World War II submarine missing for 75 years found off Okinawa, Japan

OKINAWA, Japan — It’s been 75 years since the USS Grayback went missing with 80 sailors aboard. Now, an organization that searches for sunken World War II submarines has solved the mystery of where it went down.

On Sunday, Nov. 10 undersea explorer Tim Taylor and his team at the Lost 52 Project announced that they had located the long-lost submarine on June 5 about 1,427 feet underwater off Okinawa, Japan.

In 2018, researcher Yutaka Iwasaki found that the Navy had originally made an error in translating the Japanese war records that detailed where the Grayback had likely sunk. All this time, the Navy’s historical records had listed an incorrect longitude for the submarine’s location.

Armed with that information, as well as newly discovered and translated Japanese mission logs, Taylor told CNN that his team set out on an expedition to search for the Grayback, this time searching in the area southwest of Okinawa.

With the help of autonomous underwater vehicles, remotely operated vehicles, and advanced imaging technology, the team discovered the Grayback about 100 miles from the area where it was originally thought to have gone down.

The discovery was officially confirmed by the Navy, Robert S. Neyland, the head of the Naval History and Heritage Command’s Underwater Archaeology Branch, said in a news release.

The Grayback went missing in 1944

On Jan. 28, 1944, the Grayback set sail from Pearl Harbor for the East China Sea for its 10th combat patrol.

About a month later, the submarine reported sinking two Japanese cargo ships on Feb. 19. But the attack left the Grayback with only two torpedoes, and it was ordered home from patrol.

Though the Grayback was scheduled to arrive in Midway on March 7, more than three weeks passed without sight of the submarine, and on March 30, 1944, the Grayback, one of the most successful submarines of World War II, was reported lost.

Families will finally get closure

Gloria Hurney, whose uncle Raymond Parks died on the Grayback, said that she wasn’t sure that the Grayback would ever be recovered.

So when she first learned of the discovery, she felt a mixture of shock, disbelief, sadness and grief. Eventually, though, those feelings turned into relief, comfort and peace.

“The discovery brings closure to the questions that surrounded the Grayback as far as its sinking and location,” Hurney said in a statement to CNN. “I believe it will allow healing as relatives of crew members come together to share their stories.”

The Navy echoed that sentiment.

“Each discovery of a sunken craft is an opportunity to remember and honor the service of our Sailors,” Neyland said in a statement. “Knowing their final resting place brings closure, in some part, to their families and shipmates as well as enables our team to better understand the circumstances in which the boat was lost.”

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