World War II submarine found in murky waters of Strait of Malacca

In the murky waters of the Strait of Malacca, about 90 miles (145km) south of Phuket, Thailand, four divers discovered a World War II submarine that was scuttled 77 years ago, now teeming with marine life.

The wreckage, believed to be the USS Grenadier, was found last October by divers Jean Luc Rivoire, Lance Horowitz, Benoit Laborie and Ben Reymenants, the team announced this month.

Over the subsequent six months, the men completed six dives to study and identify the submarine, Mr Horowitz, 36, said on Friday (Sept 18) from Phuket.

After measuring parts of the submarine and comparing them with technical drawings from the National Archives and Records Administration, the men felt confident that they had located the Grenadier, he said.

“It was as good as we were hoping for, really,” Mr Horowitz said of the team’s US$149,498) expedition. “It was a very powerful feeling; it was wonderful.”

The Grenadier is more than 300 feet (91m) long and weighs 1,475 tons, according to the Naval History and Heritage Command. The ship was found sitting upright more than 260 feet underwater, the divers said in a statement.

The next step is to have the findings verified by the naval history command. That will likely take a few months, according to Mr Robert Neyland, head of the command’s underwater archaeology branch.

“Confirming the identity of any potential discovery, as in the case of USS Grenadier, is a process that is given much weight by the US Navy, as it not only affords legal protections to the site through the Sunken Military Craft Act, but the act can also provide closure to the families of those sailors lost in the line of duty,” Mr Neyland said in an e-mail.

Mr Robert Palmer, a sailor aboard the Grenadier, wrote in “The Silent Service in World War II” that in the early morning of April 22, 1943, crew members fired at a Japanese plane, which dropped a bomb nearby.

All 76 men survived but were picked up by a Japanese armed merchant ship, Mr Palmer said, and tortured. Four died in Japanese captivity.

“It’s amazing how the families of survivors have reached out to us since they’ve found out it’s been discovered,” Mr Horowitz said on Friday.

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