Theodore's World: Wreckage of World War II Submarine Found Off Aleutian Islands

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August 25, 2007

Wreckage of World War II Submarine Found Off Aleutian Islands


Wreckage of World War II Submarine Found Off Aleutian Islands
Fox News


The mangled remains of a vessel found in the Bering Sea are likely those of a World War II submarine that disappeared with a crew of 70 off the Aleutian Island of Kiska.

The discovery of the USS Grunion on Wednesday night culminates a five-year search led by the sons of its commander, Mannert Abele, and may finally shine a light on the mysterious last moments of the doomed vessel.

"Obviously, this is a very big thing," the oldest son, Bruce Abele, said Thursday from his home in Newton, Mass. "I told my wife about it when she was still in bed and she practically went up to the ceiling."

A remotely operated vehicle snapped pictures and captured three hours of video footage of the Grunion on a rocky underwater slope north of the volcanic island, according to another brother, John Abele, who was in Kiska Harbor with the search team on Thursday.

The submarine lies 1,000 feet below the surface and had been crushed by water pressure, said Abele. He is director and co-founder of the medical equipment company Boston Scientific Corp. and the youngest of the three brothers.

The most surprising thing was the damage," he said. "It was much more than we or anyone else imagined. Initially it was very hard to recognize as a ship."

The hull had imploded so severely that the interior, including bunks and a dive wheel, were clearly visible, Abele said. No human remains were found.

"There's a 95 percent chance that this is the Grunion and a less than five percent chance that it's not," said Christopher J. Nicholson, general manager of the Cataumet, Mass.-based company. "The fact that they actually found this in an expanse of ocean is really pretty spectacular."

The Grunion had a propeller guard, which was rare in subs of the day, Abele said. The vessel discovered yesterday also had the fence, which prevented docking lines from getting caught in the propeller.

The Grunion patrolled Alaska's Aleutian Islands during the early months of World War II. Her last official radio message to the submarine base at Dutch Harbor came on July 30, 1942 and described heavy enemy activity at the Japanese seaplane base at Kiska Harbor.

Earlier that month, the Grunion had sunk two Japanese submarine chasers and heavily damaged a third near Kiska, one of two islands in the far west Aleutians captured by the Japanese. Until a few years ago, the clues to the Grunion's disappearance were too fragmented to justify a search.

As news of the search spread, several relatives of the Grunion's crew banded together to locate others with ties to the lost men. To date, the relatives of 69 men are following the progress of the search, said Mary Bentz of Bethesda, Md., whose uncle died on the Grunion.

Bentz said the news is a relief after decades of not knowing what happened. Her father's youngest brother, Carmine Anthony Parziale, of Weedville, Penn., was in his early 20s when he served as a torpedoman third class on Grunion.

"I know when my dad would talk about him, his eyes would well up with tears," said Bentz. "I was relieved to know that this is finally over, that now we can say, two and three generations later, that we know what happened."

A forensic engineer and other experts will use the footage to piece together the Grunion's final hours and figure out why it sank. The search crew of 17 plans to spend several more days looking for sunken Japanese ships in the area.

"Actually seeing the burial site was touching and in a way rewarding," John Abele said. "It provides a closing and hopefully an answer to the unknown."

This is from the US Navy History page on the Grunion


Grunion was launched by the Electric Boat Co., Groton, Conn., 22 December 1941; sponsored by Mrs. Stanford C. Hooper, wife of Rear Admiral Hooper; and commissioned 11 April 1942, Lt. Comdr. M. L. Abele in command.

After shakedown out of New London, Grunion sailed for the Pacific 24 May. A week later, as she transited the Caribbean for Panama, she rescued 16 survivors of USAT Jack, torpedoed by a German U-boat, and conducted a fruitless search for 13 other survivors presumed in the vicinity. Arriving at Coco Solo 3 June, Grunion deposited her shipload of survivors and continued to Pearl Harbor, arriving 20 June.

Departing Hawaii 30 June after 10 days of intensive training, Grunion touched Midway; then headed toward the Aleutians for her first war patrol. Her first report, made as she patrolled north of Kiska Island, stated she had been attacked by a Japanese destroyer and had fired at him with inconclusive results. She operated off Kiska throughout July and sank two enemy patrol boats while in search for enemy shipping. On 30 July the submarine reported intensive antisubmarine activity; and she was ordered back to Dutch Harbor.

Grunion was never heard from nor seen again. Air searches off Kiska were fruitless; and on 5 October Grunion was reluctantly reported overdue from patrol and assumed lost with all hands. Captured Japanese records show no antisubmarine attacks in the Kiska area, and the fate of Grunion remains a mystery. Her name was struck from the Navy List 2 November 1942.

Grunion received one battle star for World War II service.

....Thank you Jack of Conservative Insurgent for the llink.

Wild Thing's comment........

This is amazing, I am so glad there is a group that searches for our ships and Submarines like this. These are a part of our history and also for the families of the lives that served on the Submarine.

Posted by Wild Thing at August 25, 2007 12:55 AM


Happy for the family members. Almost as exciting a discovery as the Civil War's CSS Hunley finding! Funny isn't it that in WW II our greatest generation used depth charges to SINK German U boats and Jap subs, and today our own citizens are giving comfort and aid to the islamofascist terrorists!

Posted by: darthcrUSAderworldtour07 at August 25, 2007 06:31 AM

Now this is exciting!
I love reading about history.
Now if only the textbooks can get it right.

Posted by: Lynn at August 25, 2007 08:31 AM

Amazing what our technology is accomplishing. The Titanic was found, the Bismark was found, the Yorktown was found near Midway in very deep water and now the USS Grunion in the very volatile Bering Sea. It is so great to find these graveyards of ships and answer questions that are decades old. And to soothe the feelings of relatives.

Posted by: TomR at August 25, 2007 10:39 AM

This is an incredible find....our oceans are so vast and to find something like this is close to a miracle in my mind!

Posted by: Merri at August 25, 2007 12:22 PM

Interesting. An open hatch. An eerie sentinal screaming a cryptic message about it's demise. Makes you wonder what the reason for that is. An attempted escape from a doomed submarine? A hatch not properly dogged down in a crash dive only to blow open as the sub imploded? Was the crew taken prisoner (or worse) before the ship was scuttled? It will be interesting to see if there is a follow up on this story that determines what events led up to the sinking. It's amazing the sub was even found.

Posted by: Billy at August 25, 2007 03:06 PM

This is very exciting news, and especially for all the families involved. I hope there is more information to follow for their peace of mind. I am a lover of our military history and this is another one of our great finds.

Charmaine Ashley

Posted by: Charmaine Ashley at August 25, 2007 08:24 PM

Darth it sure is. I will never ever forgive anyone that does not support our troops, and those that have aided the enemy in their comments like our politicians and media and the anti-war jerks have done.

Posted by: Wild Thing at August 25, 2007 11:40 PM

Lynn, me too, it is so interesting.

I agree with you Lynn, I hope they don't keep changing the various things in our history like they have been doing.

Posted by: Wild Thing at August 25, 2007 11:42 PM

Tom, I agree it is so amazing to me how they can do these things and find these ships like this.

Posted by: Wild Thing at August 25, 2007 11:47 PM

Hi Merri, it really is, your right, it is a miracle.

Posted by: Wild Thing at August 25, 2007 11:56 PM

Billy, I was wondering about the Hatch. Did it open from pressure from below, or were they trying to save their many stories in my mind..... thank God they found it.

Posted by: Wild Thing at August 25, 2007 11:59 PM

HI Charmaine, nice to meet you. I agree I am so glad for the families involved. I would think they will keep giving information as they can to the families.

Posted by: Wild Thing at August 26, 2007 12:00 AM

Awesome!! I agree, WT - it's great that they are finding these parts of our history.

Posted by: yankeemom at August 26, 2007 10:20 AM

Hi Yankeemom good to see you. Thank you.

Posted by: Wild Thing at August 26, 2007 10:58 PM

my wife is the last surviver of the family of one of the men of the uss grunion. and we want to thank the abele family and the workers who found the sub.and thank you guys.

yours truly fred s kendrick sr

Posted by: fred s kendrick sr at August 28, 2007 04:02 PM

fred s kendrick sr

I want to thank you for commenting and coming here and telling us. Please tell your wife how much the men that served on the USS Grunion have meant to all of us.

Posted by: Wild Thing at August 30, 2007 12:51 AM