Divers discover WWII submarine

The lost wreck was found in the Strait of Malacca

By   |  Published: 17th Sep 2020  1:52 pm
Belgian diver Ben Reymenants (right) poses for an underwater selfie photo along with Australian diver Lance Horowitz in the Strait of Malacca on November 6, 2019. A four-man team of deep-sea divers in Southeast Asia has found what they believe is the wreck of a U.S. Navy submarine lost in 1943 during World War II. (Ben Reymenants via AP)

Bangkok: Divers have found what they believe is the wreck of a US Navy submarine lost 77 years ago in Southeast Asia, providing a coda to a stirring but little-known tale from World War II.

The divers have sent photos and other evidence from six dives they made from October 2019 to March this year to the United States Naval History and Heritage Command for verification that they have found the USS Grenadier, one of 52 American submarines lost during the conflict.

The 1,475-ton, 307-foot long Grenadier was scuttled by its crew after bombs from a Japanese plane almost sent them to a watery grave.

The wreck lies 82 meters (270 feet) underwater somewhere in the Strait of Malacca, about 150 kilometers (92 miles) south of Phuket, Thailand. It was discovered by Singapore-based Jean Luc Rivoire and Benoit Laborie of France, and Australian Lance Horowitz and Belgian Ben Reymenants, who live in Phuket, Thailand.

The team would ask fishermen if there were any odd spots where they’d lost nets, and then would use side-looking sonar to scan the sea floor for distinct shapes. When they dived to look at one promising object, it was a lot bigger than expected.

“We took very precise measurements of the submarine and compared those with the naval records. And they’re as per the drawings, the exact same size. So we’re pretty confident that it is the USS Grenadier.” The head of Navy command’s Underwater Archaeology Branch, Dr Robert Neyland, said, “A complete review, analysis, and documentation may take two months to a year to complete.” The Grenadier’s first five missions took it to Japanese home waters, the Formosa shipping lanes, among others.