Current News – USS WASP – WWII Wreck Located

A port bow view of the ship shows her aflame and listing to starboard, 15 September 1942. Men on the flight deck desperately battle the spreading inferno. (U.S. Navy Photograph 80-G-16331, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)

The discovery of sunken wrecks seems to hold an eternal fascination. Although the quest to find them takes a huge amount of resources and technical skills, the quest goes on. Many searches have focused on the wrecks of warships lost during the Second World War. One of the most recent successes, despite many difficulties, was the discovery of USS Wasp (CV-7) deep in the Pacific Ocean.

The story of Wasp‘s end begins in September 1942. The aircraft carrier set out with 71 planes and a crew of more than 2,000 men on board to escort a convoy of US Marines to Guadalcanal, one of the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific. In the middle of the afternoon, Wasp was hit by Japanese torpedoes which caused serious damage.

The worst part was that the torpedoes had hit the magazine, setting off a series of explosions. The fire quickly spread, and the ship was also taking on water from the torpedo damage. Soon it began to tilt, and oil and gasoline that had spilled were set ablaze on the water. Captain Sherman had no choice but to give the order to abandon ship.

Wildcats & Spitfires on the USS Wasp, 7 April 1942

Those who were most seriously injured were lowered into life rafts. Those who could not find a place in a life raft had no choice but to jump into the sea. There they held on to whatever debris they could to keep them afloat until they were rescued.

Captain Sherman commented later that the evacuation of the ship was remarkably orderly under the circumstances. He also noted that sailors had delayed their own escapes to ensure that their injured comrades were taken off the ship first.

The first torpedoes had been spotted at 2:44 PM. By 4 PM, once he was sure that all the survivors had been removed, Captain Sherman himself abandoned ship. In that short time, Wasp had been destroyed along with many of the aircraft it was carrying, and 193 men died.

Despite the danger involved, the destroyers which had accompanied Wasp carried out a remarkable rescue operation and managed to bring 1,469 survivors to safety.

The ship drifted on for four hours until orders were given that it should be scuttled. The destroyer USS Lansdowne came to the scene, and another volley of torpedoes eventually sank the ship into the depths of the Pacific Ocean.

The discovery of the wreck was largely due to the philanthropy of the late Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft. Allen had a lifelong enthusiasm for underwater exploration and a fascination with WWII wrecks. He provided the substantial sums required to fit out the Petrel exploration ship through his undersea exploration organization.

View of 5 inch gun from online room. Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Inc.

The quest to find Wasp looked likely to be one of their more difficult tasks. The wreck lay 2.5 miles down in an area known as an abyssal plane. There is no light and little animal life as well as massive pressure, making it one of the most inhospitable and inaccessible areas of the ocean.

Kraft and his team recalculated the possible location based on the distance between Wasp and the other two ships at the time of the torpedo attack. They realized that they needed to look much further south. It seemed that the navigator on Wasp had provided the most accurate location information after all.

Bridge of the USS Wasp

The crew once again sent out drones to scan the area and on January 14, 12 days after their mission began, they located the wreck. Despite the massive damage, Wasp could be seen clearly in the underwater photographs, sitting upright on the seabed and surrounded by helmets and other debris that served as reminders of its dramatic history and tragic end.

The exact location of the wreck remains a closely guarded secret to avoid the risk of scavengers looking for valuable relics from the ship. There are no plans to attempt to raise the wreck, but its discovery has brought satisfaction to the few remaining Wasp survivors and their families.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Chauncy Adams (101) – NZ; RNZ Army, WWII, 25th Wellington Battalion/3rd Echelon

James Baker – Farmersville, TX; US Army, WWII,PTO, Infantry, Chaplain (Ret. 20 y.)

Joseph Collette – Lancaster, OH; US Army, Afghanistan, 242 Ordnance/71st Explosive Ordnance Group, KIA

John Goodman – Birmingham, AL; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Willie Hartley – NC; US Army, Vietnam, 82nd Airborne Division

Richard Kasper – Brunswick, GA; US Army, WWII, PTO, Bronze Star

Will Lindsay – Cortez, CO; US Army, Afghanistan, Sgt., 2/10th Special Forces (Airborne), KIA

Stanley Mikuta – Cannonsburg, PA; WWII, PTO, Co. E/152nd Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Leonard Nitschke – Ashley, ND; US Army, Korea, Co. G/21/24th Infantry Division

Charles Whatmough – Pawtucket, RI; US Navy. WWII, PTO, Troop Transport cook

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on March 25, 2019, in Current News, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 99 Comments.

  1. Like reading about the discovery of these Ships, every one of them has a story and each discovery brings more information to light. USS Wasp no exception.
    Cheers.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Exactly. I was just reading about the SS “Iron Crown” being located in Australian waters off Victoria by the RV “Investigator”. I didn’t recall reading about it before, sunk by a Japanese sub and only 5 survivors! Whoa!

      Like

  2. The Hudson Motor Car Company paid a tribute to the Wasp and Hornet by naming its car models after the carriers in the early 1950s.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Not sure if I’ve asked if you’ve written on the USS Hinsdale It was hit by air at Okinawa and almost sunk if they hadn’t been transporting marines there they would have. All the extra marines onboard kept It afloat by gathering on opposite side of boat that had huge hole in its side. My husbands uncle was onboard. I’m working on a story on it

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Door de vooruitgang en meer nauwkeurige apparaten ,kunnen nu dingen gevonden en opgespoord worden die vroeger onmogelijk waren.Dat is voor sommige opsporingen erg positief

    Liked by 2 people

  5. You have So Many Likes on your posts! You write about such things that are important to know. Thank you!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Saw this on the News GP. The Hornet has also been found.
    A watery grave of many brave men.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Wonderful find, I guess it feels like when a body is found and comes home, something precious.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Thank you for another great piece of information, GP! Without you i never would get all this very interesting, and for understandiong much more other things very useful information. Best wishes, Michael

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Wonderful news, GP. Thank you for this post!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Thanks for sharing this piece of history

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Slightly off topic…

    15 March 1953, The USS Wisconsin (BB-64) received her first direct hit in her history when four shells from a North Korean 152mm gun battery struck the shield of her starboard 40mm mount. Subsequently, the Wisconsin destroyed the battery with a full salvo from her 16 inch guns before continuing her mission. After destroying the artillery battery, the Wisconsin received the following message from one of her escorts, the USS Buck (DD-761,) which simply read; “Temper, temper.”

    Liked by 3 people

  12. I wonder how deep it is? Must be dive-able, if they have to keep the location secret.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Even though his parents and siblings had passed away, it brought closure to our family when my uncle’s WII sub was discovered.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Like some others, I read the news of the Wasp’s discovery, but there was little more than a few lines about it. It was good to read the details of her loss, and of the bravery of the men on board. Obviously, the losses could have been far greater.

    You’re right that the search for these lost wrecks compels the imagination. When I lived in south Texas, near Matagorda bay, I knew farmers who had turned up Spanish anchors while plowing their fields. Eventually, one of ships belonging to the explorer LaSalle was discovered and a good bit of the ship and cargo was recovered from the bay. It’s a different sort of story, but they’re both great reminders of how much tangible history we still can see revealed.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. The number of Japanese and American ships found by Paul Allen’s company is impressive. Not often can a person’s legacy include giving families closure and making some major historical contributions.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. There seems to have been.a plethora of ‘finds’ recently, and as , I guess, technology improves, more and more of these wrecks will be found. Let’s hope they are all treated with due respect.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Via CBS news
    [video src="https://public.vilynx.com/direct/8fc31712de713e0c34c55c4bce033614/0c459eff-aa2b-4362-9d66-af58a704f021/pro69.viwindow.mp4" /]

    Liked by 2 people

  18. That ship had just been commissioned in 1940. I’m still amazed that not one aircraft carrier was at Pearl Harbor when it was attacked.

    Liked by 3 people

  19. I am pleased that they are keeping the wreck’s location a secret, and leaving it in relative peace.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 3 people

    • You bet! I always look for a comment such as that when I read one of these articles. Way too many wrecks have been looted in the west Pacific!!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Protected (for now) by anonymity and The Deep.
      Sadly both will be overcome by technology; and as with other wrecks (HM Ships Prince Of Wales, Repulse, Exeter et al) should be better protected against inevitable scavengers and vultures with lethal booby-traps. (Exeter is gone now, just a ship-shaped dent in the seabed; P of W and Repulse are being stripped.)

      Liked by 2 people

  20. Modern technology certainly helped in finding this sunken ship. Have to say I was amazed at how many men must have been on that ship. Saving as many as they did was remarkable.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Modern tech. can do so much these days, I’ve quit trying to keep up! But I’m sure glad someone like Paul Allen knows how to do good with it. Thanks for dropping in, Bev.

      Like

  21. Thank you, GP. This was a fascinating story.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. My daughter served on the current USS Wasp. I had no idea this was its history.

    Liked by 4 people

  23. Thanks for the article. I’d seen they found it, but it wasn’t much more that a blurb. thanks for adding some additional info to that.

    Liked by 3 people

  24. Interesting post (as always). The second cartoon reminds me of my brief career in the catering business.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Hero’s of war. Selfless acts of heroism.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Excellent story, GP. My father served on the flag staff of the USS Wasp (CV-18) in the late 1960s, out of Quonset Point, RI. I think that one of her deployments involved serving as one of the many naval vessels involved in possible rescue of one of the Apollo missions. Navy ships used to be stationed around the world along the flight path so that if the astronauts came down, they were more likely to safely rescued. (I may be wrong about this, but it’s what I remember as a child.)

    Liked by 3 people

  27. Thanks to Paul Allen’s generosity, we are seeing more of these shipwrecks. Hope the news renew the public interest of how these young men fought and sacrificed their lives for us all.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. Your right:the discovery of sunken wrecks is fascinating. Thankyou for mentioning the remaining WASP survivors – a nice touch.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. It is remarkable that so many survived and heartening to read of the orderly and heroic behavior while abandoning ship.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. God, bless them. Fair winds and following seas.

    Liked by 2 people

  31. What a fascinating story. I enjoyed reading this, GP and I loved the comics! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  32. Bless them. I’m sure there are many like myself who have never confronted my life or yours, feel shame in the fear of not rising to the occasion.

    Liked by 3 people

  33. I read with interest the New York Times article about finding the Wasp, it appeared March 17th. Here you give new details from that day. Thank You.

    Liked by 2 people

  34. Thank you for sharing this.

    Like

  35. Thank you for sharing.

    Like

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