WWII US Submarine Discovered in South China Sea

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The USS Harder, a celebrated World War II American submarine, has been discovered resting on the sea floor of the South China Sea. This find was made by the Lost 52 Project, which is dedicated to locating and commemorating the 52 US submarines lost during the conflict.

Utilizing sophisticated underwater drones along with photogrammetry techniques, the project successfully pinpointed the submarine, revealing it almost completely intact despite some damage to its conning tower. The discovery was made over 3,000 feet under the water’s surface.

The US Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) confirmed the identification of the submarine, praising the quality and preservation of the wreck, as well as the detailed data gathered by Lost 52. This project is led by Tim Taylor and Christine Dennison, who are both deep-sea exploration entrepreneurs. Their efforts involved the employment of high-end photogrammetry and robotics to capture remarkable visuals of the submarine, which was tragically lost off the Philippines coast in 1944 due to Japanese depth charges.

The USS Harder, known for its aggressive combat strategy under the motto “Hit ’em Harder”, met its fate on August 24, 1944, with 79 crew members onboard, including the renowned Commander Samuel Dealey. Over its service, the submarine was notorious for its daring assaults, sinking numerous enemy vessels in the process.

The discovery of the USS Harder, according to NHHC Director and retired Rear-Admiral Samuel J. Cox, is a poignant reminder of the submarine’s impactful role during its final patrol operations in the northern Philippines. Despite successfully executing aggressive maneuvers against Japanese destroyers, the Harder was overcome following a counterattack.

This find adds to Lost 52’s history of significant undersea discoveries, further demonstrated by their policy of confidentiality regarding ongoing expeditions, in deference to the families of those lost at sea.

The revelation of the Harder’s location not only underscores the advancements in underwater exploration technologies, as exemplified by Taylor’s Tiburon Subsea and its focus on seabed data collection, but also highlights the growing economic potential of these undersea endeavors. Taylor suggests such projects, supported by underwater photogrammetry, are vital to understanding and leveraging the vast resources of our oceans, projected to burgeon into a multi-trillion industry in the near future.


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