The US Navy has confirmed the identity of a wreck site located in Japanese waters as the World War II destroyer USS Mannert L. Abele.
According to Naval History and Heritage Command, the ship was the first US warship sunk by a Japanese Suicide Rocket Bomb on April 12th, 1945.
NHHC’s Underwater Archaeology Branch used information provided by Tim Taylor, an ocean explorer and CEO of Tiburon Subsea, and Taylor’s “Lost 52 Project” team to confirm the destroyer’s identity.
According to Taylor, the discovery was a personal one, as his father served in the Navy as part of the lead invasion force in the battle of Okinawa and he witnessed the Kamikaze firsthand when one plowed into his ship, the USS Telfair:
“My father came close to the same fate of the crew of the Abele just days earlier. This was a very emotive discovery for me. Connecting me to my father.”
NHHC Director and retired US Navy Rear Admiral Samuel Cox said:
“Mannert L. Abele is the final resting place for 84 American Sailors who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of their country. My deepest thanks and congratulations to Tim Taylor and his team for discovering this wreck site. Its discovery allows some closure to the families of those lost, and provides us all another opportunity to remember and honor them.”
On April 12th, 1945, the Abele was operating 75 miles/121km off the northern coast of Okinawa, when enemy aircraft appeared on radar. The destroyer engaged with and damaged multiple enemy aircraft, until eventually an aircraft managed to crash abreast of the after fireroom on the starboard side, penetrating the after-engine room. A minute later, the ship was hit at the waterline by a Yokosuka MXY-7 Ohka (“Cherry Blossom”) rocket-powered human-guided bomb, and the resulting explosion caused the ship’s bow and stern to buckle rapidly.
The Abele was the first of three radar picket ships hit and the first US Navy vessel sunk by the human-guided kamikaze bomb.
Check out a video of Taylor’s discovery below.