Lost for 79 years, USS Albacore's wreck has finally been discovered

Mysteriously sunk in November 1944, the USS Albacore, one of the Second World War's most successful U.S. submarines, has, until now, been lost to the depths.
Christopher McFadden
Image of what is presumed to be the USS Albacore.

United States Navy 

According to a press release from the United States Navy, the long-lost submarine, the USS Albacore, was found after almost 80 years. Lost at sea on November 7, 1944, with all hands, her whereabouts have, until now, been a mystery.

However, Dr. Tamaki Ura from the University of Tokyo has recently released data and images from the NHHC's Underwater Archaeological Bureau (UAB) that show what appears to be the final resting place of the WWII-era submarine.

“As the final resting place for sailors who gave their [lives] in defense of our nation, we sincerely thank and congratulate Dr. Ura and his team for their efforts in locating the wreck of Albacore,” said NHHC Director Samuel J. Cox, U.S. Navy rear admiral (retired). “It is through their hard work and continued collaboration that we could confirm Albacore’s identity after being lost at sea for over 70 years,” he added.

Dr. Ura's efforts were directed by Japanese records from the Japan Center for Asian Historical Archives (JACAR) about the sinking of an American submarine in 1944. The position described in the documents was the same as what UAB volunteers were doing at the time to find the shipwreck site.

Dr. Ura's team used a remotely controlled vehicle to gather information to check the historical data. The site's turbulent currents, marine growth, and limited visibility made it difficult to document the wreck or take detailed pictures.

Nevertheless, the footage revealed several distinctive characteristics of a late 1944 Gato-class submarine.

Albacore was found to be the wreck site because there were signs that she had been changed, such as an SJ Radar dish and mast, a line of vent holes along the top of the superstructure, and the absence of steel plates along the top edge of the fairwater.

The Albacore is a sunken military vessel of the United States that is protected by American law and is governed by the NHHC. Remote sensing documentation and other non-intrusive activities can be done on sunk U.S. Navy ships. Still, any actions that could be invasive must be coordinated with NHHC and, if needed, allowed through a relevant permitting mechanism.

The wreck is, most critically, the ultimate resting place of sailors who gave their lives in the country's service, and it should be revered as a war grave by all parties.

The Albacore was built by the Groton, Connecticut-based Electric Boat Company and was put into service on June 1, 1942. She went on 11 combat patrols and is known to have sunk 10 enemy ships before being lost in 1944 while doing mining work. It is possible that she sank three more ships, but this has not been confirmed yet. Albacore received four Presidential Unit Citations and nine combat stars throughout her career.

She was one of the most effective submarines against enemy combatants during World War II since six out of ten enemy sinkings were enemy combatant ships.

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