(CNN) — There is a new deeper wreck to be identified and studied, and that is the USS Destroyer Escort Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413), known as the Sammy B.
It is located more than six kilometers deep under the Pacific Ocean, split in half and lodged in a slope.
Victor Vescovo, an explorer who has already made expeditions to the deepest points in the world, located the shipwreck on June 22.
It is located at a depth of 6,895 meters, in the Philippine Sea. By comparison, the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro is 5,896 meters, while the world’s highest permanent settlement, La Rinconada in the Peruvian Andes, stands at 5,100 meters.
Previously, the deepest shipwreck ever identified and studied was the USS Johnston, found last year by Vescovo at 6,469 meters.
Vescovo, the pilot, and sonar specialist Jeremie Morizet dove to scour the wreck from end to end. It has broken into two pieces, which lie about 10 meters apart from each other.
The Sammy B. was sunk in the Battle of Samar on October 25, 1944, in which the US Navy defeated the large Japanese fleet, east of the island of Samar in the Philippines. She took on three Japanese battleships, including the Yamato, said to be the largest ever built. The American ship carried 224 crew members, of whom 89 died. Captain Robert W. Copeland was one of the survivors.
The ship “fiercely fought despite being completely outmatched by the Japanese battleships and heavy cruisers it faced,” Vescovo told CNN.
“The heroism of her captain and crew is legendary in the Navy, and it was a great honor to find her final resting place. I think it helps bring closure to the ship’s history, for the families of those who were lost and those who served on I think the fact that a ship disappears into the depths, never to be seen again, can leave those associated with the ship feeling empty.”
“The discovery of the ships can help turn the page, and also provide details about the battle that we may not have known before. As we say, ‘steel does not lie.'”
Vescovo, founder of the Caladan Oceanic exploration company, and a team from EYOS Expeditions made six dives over eight days in search of the ship, as well as another US vessel, the Gambier Bay.
Previous records pointing to the location of the ships had been inaccurate, but the team enlisted the help of a custom-built side-scan sonar, as well as extensive research.
Initially, they located a three-tube torpedo launcher and identified it as the remains of the Sammy B., since it was the only one of the sunken ships to have such an element. On the last day, they located the wreck.
Vescovo called it an “honor” to find the ship, saying in a statement locating it had given the team the opportunity to “retell their story of heroism and duty.”
“In difficult times, it is important to reflect on those who sacrificed so much, so willingly, in even more difficult times to secure our freedoms and way of life,” he said.
“I am always in awe of the extraordinary bravery of those who fought this battle against truly overwhelming odds…and won.”
And he told CNN that they hadn’t even been sure the trip was going to be successful.
“The Sammy B. is a small ship when it comes to military ships, and we weren’t really sure we could find her in the vast and extremely deep ocean where she sank. But through perseverance, great historical analysis, deep sea and hard work, we were able to find him and provide a great opportunity to tell his incredible story,” he explained.
“It is incredibly exciting to find a shipwreck at the bottom of the ocean, given all the difficulties in trying to find them. It is an immense privilege to be the first person to see them after they sank in battle almost 80 years ago.”
Kelvin Murray, Head of Expedition and Director of Expedition Operations and Subsea Projects at EYOS, said:
“As always, there has been an incredible and dedicated effort from the entire team: the ship’s crew, the submarine team, the historians and other specialists. Using a combination of detective work and innovative technology, they have all collaborated to reveal the final resting place of this tenacious ship.
“It has been a challenging, exciting and moving expedition, recognizing the ships and sailors from all nations who fought so hard during this battle. We are all proud of what has been achieved and moved by what we have witnessed.”
The team also went below 23,000 feet to look for another ship, an aircraft carrier, named Gambier Bay, but could not find it. They did not search for the other destroyer, the USS Hoel, due to lack of data.
Still, the Sammy B. might not be the deepest wreck for a long time. The group believes its new deep-seeking side-scan sonar is the deepest sonar ever operated on a submersible, typically going down to 6,000 meters, but this one has been tested down to 11,000 meters, or the full depth of the ocean.
The Caladan Oceanic team plans to take it to the bottom next month.