The USS Samuel B. Roberts was a 1944 escort destroyer built to guard and support the growing American fleets in the Pacific. The ship was commissioned in April and sank six months later in one of the largest naval battles in history. The Battle Off Samar was a chief naval action that occurred as a part of the larger Battle of Leyte Gulf.
The USS Samuel B. Roberts was not a large vessel. It only displaced 1,350 tons and had a crew complement of 215 officers and enlisted. Its main armament was just two 5-inch guns. That is one of the reasons it was impressive when the destroyer faced down a Japanese cruiser and was ultimately sent to the bottom. The smaller ship got in so close to a large cruiser that the guns could not lower their muzzles enough to hit the ship.
The US destroyer was eventually shredded by massive 14-inch shells by the lurking Japanese battleship Kongo. Ninety men went down with the destroyer as it sank in incredibly deep waters. After her hull vanished beneath the waves, she was not seen for nearly 78 years.
The World’s Deepest Shipwreck
An expedition financed and led by Victor Vescovo found the wreck of the Samuel B. Roberts deep below the ocean. The wreck was found sitting on the bottom of the sea, largely intact at a depth of 22,621ft (6,895m). The area under which the Battle of Leyte Gulf was fought features some of the deepest waters on Earth. More than 97% of the world’s seafloor is shallower than 20,000 feet. The area around the Marianas Islands features extremely deep trenches that plummet to some of the deepest depths on Earth. There are likely ships that have settled at the bottom of these trenches that will never be seen again.
For reference, the Titanic sank into waters roughly 12,600 feet deep. That makes the wreck of the Samuel B. Roberts 10,000 feet deeper than the Titanic. That is insane.
Due to the extreme depths into which it sank, the “Sammy B” Roberts was lucky to be found at all. But this is not the first deep wreck that Vescovo has found. He found another US naval wreck at depths over 20,000 feet, and he knows there are plenty more Japanese and American ships lying at impressive depths in the Pacific.
From the crumpled sides and the location of the torpedo tubes, it looks like the ship struck the bottom bow first. It must have been a long and cold journey from the surface to the bottom. The bow would have struck the bottom and came to rest, never to move again.
As of 2022, the wreck of the Samuel B. Roberts is the deepest shipwreck ever to be found and confirmed. The wreck lies at depths exceeding anything else ever captured on camera.
The company working with Vescovo is looking for other deep American wrecks yet to be found. They look forward to finding ships that have not been seen since the day they sank nearly 100 years ago.
There could be more incredible finds in store for Victor Vescovo, who has an impressive resume of adventuring under his belt. He has already found two wrecks at depths deeper than 21,000 feet. There are definitely more wrecks out there to be found, and some of them could be even deeper. The deepest point in the world’s oceans is 35,876ft in the same area that the Sammy B went down.
Until the next ship is found, the world’s deepest wreck is 22,621ft under the surface of the Pacific Ocean.
* NBC News