Discovery of a lost Cold War submarine

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Veteran Ocean Explorer and Tiburon submarine CEO Tim Taylor and his “Lost 52 Project” team added submarine ocean discoveries to their list USS Stickleback (SS 415). The submarine was lost 62 years ago in nearly 11,000 feet of water and is one of four submarines that suffered this fate during the Cold War.

In nine years, Taylor and his Lost 52 project team discovered six US submarines using pioneering robotics and methods at the cutting edge of today’s submarine technology. By applying a combination of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and advanced photogrammetric imaging technology, Taylor and his team have amassed the most comprehensive historical archaeological record to date, said the team.

The WWII submarine Stickleback was commissioned on March 29, 1945. The submarine was deployed to Guam and began its first war patrol on August 6 of the same year when it left for the Sea of ​​Japan. Stickleback arrived the following week and began his patrol. During this period, atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and it was believed that the war would end shortly.

Stickleback had only been in the patrol area for two days when the ceasefire order was adopted. He remained in the area and on August 21 saw two bamboo rafts containing 19 survivors from a freighter. They were embarked for 18 hours, fed, fed, cared for and floated a short distance from one of the Japanese islands.

Stickleback returned to Guam on September 9, 1945. He left for the United States the next day, arrived in San Francisco, and participated in the Third Fleet parade on September 28. After a short cruise to the Hawaiian Islands, Stickleback was disarmed and put into reserve on June 26, 1946.

Sonar image of the forward hull of the USS Strickleback. Image of the lost project team 52

The submarine was returned to service on September 6, 1951 and served in San Diego as a training ship. She was decommissioned a second time on November 14, 1952 and converted to a Guppy IIA type submarine. Returned to service on June 26, 1953, Stickleback joined Sub Squadron 7 at Pearl Harbor. The Sub supported United Nations forces in Korea from February to July 1954 when it returned to Pearl Harbor. From 1954 to 1957, it conducted intelligence gathering operations off the coast of the Soviet Union.

May 28, 1958, Stickleback was participating in an anti-submarine warfare exercise with the escort destroyer USS Silverstein (DE 534) and a torpedo catcher in the Hawaii area.

During these exercises, the submarine had just completed a simulated torpedo on Silverstein and was diving to a safe depth when he lost power and descended uncontrollably to nearly 800 feet. Emergency buoyancy ballast was added and the vessel quickly mounted only to pass about 200 yards (180 m) ahead of the destroyer escort. Upon consent, a rocket could not be fired because the crew had evacuated the aft torpedo room. The collision alarm was triggered and Silverstein backed up fully, rudder fully to the left, but could not avoid a collision. The result was a hole in the submarine on its port side and the loss of the submarine.

Remarkably, there were no deaths. The SticklebackThe torpedo crew were removed by the torpedo, and combined efforts were made by several ships to save the submarine. Rescue ships tied lines around her, but all compartments were flooded, and Stickleback sank in 1,800 fathoms (3,300 m) of water.

Stickleback is the third submarine to be discovered of the four Navy submarines lost since the end of World War II. USS Cochino (SS 345), USS Thresher (SSN 593), and USS Scorpion (SSN 589) were also lost during the Cold War.

“Project Lost 52 continues to expand our work to search for other lost ships of World War II. After making the historic discovery of the USS Grayback and the final resting place for its 80 valiant crews off the coast of Japan, I am proud of this recent Cold War discovery that honors men, their memory and their mission, ”Taylor said in a prepared statement.

“We are grateful for the respectful and non-intrusive work of Project Lost 52 in locating and documenting Navy submarine wrecks,” said Dr Bob Neyland, head of the Underwater Archeology branch of Naval History. and Heritage Command. “Each discovery assists the Naval History and Heritage Command in its mission to preserve and protect sunken Navy military ships and provides an opportunity to remember and honor the service of our sailors and navies. “

The discovery of the Stickleback is part of the ongoing “Lost 52 Project” supported in part by STEP Ventures and has been recognized by JAMSTEC (Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology) as the first and most comprehensive offshore submarine archaeological expedition in Japanese waters .


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