Navy to Study Wreckage of WWI Ship that Sank Near LI
Just weeks after the 99th anniversary of the sinking of the World War I USS San Diego, the Navy has announced that it will survey the wreckage
Just weeks after the 99th anniversary of the sinking of the World War I USS San Diego, the Navy has announced that it will survey the wreckage. The study, which is scheduled for Sept. 11-15, is timed to enable researchers to conduct an exhaustive examination of the site and prepare to release their findings on time for the 100th anniversary of the U.S.'s entry into WWI.
The 15,000-ton armored cruiser lies only a few miles south of Long Island, southeast of Fire Island, N.Y., 110 feet below the surface. On July 19, 1918, leaving from Portsmouth, N.H. heading for New York, USS San Diego is thought to have been sunk by a torpedo fired by the German submarine, U-156. The US ship sank in 28 minutes leading to the loss of six lives. It was the only major warship lost by the United States in WWI.
The 503-foot-long cruiser's guns and distinguishing features are largely intact, due to its armored exterior. It is one of the most popular sites for recreational divers on Long Island, despite being upside down. The site is a protected area, under the Sunken Military Craft Act of 2004. Especially since it is an underwater war grave, unauthorized salvaging of artifacts or disturbance is illegal.
As reported by the NY Times, underwater robotics and sensors along with an autonomous underwater vehicle will be used to explore the battle damage to the ship to determine what type of weapon caused the explosion at 11:05 a.m. The San Diego was zigzagging at 15 knots through submarine-infested waters, on its way to escort a convoy from France. The explosion on the port side warped the bulkhead, severely damaged both engines and crippled radio communication, preventing a distress call. Under the direction of Capt. Harley H. Christy, nearly 1,200 survivors abandoned the ship, entering lifeboats and were seen two hours later by a gunnery officer, who called for rescue ships.
The survey led by the Naval History and Heritage Command will be performed in collaboration with the University of Delaware's College of Earth, Ocean and Environment, the Naval Surface Warfare Center, the office of Naval Intelligence, and the Fire Island station of the U.S. Coast Guard.
“Although ships and weapons are much different now than they were 100 years ago, studying the wreck may still teach us something we didn't know about anti-submarine warfare,” said Paul Taylor, the head of the communications at the Naval History and Heritage Command. “This information may prove useful to
modern ship designers, naval tactician, and people who develop shipboard damage control techniques.” “It's an added bonus that solving this mystery more fully accounts for the ship's story, which is a way for us to honor the service and sacrifice of six American sailors who lost their lives in defense of the nation,” said Mr. Taylor.
Additionally, the research will decide if the wreckage presents any enduring environmental hazard or dangers to marine life or navigation from leaking fuel, live weaponries or the likes.
The 15,000-ton armored cruiser lies only a few miles south of
Long Island, southeast of Fire Island, N.Y., 110 feet below the surface. On July 19, 1918, leaving from Portsmouth, N.H. heading for New York, USS San Diego is thought to have been sunk by a torpedo fired by the German submarine, U-156.