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A shipwreck known be the deepest ever recorded has been confirmed as that of a US Navy battleship that sank in one of World War Two's biggest naval battles.
The wreck was first discovered in 2019, but was recently confirmed as that of the USS Johnston after a manned expedition to the wreck revealed its serial number painted on the hull.
Resting on the ocean floor at 21,000 feet, nearly four miles down, the Johnston is currently the deepest known shipwreck in the world.
Its depth dwarfs that of the Titanic, which rests at a much shallower depth of 12,000ft.
The depth of the wreck had proven a challenge in identifying it, as an initial unmanned submersible could not access the parts of the ship which had its serial number on.
A mission last month led by retired naval officer Victor Vescovo located the ship’s hull number on the third dive, reports NewYorkTimes.
Speaking to the website Naval History and Heritage command, Vescovo said: “We have a strict ‘look, don't touch’ policy, but we collect a lot of material that is very useful to historians and naval archivists. I believe it is important work, which is why I fund it privately and we deliver the material to the Navy pro-bono.”
“In some ways we have come full circle,” Vescovo added. “The Johnston and our own ship were built in the same shipyard, and both served in the U.S. Navy.
“As a U.S. Navy officer, I’m proud to have helped bring clarity and closure to the Johnston, its crew, and the families of those who fell there.”
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The USS Johnston was sunk in the Battle of Leyte Gulf on October 25, 1944, during an attack on a much larger portion of the Japanese fleet in which the ship was heavily damaged.
186 of the vessel’s 327 crew were lost in the battle which also involved the enormous Japanese battleship Yamato, one of the heaviest battleships ever built.
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The battle itself is widely acknowledged as the largest naval battle of World War 2, and even the largest sea battle ever fought.
After completing the expedition, the team from Vescovo’s ocean exploration company Caladan Oceanic laid a wreath in honour of the lives lost in the battle.
- World War 2
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