Explorers find long-lost USS Grayback submarine after 75-year mystery

Daily News Article   —   Posted on November 13, 2019

The USS Grayback was carrying 80 U.S. sailors when it sank in the waters south of Okinawa in February 1944. The ship is credited with sinking 14 enemy ships before it was torpedoed [by the Japanese].

Private explorers Tim Taylor and Christine Dennison found the Grayback in June and made the announcement Monday, on Veterans Day. The search ended when they spotted an anomaly on the ocean floor five months ago and high-definition cameras subsequently confirmed the vessel’s identity when they captured a gold plaque with the words USS Grayback.

“It was amazing. Everyone was excited,” Taylor told The Washington Post. “Then you realize there are 80 men buried there, and it’s a sobering experience.”

Following the discovery in June, Taylor and Dennison spent months searching for relatives of its crew who perished. The husband and wife duo said they are trying to find all 52 submarines that have sunk [during WWII] and were never found, as part of the Lost 52 Project. They said they’ve found five submarines so far.

“We do not tell people that we’re looking for these because we don’t want to disappoint people, and we don’t want to blast it across the Internet until its done properly through the Navy,” Taylor told ABC News. “With the technology that we’re using, and the ability to cover large swaths of ground, we’re looking at the potential to find several more.”

Part of the reason the submarine was lost for so many years, officials say, was because Japanese records on the sinking were not translated correctly. Researchers eventually found one digit was off, which had sent explorers 100 miles in the wrong direction.

“The numbers that came out were wrong, and that’s how we found it,” Taylor said. “It was mistranslated after post-WWII, and they changed one number — an 8 to a 6 — and our Japanese translator re-translated it, found it, put us 100 miles to a different area.”

USS Grayback torpedoed in 1944, found in 2019.

Dennison said the most important part of their work is about bringing closure to the families of those who died.

“It’s very vital that we remember them [the sailors], and that they feel that they haven’t been forgotten, that their sacrifice wasn’t in vain,” Dennison said. “We are grateful for their sacrifices, and we will never forget our veterans. The most important thing is, they’re here, now they can be celebrated again, they can be honored again, and we know where they are.”

[Taylor added, “The confirmation of the site as a US Navy sunken military craft ensures it is protected from disturbance, safeguarding the final resting place of our sailors.”].

Compiled from articles published on Nov. 11 at UPI .com by Nick Sakelaris and on Nov. 10 at ABCNews by Karma Allen, Tom Llamas and Ed Wiese. Reprinted here for educational purposes only. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission.


The U.S.S. Grayback:

  • In June 2019 the U.S.S. Grayback SS-208, a submarine used in WWII off the coast of Japan, was found after it went missing 75 years ago
  • The Tambor-class diesel-electric submarine was 307ft long and weighted 1,475 tons
  • The Grayback's first World War II patrol was on February 15 to April 10 in 1942
  • She disappeared after her 10th patrol
  • She sailed from Pearl Harbor on January 28, 1944 to patrol the East China Sea
  • On February 24, 1944 the Grayback radioed that it sunk two enemy cargo ships on the 19th and damaged two others
  • On February 25, 1944 the Grayback transmitted her final report saying it sunk one Japanese tanker and severely damaged another. It was ordered to return home from patrol
  • It did not return to the Midway naval base by March 7 and was listed as missing and presumed lost with all hands on March 30
  • The Grayback went down with 80 U.S. servicemen on board
  • The Grayback is ranked as the 20th most successful sub in WWII that sank 14 enemy ships

(from the UK Daily Mail)