Stunning New Images Of Long-Lost World War II Submarine Found In Alaska


Tom Hale

Senior Journalist

clockAug 7 2019, 15:55 UTC

USS Grunion (SS-216) on March 20, 1942. US NAVY/Public Domain

Deep in the frosty waters of Alaska, explorers have captured stunning images of a US submarine that seemingly vanished in the heat of World War Two.

The bow of the USS Grunion submarine was recently identified by a team from the Lost 52 Project at a depth of around 820 meters (2,700 feet) in the waters near the Aleutian Islands, a curved band of remote volcanic islands that run between Alaska and Russia in the Pacific Ocean. The recent rediscovery was made using a gang of autonomous underwater vehicles that were able to capture advanced photogrammetry images of the submarine, showing its sunken glory in stunning three-dimensional detail. 


“This goes so far past video or still imagery, it truly is the future of recording historical underwater discoveries. Spending minimal time on site collecting a comprehensive 3D historical baseline model allows archaeologists and historians to spend months back home performing detailed research," Tim Taylor, an ocean explorer who coordinates his discoveries with the Naval History and Heritage Command, said in a statement.

USS Grunion Stern Section. PRNewsfoto/Lost 52 Project

The Aleutian islands of Attu and Kiska were occupied by a small force of Japanese troops from June 1942 to mid-August 1943. During this brief window of time, the USS Grunion was sunk off of Kiska, although it remains unclear how exactly this situation arose. On July 30, 1942, the sub reported intensive antisubmarine activity and was instructed to make its way back to base in Dutch Harbor. However, the vessel and her 70 sailors were never heard from again. 

The location of the lost vessel was an unsolved mystery for more than 60 years. A breakthrough emerged in 2002 when the sons of USS Grunion's commanding officer, Mannert Lincoln Abele, stumbled across old records on the Internet and “information supplied by a remarkable Japanese gentleman, Yutaka Iwasaki.” Years of searching went by with little luck, until August 2007 when the US Navy finally discovered the wreckage, not far from three Japanese wrecks. 

PRNewsfoto/Lost 52 Project

"This discovery has come about through a stream of seemingly improbable events; it's like we won the lottery 10 times in a row,” Bruce Abele, eldest son of the Grunion's commanding officer, said in 2008. “Not only is this announcement important for the families of the crew members, it's also important for the Navy and the country."

According to the Lost 52 Project, the new images of the vessel are hoped to provide “a vital missing part of the puzzle” and help answer some of the questions raised during the expeditions undertaken for years by the captain’s sons. You can see more of the 3D imagery in the video below. 

  • tag
  • military,

  • submarine,

  • Alaska,

  • Japan,

  • war,

  • navy,

  • World War Two,

  • marine archaeology