The Wahoo was lost in October 1943 during a daring war patrol into the Sea of Japan. The Navy guessed that she must have hit a mine, and no more patrols into the Sea of Japan were made until advanced anti-mine equipment was available on US boats.
Torpedoed Japanese destroyer photographed through periscope of U.S.S. Wahoo or U.S.S. Nautilus, June 1942.
Information from Japanese sources uncovered after the war, however, showed that the Wahoo had probably been sighted, attacked, and sunk by Japanese aircraft and ships. Apparently, the Wahoo’s trail was picked up when an aircraft spotted an oil slick being left by the sub. Some speculate that the Wahoo may have been the victim of her own torpedoes–the then-new Mark 18 electric torpedos which sometimes had made circular runs to strike their firing ship. The Mark 18s were the replacements for the failure-prone Mark 14s which first ran too deep to hit their targets, then later failed to detonate when they did hit.
The Wahoo’s skipper, Cdr. Dudley “Mush” Morton, was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross. the 19 ships he’s credited with sinking are second on the Navy’s sub list for World War 2.
Yesterday it was announced that the resting place of the Wahoo and her crew of 60 officers and men had been found and confirmed:
The discovery of Wahoo is the culmination of more than a decade of work by an international team dedicated to finding the ill-fated submarine. In 2004, electronic surveys sponsored by a major international energy company (The Sakhalin Energy Investment Corporation) identified the likely site.
The Bowfin Museum in Hawaii worked with the team as an independent “scrutineer” to ensure the project was done correctly and will serve as a central repository for all the Wahoo Project’s findings, according to museum executive director, submariner, and retired Navy Capt. Jerry Hofwolt.
“This is the right thing to do for the families,” Hofwolt said. “We want to be able to tell people that this is where your loved ones are and to be a clearinghouse for all of the information about this and other lost submarines.”
Hofwolt said the museum is making plans to host a memorial ceremony to honor the crew members, most likely in October 2007.
The Russian Navy assisted with the confirmation, as they lost a sub of their own, the L-19, in the same area at the end of WW2 and wanted to be sure that it was not their boat that had been found. Be sure to read the whole thing for more information.