A group of Australian divers were among the ones who helped confirm that a wreck site in the deep waters off the Philippines was that of the US Navy’s World War II aircraft carrier USS Ommaney Bay.
The US Naval History and Heritage Command this week confirmed the identity of the wreck site.
While operating in the Sulu Sea, Ommaney Bay was hit by a twin-engine Japanese suicide plane on Jan. 4, 1945.
NHHC’s Underwater Archaeology Branch used a combination of survey information provided by the Sea Scan Survey team and video footage provided by the DPT Scuba dive team, to confirm the identity of Ommaney Bay. This information correlated with location data for the wreck site provided to NHHC in 2019 by Vulcan, LLC (formerly Vulcan, Inc.), a company owned by the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.
Retired US Navy Rear Admiral and NHHC Director Samuel Cox said:
“Ommaney Bay is the final resting place of American Sailors who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of their country. It is with sincere gratitude that I thank the Sea Scan Survey team; Mick Stefurak, Neil ‘Snake’ Krumbeck and Joe Brothers for confirming the location of this wreck site. We would also like to thank the team of Australian divers from DPT Scuba; David Tipping, Chris McCran, Aimee McCran, Samir Alhafith, Heeman Lee and John Wooden for their deep diving expertise and assistance identifying the Ommaney Bay. This discovery allows the families of those lost some amount of closure and gives us all another chance to remember and honor their service to our nation.”
The Japanese kamikaze crashed into Ommaney Bay’s starboard side, releasing two bombs and causing severe damage, according to NHHC. A series of explosions were caused by one of the bombs that entered the flight deck and detonated below, among the fully gassed aircraft in the forward third of the hanger deck. The second bomb exploded close to the starboard side after rupturing the fire main on the second deck and passing through the hanger deck.
The order to abandon ship was given as the possibility of stored torpedo warheads exploding at any moment increased. A total of 95 Sailors were lost, including two sailors from an assisting destroyer who were killed when the torpedo warheads on Ommaney Bay finally went off.
Check out a video of the wreck site here.
For more info on the Ommaney Bay, go to history.navy.mil.
(Featured Image credit: US Navy/Samir Alhafith)