We had been giving up the USS Albacore submarine for lost at the bottom of the sea for 80 years. Until now


the one of USS Albacore (SS-218) was a fleeting story. Fleeting in its own way. The ship, a submarine of the cat class A little over 95 meters long, it was launched at the beginning of 1942 in the USA and after playing a prominent role during World War II, it vanished from the map less than three years later, at the end of 1944.

He did it just as if he had been swallowed by the waters of the Pacific and leaving a service sheet as brief as it was intense. Now, eight decades later, the SS-218 has just written the last chapter of it. Or rather, we are the ones who have finally been able to clarify what happened to him in 1944. Some researchers have managed to locate its sunken remains in front of the shores of hokkaidoin Japan.

His discovery not only helps to complete the chronicle of the Second World War and US naval history. It also serves to settle a mystery whose resolution was intuited, but still lacked a definitive answer: what happened to the Gato-class submersible that was lost that November 7 from 79 years ago.

Solve a question of 79 years

Underwater image released by the America’s Navy.

The discovery of the wreck is the merit of the team doctor tamaki uraof the University of Tokyowho relied on the records of the Japan Center for Asian Historical Records (JACAR) about the loss of a US submarine on November 7, 1944. With the help of a remote-controlled vehicle, the team led by Dr. Ura was able to collect data and confirm historical records.

The task was not easy. The strong currents, the algae and aquatic weeds developed in the area and, in general, poor visibility, complicated the work to document the wreck and obtain images. The video taken by the Ura team shows in any case certain characteristics confirming that the wreckage belongs to a Gato-class submersible from late 1944.

Of the USS Albacore Certain features documented before its last patrol mission are also known to help identify it, such as that it had an SJ radar satellite dish, a mast and a row of ventilation holes on its top or that it lacked steel plates on the upper edge of the transom. All these characteristics have allowed the UAB to verify the Underwater Archeology Section of the US Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC), that what the Ura team has located is the old submarine.

“Thanks to your hard work and continued collaboration we were able to confirm the identity of the Albacore after being lost at sea for more than 70 years,” celebrates Navy Rear Admiral Samuel J. Cox. UAB volunteers were also trying to clarify the location of SS-218.


The Albacore (SS-218) in a 1942 image.

The news has a special value, since, as Remember the US Army, the Albacore is much more than an old sunken submarine, however important its role in the war may have been. On top of that it is “the final resting place for sailors who gave their lives in defense” of the US: “It must be respected by all parties as a war grave.”

The Albacore is the work of Electric Boat Company, who built it in Groton, Connecticut. Entered service in June 1942 and before he lost track he managed to complete 11 patrols and accumulated a service sheet more than remarkable: 10 confirmed enemy ship sinkings and another three still unverified, which allowed him to win nine battle stars and four mentions.

The ship belonged to the Cat-classthe same one in which the USS Amberjack (SS-19), which appears in the main image. she was about 95 meters long with a beam of just over eight meters and could reach a speed, in its best conditions, of 20.2 knots. She incorporated several machine guns and torpedo launchers, which contributed to the role she played during the war.

His enigmatic ending helped complete his myth.

At the end of October 1944, she left Pearl Harbor and shortly thereafter was passing through Mindway to fill up her fuel tanks. Nothing more was heard from him again. Japanese records say that days later, on November 7, a submarine hit a mine close to the coast, northeast of Hokkaido.

A Japanese patrol boat was able to watch the explosion and how cork, bedding, supplies and a large amount of oil rose to the surface.

On December 21, Albacore was considered lost and its name ended up being erased from the Navy list March 30, 45. Although even then it was assumed that the incident recorded in Hokkaido was related to the ill-fated SS-218, today, thanks to the researchers, we can put an end to its chronicle.

Cover image: Alex Lindeman (Flickr), America’s Navy and Naval History and Heritage Command

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Written by Editor TLN

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