(CNN) – The world’s best-known shipwreck, a WWII US Navy destroyer, was fully mapped and filmed by a US-based crew.
The ship, USS Johnston, is at a depth of 21,180 feet (approximately 6,500 meters) in the Philippine Sea. Its location is known, but this is the first time that a crew has been able to map and film the entire wreckage site.
Caladan Oceanic, a private US-based company that focuses on ocean shipments, gets credit for reaching the wreck on March 31. His research vessel, the DSV Limiting Factor, was able to survey the wreckage, which was more than 100 feet deeper than before. believed, sitting in the dark more than four miles below the surface of the Pacific.
The USS Johnson, pictured here in 1943.
From the US Navy / Naval History and Heritage Command
The founder of Caladan Oceanic is Victor Vescovo, a former commander of the United States Navy who has a long-standing passion for visiting some of the world’s most difficult to reach places. He holds the record of being the first person in history to have been on top of all the continents of the world, at both poles and at the bottom of all its oceans.
With the study of the USS Johnston, Vescovo took another important step: diving into the deepest wreck in history. He was in control of the limiting factor throughout the process, which took place in two eight-hour segments over two days.
Sunk during the Battle of Samar
The USS Johnston was sunk by the Japanese Navy on October 25, 1944, during the Battle off Samar. It was one of four naval battles that included the Battle of Leyte Gulf, one of the greatest battles in the history of naval warfare and the engagement that spelled the death knell for the Japanese navy during the WWII, according to US Naval History and Heritage. Command (NHHC).
Sam Cox, director of the NHHC, said the new images of the wreck of the Johnston help the Navy shine a light on the heroism and history of its crew.
The ship was named after Lieutenant John V. Johnston, a hero of the Civil War.
The Johnston was commanded by Cmdr. Ernest Evans, a Native American from Oklahoma. Along with two other American destroyers and four escorts of smaller destroyers, Evans led the Johnston to attack a far superior Japanese force of four battleships, six heavy cruisers, two light cruisers and 11 destroyers, according to the NHHC account of the battle. .
In a first encounter, the Johnston’s fire knocked out a Japanese cruiser, but the American destroyer was badly damaged and its ammunition wasted. Evans himself was seriously injured.
Steadfast, Evans regrouped his crew and the Johnston again attacked the Japanese ships, firing fire from a nearby American aircraft carrier.
After two and a half hours of fighting, the Johnston was without power and surrounded by Japanese ships. Evans ordered the crew to abandon ship, and he turned and sank.
Researchers believe they found the wreckage of the WWII destroyer USS Johnston at a depth of 20,400 feet under the Philippine Sea.
Two of the three ships that followed the Johnston into the Japanese battle line were also sunk, said Carl Schuster, a former sea captain and instructor at the University of the Pacific in Hawaii.
“The discovery of the USS Johnston is yet another reminder of the heroism and sacrifice of that day in the Gulf of Leyte 77 years ago,” he said.
Of the Johnston’s 327-man crew, 186 died, including Evans. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the first Native American in the US Navy to receive his country’s highest military honor, according to the NHHC.
For Vescovo, being able to reach the USS Johnston was a very personal mission.
“In a way, we have come full circle,” he said in a statement. “The Johnston and our own ship were built in the same shipyard and both served in the United States Navy. As an officer of the United States Navy, I am proud to have helped clarify and close the Johnston, her crew and the families of those who have fallen there. “