See shipwreck found after 75 years

Project Recover has found the stern of the USS Abner Read, which sunk near Alaska in 1943 during World War II.

Posted: Aug 17, 2018 5:53 PM
Updated: Aug 17, 2018 6:24 PM

After 75 years, researchers have discovered the stern of a World War II destroyer off the coast of Alaska and presumably, the final resting place of 70 crew members who were never found after the vessel was hit by a Japanese mine.

Project Recover, a team funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, first found the remains of the USS Abner Read in July, according to a statement Wednesday on its website.

The general area has been known for years, but researchers focused on finding the stern this year. In July, sonar found a potential site and the team sent an unmanned vehicle down for a look.

The stern, 75 feet long and about 18 feet high, was encrusted with sea life but it was unmistakable. The search team also saw a gun and rudder control.

"We've entered a new age of exploration," Mark Moline, director of the School of Marine Science and Policy at the University of Delaware and co-founder of Project Recover, said this week, according to a news release. "New sensors and improved underwater robots that can bring back real-time images are driving new discoveries."

75 years ago

More than 300 men were aboard the Abner Read as it sailed near an island of the US territory of Alaska 75 years ago, hunting for Japanese submarines.

About 1:50 a.m. on August 18, 1943, a huge explosion separated the stern from the ship and more than 90 sailors went into the water. About 20 were rescued, one body was pulled from the Bering Sea, but 70 men were never found.

Daryl Weathers, a ship fitter on the Abner Read, said Wednesday he was surprised by the news they had found the World War II ship's sheared stern.

"That's the end of the world up there," he said from his home in Seal Beach, near Los Angeles.

Weathers, 94, said the crew tried to save their shipmates but oil had spilled into the cold water and it was tough to pull people out.

"They were slippery and you couldn't keep ahold of them," he said. The crew put a boat in the water and threw floatation gear for the men but the conditions prevented many from being rescued.

Hallowed ground

The stern and the remains will stay where they are. It is hallowed ground, explained Paul Taylor of the Naval History and Heritage Command.

"The Navy has a longstanding tradition that sites like these are a fit and final resting place for those who perished at sea," he said. "It's a war grave and we treat it as such."

The men are listed among the more than 72,000 Americans missing after the war, online records show.

The crew of the Abner Read was able to save the ship and it was towed back to port by the USS Bancroft, another destroyer. The Abner Read then sailed to Bremerton, Washington, where it was repaired and in two months was back in the war in the Pacific. It was sunk in November 1944 by a Japanese dive bomber.

Oil-covered men drown in frigid water

Weathers vividly recalled being on radar watch the night the explosion happened near Kiska Island, which the Japanese had just evacuated.

The Abner Read was doing figure-eights in the water, looking for submarines.

Many of the men were relaxed because the surveillance came as the Aleutian Islands Campaign, which included the only battles on North American soil during World War II, was winding down after some brutal fighting.

The ship had been in the area for two days without any concerns. The water was smooth and the moon was peeking through clouds.

Weathers said the crew at first thought they had been hit by a torpedo and were waiting for another attack.

Weathers said he was lucky to be on duty because the mine hit near where he would have been sleeping.

"I probably wouldn't have made it," he said.

He barely made it through the Abner Read's final battle, during which he was manning a gun that fired on the incoming dive bomber. They shot off a wing, but the plane kept coming, slamming into the ship just above his gun tub.

"I was hurt pretty bad," he said, adding he was knocked out for a few minutes. When he came to, everything was on fire -- including him. "I thought, I better get out of here" and started running, he said.

A comrade gave him shots of morphine and a friend supplied him with a life jacket.

Weathers spent the next seven months in a stateside hospital, then a few months on another ship until the war ended.

He said the crew used to have reunions until about six or seven years ago when health issues prevented survivors from attending. Now he thinks he is the probably the only one left.

He was surprised people were still looking for the Abner Read's stern and he was told the occasion of the incident will be marked this weekend.

Taylor said the explorers gathered a lot of data from their examinations of the stern.

It will take some time to see what the information reveals, he said.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 51612

Reported Deaths: 2760
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion12074693
Lake5650249
Elkhart361860
Allen2952134
St. Joseph214869
Hamilton1708101
Cass16459
Hendricks1466100
Johnson1345118
Porter84038
Tippecanoe7799
Vanderburgh7686
Clark71144
Madison67864
LaPorte62328
Howard60758
Bartholomew60145
Kosciusko5824
Marshall5579
Noble52028
Boone49144
LaGrange48610
Jackson4783
Delaware47552
Hancock46836
Shelby45925
Floyd41444
Monroe34828
Morgan34531
Grant32226
Dubois3096
Montgomery29820
Henry29618
Clinton2903
White27610
Dearborn26523
Warrick26129
Vigo2588
Decatur25632
Lawrence25225
Harrison21822
Greene19632
Miami1942
Jennings17912
Putnam1738
DeKalb1694
Scott1659
Wayne1586
Daviess15117
Perry14910
Steuben1382
Orange13723
Jasper1362
Ripley1347
Franklin1288
Gibson1242
Wabash1163
Carroll1142
Starke1083
Whitley1076
Fayette1067
Newton10110
Huntington942
Jefferson872
Wells821
Randolph804
Fulton731
Jay720
Knox710
Washington681
Pulaski661
Clay645
Rush623
Posey610
Spencer571
Owen521
Benton510
Sullivan501
Adams491
Brown431
Blackford402
Fountain362
Crawford330
Switzerland320
Tipton321
Parke270
Martin260
Ohio230
Vermillion200
Warren151
Union140
Pike120
Unassigned0193

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 65592

Reported Deaths: 3058
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin12035447
Cuyahoga9208399
Hamilton6950208
Lucas3007306
Marion274839
Montgomery251336
Summit2351209
Pickaway222741
Mahoning1948239
Butler186347
Columbiana138560
Stark1225116
Lorain115269
Trumbull105378
Warren100926
Clark81610
Delaware72415
Fairfield69217
Lake60923
Tuscarawas60910
Medina58932
Licking58312
Belmont57024
Miami51031
Portage50260
Clermont4977
Wood49451
Ashtabula44844
Geauga42843
Richland3786
Wayne37355
Allen36641
Greene3469
Mercer30210
Erie28622
Holmes2615
Darke25926
Huron2472
Madison2229
Ottawa19324
Sandusky16915
Athens1671
Ross1483
Washington14620
Coshocton1424
Putnam14215
Crawford1415
Hardin12312
Morrow1211
Jefferson1152
Auglaize1114
Muskingum1041
Union1021
Preble911
Clinton892
Monroe8917
Hancock861
Lawrence860
Guernsey813
Hocking819
Williams762
Shelby754
Logan711
Scioto710
Carroll703
Ashland682
Fulton670
Brown631
Wyandot635
Champaign551
Fayette550
Knox551
Defiance543
Highland531
Van Wert491
Perry461
Seneca412
Henry350
Paulding320
Jackson300
Pike290
Adams261
Vinton232
Gallia211
Harrison141
Noble140
Meigs130
Morgan110
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 80°
Angola
Few Clouds
75° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 75°
Huntington
Few Clouds
80° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 80°
Decatur
Scattered Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 79°
Van Wert
Scattered Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 79°
Dry start to the work week
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events