy came under fire from U.S. Navy aircraft and was disabled early in the Battle of Ormoc Bay. Drifting and burning all afternoon, the Shimakaze exploded and sank with an unknown number of crew.

MEDIA GALLERY

Some of the equipment on the torpedo launcher. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
A look at one of IJN Shimikaze's 127mm guns. She had four onboard. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
The Shimikaze's port side propeller. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
One of three torpedo launchers seen on the IJN Shimikaze by RV Petrel. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.

EXPEDITION DETAILS

The crew of RV Petrel found the wreck of the Shimakaze in Ormoc Bay on December 1, 2017, when her torpedo launchers confirmed identity.

Imperial Japanese Navy Destroyer Wakatsuki under attack at Ormoc Bay, Leyte Island, Philippines. Public domain.

SHIP HISTORY

Originally designed as an escort for Japanese carrier groups but modified with torpedo launchers to serve as a general destroyer, the Wakatsuki was commissioned on May 31, 1943. Her first mission shortly thereafter on June 8, 1943 defined much of the Wakatsuki’s World War II service. Along with four other destroyers, the Wakatsuki helped rescue survivors of the battleship Mutsu. She would do this five more times when the Minazuki, Shokaku, Taiho, Zuikaku and Zuiho all went down.

After escorting a troop convoy from Manila to Ormoc in the Philippines, the Wakatsuki was deployed to assist with another convoy, joining just before it approached Ormoc on November 10, 1944. The next day, the Wakatsuki and three other destroyers attached to the convoy came under attack. U.S. Navy aircraft dispatched from Admiral Halsey’s Task Force 38 brought the Wakatsuki to a halt sinking her through bomb and torpedo hits on November 11, 1944. Records aren’t clear but the Wakatsuki blew up with heavy loss of life.

MEDIA GALLERY

The side of the ship would be the horizontal surface in this photo. Unsure if the side of the hull was bent from the impact with the seafloor or battle damage. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
A look inside the barrel of one of IJN Wakatsuki's turret. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
One of the anti-aircraft shells found on IJN Wakatsuki. The two red dots, spaced 25 cm apart, are the lasers from RV Petrel's ROV. This portion of the wreckage is very close to the bow. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
IJN Wakatsuki's anchor found less than 900 feet below the surface of Ormoc Bay off the coast of the Philippines. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
A view of Wakatsuki's bow. She is resting on her starboard side at the bottom of Ormoc Bay. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
Forward part of wreckage.jpg -- The forward part of the largest piece RV Petrel could find of IJN Wakatsuki. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.

EXPEDITION DETAILS

The Imperial Japanese Navy destroyer Wakatsuki was one of four warships found in Ormoc Bay by RV Petrel. IJN Wakatsuki was discovered on December 1, 2017, less than 900 feet below the surface.

USS Cooper photographed when first completed, circa March 1944. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command.

SHIP HISTORY

The USS Cooper’s history in World War II was brief. Laid down in late 1943 and commissioned on March 27, 1944, the Cooper’s first surface battle on December 3, 1944, was unfortunately her last.

Sent to Leyte Gulf to join the Allen M. Sumner and Moale on patrols, the Cooper engaged in a hectic engagement around midnight, sinking an Imperial Japanese Navy destroyer and inflicting severe damage to another target before succumbing to a Japanese torpedo herself. Just 15 minutes into the battle, the Cooper was split in two and sank in less than a minute according to ship’s captain.

MEDIA GALLERY

A 5 inch gun see on the wreckage of USS Cooper. RV Petrel found the Cooper resting on the floor of Ormoc Bay in the Philippines more than 600 feet below the surface. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.

EXPEDITION DETAILS

Nearly 73 years after that fateful day, the crew on RV Petrel discovered the wreck of the USS Cooper more than 600 feet below the surface of Ormoc Bay off the coast of the Philippines.

USS Ward photographed on February 26, 1919. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

SHIP HISTORY

The USS Ward, a Wickes–class destroyer, had been patrolling the Pearl Harbor entrance on the morning of December 7, 1941, when she spotted an 80–foot–long, midget submarine, trailing the USS Antares into the harbor. The USS Ward accelerated to bear down on the submarine. Just three minutes after first sight of the submarine, the USS Ward fired the first American shot in World War II.

On December 7, 1944, three years to the day of the Pearl Harbor attack, the USS Ward was lost after being struck by a kamikaze. She had been patrolling Ormoc Bay, Leyte serving as a high–speed transport for troops. A direct hit to her hull caused fires that could not be contained, and the crew was ordered to abandon ship. The USS Ward was sunk by gunfire from the USS O’Brien with no fatalities. Interestingly, William W. Outerbridge, the captain of O’Brien that scuttled the Ward, was the captain of USS Ward during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

MEDIA GALLERY

The bow of the USS Ward, found by RV Petrel nearly 700 feet below the surface of Ormoc Bay off the coast of the Philippines. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
A gun found onboard of USS Ward more than seven decades after her sinking. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
Afire after she was hit by a Kamikaze in Ormoc Bay, Leyte, on 7 December 1944. She sank later in the day. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.
A Shot for Posterity The USS Ward's number three gun and its crew-cited for firing the first shot the day of Japan's raid on Hawaii. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command.

EXPEDITION DETAILS

On December 1, 2017, RV Petrel sent its Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) to explore and document the remains of the USS Ward, where she lays nearly 700 feet below the surface of Ormoc Bay.

Starboard side view of the Italian destroyer Artigliere, October 12, 1940. Public domain

SHIP HISTORY

The Artigliere was sunk by the Royal Navy’s HMS York on October 12, 1940 during the Battle of Cape Passero. Of the more than 250 sailors aboard the Artigliere, 132 were lost at sea.

MEDIA GALLERY

The IT Artigliere's bridge seen more than 12,000 feet below the surface of the Mediterranean Sea. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
One of IT Artigliere's guns found on the wreck. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
A look at Artigliere's hull, which positively confirmed that after 77 years, she had been found. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen. Copyright Navigea Ltd.

EXPEDITION DETAILS

Located in the Sicilyndash;Malta escarpment, RV Petrel’s first discovery was almost by accident. As part of Petrel’s sea trials, the crew was testing newly installed equipment when an abnormal shape appeared.

Using Petrel’s remotely operated vehicle (ROV), the crew found Italian destroyer Artigliere more than 12,000 feet (about 3,700 meters) below the surface of the Mediterranean Sea in March of 2017.

The last known image of HMAS AE1 submarine taken on September 9, 1914. Photo: Australian Navy

SHIP HISTORY

The HMAS AE1 was the first submarine to serve in the Royal Australian Navy, commissioned in February 1914, just before the start of World War I.

Just a few months later, in September 1914, the 800–ton AE1 and her 35 crew members were lost off the coast of Papua New Guinea. For more than 100 years, her sinking — the first Allied submarine loss of WWI — was a significant mystery of Australian military history.

MEDIA GALLERY

RV Petrel inspecting stern torpedo tube of HMAS AE1. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen, Find AE1, ANMM and Curtin University. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
HMAS AE1's starboard propeller, after hydroplane, hydroplane guard and a resident grouper. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen, Find AE1, ANMM and Curtin University. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
The fin, forward periscope and starboard ballast blower outlet of HMAS AE1. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen, Find AE1, ANMM and Curtin University. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
HMAS AE1 fin and implosion rubble over control room. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen, Find AE1, ANMM and Curtin University. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
Implosion in forward torpedo compartment of HMAS AE1. Forward torpedo tube rear door and associated hand wheels visible. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen, Find AE1, ANMM and Curtin University. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
Whitetip shark near the wreck of HMAS AE1, startled by the first lights to reach the wreck in 103 years. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen, Find AE1, ANMM and Curtin University. Copyright Navigea Ltd.
Flags commemorating the lost crew of HMAS AE1. Image courtesy of Paul G. Allen, Find AE1, ANMM and Curtin University. Copyright Navigea Ltd.

EXPEDITION DETAILS

RV Petrel joined with the RAN on an expedition to explore the AE1 and capture HD video that will be used to create a 3D image of the wreck that may allow experts to finally explain what happened to cause her sinking.