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Historic World War Two US Navy Ship Discovered Sunken off Japan’s Coast

A team of divers has discovered the wreckage of a US Navy ship that was destroyed by a kamikaze aircraft during World War Two in the Pacific Ocean.

According to a recent news release by the Naval History and Heritage Command, on April 12, 1945, while engaged in operations near the northern coast of Okinawa, a Japanese island, the USS Mannert L. Abele found itself surrounded by hostile aircraft. 

Rocket-Powered Bomb Devastates Navy Ship

The command reported that the Sumner-class cruiser successfully destroyed numerous enemy planes, but one of them managed to fall dangerously close to the ship, causing damage to its side. Shortly thereafter, the aircraft, identified as a Yokosuka MXY-7 Ohka, struck the waterline of the ship.

Based on the press release, it was revealed that the Ohka, also known as the “Cherry Blossom,” was responsible for the sinking of the USS Mannert L. Abele, making it the first US warship to be destroyed by a rocket-powered, human-guided bomb. 

The explosion caused significant damage to the Navy ship’s bow and stern, resulting in rapid buckling. The Ohka is recognized as one of the earliest examples of a cruise missile and had a maximum launch speed of 425 miles per hour.

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Discovery of Sunken Ship Brings Closure

A team of divers has discovered the wreckage of a US Navy ship that was destroyed by a kamikaze aircraft during World War Two in the Pacific Ocean.


As the attack unfolded, four fighter planes were deployed, and nearby Fire Support ships initiated rescue operations to save the crew members of the Abele from the attacking aircraft. Sadly, 84 servicemen were reported missing at sea.

Command Director Samuel J. Cox, a retired US Navy rear admiral, emphasized that the discovery of the sunken ship brings closure to the families of the deceased and provides an opportunity to remember and honor their sacrifices.

The Lost 52 Project, an organization dedicated to locating WWII-era Navy submarines and warships, discovered the sunken vessel in December 2022. According to a statement on their website, the project confirmed that the Abele was involved in Operation Iceberg, also known as the Battle of Okinawa. 

The statement also highlighted the somber atmosphere surrounding the tragedy, as it coincided with the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt on the same day. Approximately five weeks later, the United States deployed atomic bombs, devastating the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The Naval History and Heritage Command asserted that the Abele is now officially recognized as a sunken military vessel protected by US law and falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Navy. It is considered a war graveyard for sailors and should be honored accordingly.

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