Wreckage Of The First-ever US Navy Destroyer Sunk By Enemy Fire Discovered

Divers off England’s southwestern coast have reported discovering a World War I US Navy destroyer named USS Jacob Jones, reportedly sunk by a submarine from Germany over a century ago.

A torpedo hit the USS Jacob Jones in 1917 in the waters of the English Channel. It is still the first US Navy destroyer to be ever sunk by enemy fire, per the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC).
About 64 of the destroyer’s 110 crew members and officers lost their lives when the vessel went down.

Darkstar, a group of specialist divers, based in the UK, discovered the wreckage nearly 400 feet under the water and about 60 miles south of Newlyn in Cornwall, a dive team member named Steve Mortimer mentioned on a Facebook post.

The team mentioned that they chose not to disturb the site and had been in touch with the US Department of State to send an alert of the discovery.

Wreckage
Image for representation purpose only

The USS Jacob Jones had been patrolling off the Virginia coast as war broke out between the US and Germany on 6 April 1917, per the NHHC. The vessel was eventually deployed to escort supply convoys around the UK and rescue survivors of British warships hit by enemy fire. This included picking up almost 305 survivors from a torpedoed British cruiser, Orama.

But on 6 December 1917, the vessel was suddenly struck by a German torpedo almost 20 miles east of Start Point in England. Per the NHHC, as the stern sank, David W. Bagley, the Commander, ordered life rafts launched and the vessel abandoned. Eight minutes after the torpedo hit it, the destroyer reportedly sank with 62 crew members and two officers onboard.

Kapitan Hans Rose, the commander of the attacking submarine, took two wounded survivors prisoner, per information from the NHHC’s account. In the meantime, two British warships introduced rescue operations, and 39 individuals were saved of the 103 who were on board.

Lieutenant Stanton F. Kalk, the officer on the deck when the torpedo reportedly struck, showed exceptional heroism and helped the men out of the water. He put them into boats and life rafts, the NHHC mentioned. He died of exposure and exhaustion. Later on, he was awarded the Navy’s Distinguished Service Medal. Two of the Navy destroyers later were named after Kalk.

Among the 39 survivors was Lt Cdr Norman Scott, who was killed in World War II while he was in action. He also received the Medal of Honor.

Dominic Robinson, a diver, mentioned that the team had to fight against a powerful and shifting current to locate the wreckage of this iconic warship.

He mentioned on Facebook that, without any doubt, this was one of the most satisfying dives he had gone for in a while. Identifying a wreck of historical significance is always a brilliant experience, but doing it beyond 100 meters and far out in the sea magnifies that.

The discovery happened less than two months after a US Navy destroyer escort sunk during World War II was found nearly 23,000 feet under the sea level off the Philippines, making it the deepest shipwreck ever located.

References: CBS News, The Weather Channel, Metro 50

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