It was in October 1944 that USS Johnston, a US Navy destroyer, was sunk in the South China sea after being shot by a massive lineup of Japanese warships during the Battle of Leyte Gulf. And now, after 77 years, divers have identified the wrecked USS Johnston at the bottom of the ocean, at more than 20,000 feet.
History's Deepest Wreck Dive
On 30 October 2019, it was announced that the research vessel Petrel of Vulcan Inc has discovered USS Johnston in the Philippine Trench. The wreck was in pieces with no significant hull sections located. However, experts were unclear whether the discovered wreck was USS Johnston or USS Hoel, another ship that sunk during World War II.
And now, after the deepest wreck dive in history, Caladan Oceanic founder and pilot Victor Vescovo who is also a former Navy officer has confirmed that they have found the wreckage of US Navy destroyer USS Johnston.
"Just completed the deepest wreck dive in history, to find the main wreckage of the destroyer USS Johnston. We located the front 2/3 of the ship, upright and intact, at a depth of 6456 meters [21,180 feet]. Three of us across two dives surveyed the vessel and gave respects to her brave crew," said Vescovo.
Celebrating Valor and Bravery
The diving expedition found the bow, bridge, and mid-section of the USS Johnston intact. Interestingly, the hull number of USS Johnston '557' is still visible in the wreckage.
Vescovo revealed that oxygen level at 20,000 feet is very low, and it could be one of the main reasons that played a crucial role in maintaining the wreckage intact.
Even though the United States won World War II, USS Johnston still remains a drop of tear in the nation. Out of the 327 crew members, 197 died during the war, and for his valor, Captain Ernest Evans was honored with a posthumous Medal of Honor, thus becoming the first Native American to receive this honor.
"It's been so wonderful to share the story of the USS Johnston with so many people. Her crew and Captain, Ernest Evans - the first Native American in the Navy to be awarded the Medal of Honor, were extraordinarily heroic," added Vescovo.