Researchers find warship wreck near Alaska lost for 75 years - We Are The Mighty
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Researchers find warship wreck near Alaska lost for 75 years

Almost exactly 75 years ago, on Aug. 18, 1943, the USS Abner Read was rocked by a severe explosion.

The blast — which most historians say was likely a Japanese mine — tore the 75-foot stern section of the ship clean off. The stern plummeted to the depths of the ocean, taking the lives of 71 US sailors with it, while other US ships rushed to the rescue.

Though the rest of the USS Abner Read was miraculously saved and towed into port, the original stern was thought to be lost forever — until now.


On July 17, 2018, a team of scientists, divers, and archaeologists partially funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration discovered the missing section of the ship in just under 300 feet of water off the coast of Kiska Island, a part of Alaska’s remote Aleutian Islands chain.

Here’s what the expedition to discover the long-lost wreck was like.

Researchers find warship wreck near Alaska lost for 75 years

The R/V Norseman II at sea near the Aleutians.

(Kiska: Alaska’s Underwater Battlefield expedition)

Researchers find warship wreck near Alaska lost for 75 years

A North American B-25 Mitchell Glides over an American destroyer after taking off from Unmak Island for a raid on the Japanese base at Kiska.

Researchers find warship wreck near Alaska lost for 75 years

USS Abner Read (DD 526) as seen in Hunters Point, California on June 13, 1943.

Researchers find warship wreck near Alaska lost for 75 years

The 474-feet long Japanese transport ship Nisan Maru sunk in Kiska Harbor after it was stuck by bombs dropped by the US 11th Air force on June 18, 1942. Two other Japanese ships are visible in the harbor nearby.

Researchers find warship wreck near Alaska lost for 75 years

USS Abner Read (DD 526) afire and sinking in Leyte Gulf, Nov. 1, 1944, after being hit by a kamikaze. A second Japanese suicide plane (circled) is attempting to crash another ship; however, this one was shot down short of its target.

(U.S. Navy Photo)

After the stern section of the Abner Read sunk on Aug. 18, 1943, it remained lost on the bottom of the sea for almost 75 years. The ship was eventually repaired and re-entered active service.

In 1944, the Abner Read was sunk off the coast of the Philippines by a Japanese dive bomber, as seen in the image above.

Researchers find warship wreck near Alaska lost for 75 years

US soldiers inspect Japanese midget subs left behind after the US retook Kiska Island.

Researchers find warship wreck near Alaska lost for 75 years

Team members launch one of the project’s four REMUS 100 autonomous underwater vehicles from R/V Norseman II for a survey of the seafloor.

(Kiska: Alaska’s Underwater Battlefield expedition)

Researchers find warship wreck near Alaska lost for 75 years

Team member Matt Breece lowers the project ROV over the side of Research Vessel Norseman II.

(Kiska: Alaska’s Underwater Battlefield expedition)

The expedition was part of Project Recover, a collaborative partnership between the University of Delaware, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, Bent Prop, a nonprofit, and US Navy partners to find and document the underwater resting places of American soldiers from World War II.

Source: Project Recover

Researchers find warship wreck near Alaska lost for 75 years

Project Recover team members perform maintenance on a REMUS 100 AUV.

(Project Recover)

Researchers find warship wreck near Alaska lost for 75 years

A dive team deploys to investigate sonar targets collected by the REMUS 100 AUV. The R/V Norseman II sails in the background.

(Kiska: Alaska’s Underwater Battlefield expedition)

“The 17 hours of daylight that now occur at this high latitude were both a godsend and a curse as there was ample time to work, but little time to sleep,” Eric Terrill, an oceanographer and the leader of the expedition, said in a mission log.

Source: NOAA

Researchers find warship wreck near Alaska lost for 75 years

Project Recover team members Bob Hess and Eric Terrill prepare to launch one of four REMUS 100 AUVs utilized during a survey.

(NOAA Project Recover)

Researchers find warship wreck near Alaska lost for 75 years

A REMUS 100 AUV glides away from a research boat before diving beneath the surface, where it would spend the next six hours systematically scanning the seafloor.

(Project Recover)

Researchers find warship wreck near Alaska lost for 75 years

A view from Kiska Island overlooking a cannon, sunken ship, and the Norseman II.

(Kiska: Alaska’s Underwater Battlefield expedition)

Researchers find warship wreck near Alaska lost for 75 years

Members of the expedition take time to examine a Japanese mini submarine that remains on Kiska Island.

(Kiska: Alaska’s Underwater Battlefield expedition)

Researchers find warship wreck near Alaska lost for 75 years

A 120-millimeter anti-aircraft gun on Kiska Island.

(Kiska: Alaska’s Underwater Battlefield expedition)

While beautiful, the island is a frigid, haunting monument to a battle that claimed the lives of almost 5,000 Japanese and American men.

Source: NOAA

Researchers find warship wreck near Alaska lost for 75 years

Historical image of the USS Abner Read. The red box indicates that section of the vessel that was blown off and sunk when the vessel struck a mine on Aug. 18, 1943.

(U.S. Navy photo)

Researchers find warship wreck near Alaska lost for 75 years

Wreckage of the USS Abner Read captured by the project’s remotely operated vehicle.

(Kiska: Alaska’s Underwater Battlefield expedition)

Researchers find warship wreck near Alaska lost for 75 years

The inside of the hull of the USS Abner Read’s stern.

(Kiska: Alaska’s Underwater Battlefield expedition)

Researchers find warship wreck near Alaska lost for 75 years

A giant Pacific octopus now lives on the wreckage.

(Kiska: Alaska’s Underwater Battlefield expedition)

Researchers find warship wreck near Alaska lost for 75 years

Wreckage of the USS Abner Read captured by the project’s ROV.

(Kiska: Alaska’s Underwater Battlefield expedition)

Researchers find warship wreck near Alaska lost for 75 years

Team members explore the island.

(NOAA Project Recover)

“We take our responsibility to protect these wrecks seriously,” Samuel Cox, the director of the Naval History and Heritage Command said. The USS Abner Read is the “last resting place of American sailors,” he added.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

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