Underwater images of USS Samuel B Roberts shipwreck taken by Victor Vescovo's ocean expeditions company 180622 CREDIT Caladan Oceanic.jpg
Caladan Oceanic Expeditions found the shipwreck of USS Samuel B. Roberts (Picture: Caladan Oceanic).
History

Former US Navy commander discovers Second World War shipwreck

USS Samuel B Roberts is the deepest shipwreck ever discovered.

Underwater images of USS Samuel B Roberts shipwreck taken by Victor Vescovo's ocean expeditions company 180622 CREDIT Caladan Oceanic.jpg
Caladan Oceanic Expeditions found the shipwreck of USS Samuel B. Roberts (Picture: Caladan Oceanic).

A US destroyer that engaged a superior Japanese fleet in the Philippines in the largest sea battle of the Second World War has become the deepest shipwreck to be discovered, according to explorers.

The USS Samuel B Roberts, popularly known as the "Sammy B", was found, broken into two pieces, on a slope at a depth of 22,916ft.

That puts it 1,400ft deeper than the USS Johnston, the previous deepest wreck discovered last year in the Philippine Sea.

Both were identified by American explorer Victor Vescovo, founder of Caladan Oceanic Expeditions, who announced the latest find alongside UK-based EYOS Expeditions.

The former US Navy commander said it was an "extraordinary honour" to locate the "incredibly famous ship".

"By doing so [we] have the chance to retell her story of heroism and duty to those who may not know of the ship and her crew’s sacrifice," Mr Vescovo added.

The Sammy B took part in the Battle off Samar, the final phase of the Battle of Leyte Gulf in October 1944, in which the Imperial Japanese Navy suffered its biggest loss of ships and failed to dislodge the US forces from Leyte, which they invaded earlier as part of the liberation of the Philippines.

According to records, the destroyer disabled a Japanese heavy cruiser with a torpedo and significantly damaged another.

After virtually all its ammunition was spent, she was critically hit by the lead battleship Yamato and sank.

Of a 224-man crew, 120 were saved, including the captain, Lieutenant Commander Robert W Copeland.

According to Samuel J Cox, a retired admiral and naval historian, Lt Cdr Copeland had stated there was "no higher honour" than to have led the men who displayed such incredible courage going into battle against overwhelming odds, from which survival could not be expected.

"This site is a hallowed war grave, and serves to remind all Americans of the great cost borne by previous generations for the freedom we take for granted today," Mr Cox said.

The explorers said that up until the discovery, the historical records of where the wreck was were not very accurate.

The search involved the use of the deepest side-scan sonar ever installed and operated on a submersible, well beyond the standard commercial limitations of 19,685ft.