Photo: U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command
SEARCHING FOR LOST SHIPS
WITH PAUL ALLEN
SHIPWRECKS IN THE
In this last installement of searching for the lost ships with Paul Alled
we will talk about the shipwrecks lying in the greatest depths of the
world. They sank to the bottom of the ocean during the Battle of Samar.
These are the American destroyers which, heavily outnumbered,
bravely faced the enemy for whom this battle was a swan song.
Turkey Shoot. The great lack of quality in
Japanese aircraft and pilots‘ training was
aparent and the Japanese aircraft were falling
of the skies in hundreds. One of the American
pilots described the combat after landing as
shooting turkeys back home in old times. The
greatest American fighter aces increased their
USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413)
photographed in the beginning of
summer 1944. It is the deepest
lying shipwreck known currently in
scores thanks to it. Cdr. David McCampbell, who
up until then was credited with two kills (out of
total 34), on June 19, 1944, during his first sortie,
shot down fine D4Y Judy dive bombers and
during the next sortie added two A6M fighters.
Lt. Alexander Vraciu, whose score stood at 12
kills at that time (out of total 19), on the same
Photo: National Archives
The Battle of Santa Cruz, during which the
aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV-8) was sunk
in October 1942, was for a long time the last
carriers encounter. While the Allies gradually
took over the strategic initiative, the Japanese
carriers were recovering from the losses.
The damaged ships needed repairs but above
all the lost aircraft had to be replenished and
new pilots trained. During the whole 1943 no
further aircraft carriers battle took place. The
Japanese Navy was saving the resources and
preparing for the so-called decisive battle.
The opportunity arrived in June 1944 when the
US carriers attacked the Mariana Islands. The
Japanese threw all they had into the counter
attack – 1st Mobile Fleet formed by total of 83
vessels, including 3 large aircraft carriers,
6 light aircraft carriers and 5 battleships.
They faced the American 5th Fleet composed
of 139 ships. The backbone of the US fleet
was formed by 7 large aircraft carriers,
8 light aircraft carriers and 7 battleships. The
American dominance was to be compensated
by deployment of further 300 Japanese aircraft
operating from the land bases.
The result of the Battle of Philippine Sea
doesn’t need a detailed description, its first day
went down in the history as a Great Mariana
Text: Miro Barič
Lt.(jg) Alexander Vraciu shows his six fingers for the aerial kills he scored on June 19, 1944.