British divers have found a WWI US Navy wreck that had been missing under the ocean since 1917.
A team of experienced divers was able to locate the missing ship on August 11, 40 miles off the Isles of Scilly, which is in the far south of Cornwall, England.
The USS Jacob Jones was one of six Tucker-class destroyers, designed and built by the US Navy before the country entered what was then known as the Great War.
The impressive ship was the first American destroyer to be sunk by enemy action, torpedoed off the Isles of Scilly in 1917 by a German U-boat.
With 150 on board, 66 men met their fateful end on December 6, 1917.
One of the divers who took part in the expedition, Dominic Robinson, noted the significance of the find primarily for its historical significance.
Robinson, 52, said: “This is such an exciting discovery –Jacob Jones was the first ship of its type to be lost in enemy action. The ship, lost for more than 100 years, was on many people’s wish list due to its historic weight. He has a particular interest in America given the amount they spent designing the destroyers.”
Once the United States entered the world conflict in April 1917, the USS Jacob Jones was sent overseas.
Upon returning to Ireland, the ship was sailing about 40 miles from the Isles of Scilly when it was spotted by the German submarine.
Robinson and his team at Dark Star have a long history of deep exploration and have identified shipwrecks from all over the UK including the HMS Jason in Scotland and the submarine HMS B1.
The diver added: “One of the most interesting things about this vessel was the remarkable stories that accompanied its sinking.
“The commander of the destroyer ordered all life rafts and boats to be launched, but as the ship sank the armed depth charges began to explode, killing most of the men who had not able to escape from the departing ship.
“A few crew members and officers also attempted to drag men out of the water and into the life rafts. One name in particular was Stanton F. Kalk, who spent his time swimming between the rafts in the icy waters of the Atlantic.
“But he ended up dying of cold and exhaustion – he was awarded the Navy Distinguished Service Medal for his heroic actions that day.
“The commander of the German submarine, Captain Hans Rose, was incredibly kind – he actually saw all the Jacob Jones men in the water and took two seriously injured crew members aboard his own submarine.
“He then radioed his enemies at the American base at Queenstown (the town in Ireland now known as Cobh) their coordinates to come and rescue the survivors.”
Jacob Jones sank in eight minutes without making a distress call.
Robinson, who has been a deep-sea diver for more than 30 years, explained how he and fellow Dark Star divers were able to identify the vessel.
Robinson said: “We had already decided that we were going to look for the vessel, but due to its depth and its remoteness, it is very difficult to access it.
“So we’ve spent this week going to various GPS locations – provided by the UK Hydrographic Office – which have information on where the wrecks are on the seabed, but don’t know which ones. We found the vessel during our second day of diving.to other wrecks in the area, but there had been many hours of searching beforehand.
“That day, five of us went into the water, and the ship was about 377 feet from the seabed and 360 feet from the top of the wreck.
“It was very clear that it was Jacob Jones immediately – you can see his name written on parts of the wreckage.
“It was a steamship that had big boilers and really big engines in it to make it travel at such speed. Warships are very different from cargo ships underwater – we could actually see the guns, the torpedo tubes and one of the propeller shafts which was twisted 390 degrees – which would have happened either when the ship exploded or when it hit the seabed.”
Robinson added: “No human remains were found or any personal artifacts. But, for me, what brought him home was the twisted propeller shaft, which shows the trauma that the ship must have suffered when it was torpedoed.
The ship, which was 315 feet long and just over 30 feet wide, was armed with eight 21-inch torpedo tubes and four 4-inch guns.
The ship was powered by a pair of steam turbines, capable of propelling it to speeds of up to 34.5 miles per hour.
Produced in association with SWNS.
This story was provided to Newsweek by Zenger News.