Divers working off the coast of Thailand have discovered the wreckage of a submarine they believe to be the USS Grenadier which was lost in 1943 during World War II.
The Grenadier was one of 52 US subs that were sunk during the war. The 1,475-ton, 307-foot long vessel was scuttled after a Japanese plane damaged it with bombs. The crew scuttled the ship and all 76 crewmembers survived.
However, the crew was captured by the Japanese and they were beaten, tortured, and almost starved to death during their two years in captivity. Four of them didn’t survive to the end of the war.
Divers located the wreck in 270 feet of water in the Strait of Malacca. It is approximately 92 miles south of Phuket, Thailand.
Jean Luc Rivoire, Benoit Laborie, Lance Horowitz, and Ben Reymenants comprise the team of divers who made the discovery. An international team, the members are based in Singapore, France, and Thailand. Reymenants was in the news before as part of the team of divers who rescued the soccer team from the flooded cave in 2018.
Reymenants has searching for the locations of shipwrecks for many years. He would ask fisherman for the locations where they lost their nets. Rivoire provided the boat used to scan the areas with sonar.
They found an interesting object on sonar so they dove down to take a look. The object was a lot larger than they had expected so they began to research in the archives to find out what ships may have sank in the area.
They dove in order to find a nameplate or anything that would identify the vessel but came up empty.
In the end, they performed a detailed measurement of the ship and found that it exactly matches the records for the USS Grenadier.
They sent the results of their research along with photos to the US Navy Underwater Archaeology Branch. Dr. Robert Neyland of the branch said that they typically get two or three requests from researchers per year asking to identify a sunken vessel.
Neyland said the review, analysis and documentation will likely take from two months to a year to finish. In this particular instance, he expects it to take a few months.
The Grenadier was launched in 1940 and went on her first patrol of WWII on February 4, 1942.
On that tour, she travelled to Japan, the southwest Pacific, the South China Sea, and the Dutch East Indies which were occupied by Japan at the time.
She is credited with sinking six ships and damaging another two prior to her sixth tour. The Grenadier embarked on that final tour from Freemantle, Australia, on March 20, 1943.
On April 20, the crew noticed two small freighters and set a course to intercept them. They sailed on the surface in order to maximize their speed.
The next morning, they spotted a plane and the order to dive was given. They did not reach a sufficient depth to avoid the plane’s bombs. The power went out on the ship, key parts were destroyed and a fire started.
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After 13 hours, the Grenadier surfaced and it was determined that she was too crippled to continue, especially with two enemy ships heading her way. They scuttled the ship and were taken prisoner aboard an armed merchant ship then taken to Penang in Malaysia where the torture began the day they arrived.