|On Eternal Patrol - The Discovery of USS Perch (SS-176)|
The Java Sea Reveals a Wartime Secret
(Please note: This announcement is not an official U.S. Navy release, and in no way should be taken as emanating from the Navy or from any other U.S. Governmental agency.)
In early March of 1942, less than three months into the War in the Pacific, the submarine USS Perch (SS-176) was conducting her second war patrol in the hostile waters of the Java Sea.
After a series of battles against multiple units of the Japanese Imperial Navy, during which Perch was severely damaged and rendered unable to dive safely or to defend herself, commanding officer David Hurt ordered his vessel abandoned. He sent his vessel to the bottom with an open conning tower hatch in order to avoid its capture. The entire crew was picked up by the Japanese and sent to Prisoner of War camps, where six members of the Perch crew died as POWs, but the remaining 53 did manage to survive and were liberated at the Warís end.
Over sixty years later, an international
team of divers and photographers were on a regular dive charter
in the waters north of Surabaya City, Java when the vessel's
sonar revealed a long slender object on the sea floor that
merited investigation. Vidar Skoglie and dive team members
Kevin Denlay, Dieter Kops, Mike Gadd, and Craig Challen soon
found a wreck at a depth of approximately 190 feet. Although
the divers immediately knew that the wreck was a submarine, they
were unsure of its identity until they discovered a plaque on
its conning tower. Even under a layer of more than a
half-century of marine growth, the large lettering of the plaque
could be read:
Photographer Kevin Denlay contacted the Naval Historical Center in Washington, D.C., and the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in early December of last year and shared the news of the teamís discovery. He provided the museum with still photographs and a DVD of the dive which clearly reveal, despite low visibility conditions, evidence of the identity and final resting place of the vessel.
When Perch survivor Robert Lents was contacted in his Arkansas home, he expressed great interest in the discovery. He especially would like to see what his boat looks like after all these years. Not only that, he added, ďI left $35 in my locker on the boat. Itís probably still there.Ē The wreck is protected under U.S. and International laws, so Bobís savings and as well his battling submarine lie at the bottom of the Java Sea, undisturbed.
If you are a crew member, or a relative or a friend of any man who served on this boat, please contact us.
External Links - Online Articles
Sunken WWII sub found by accident near Java, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, January 21, 2007
Arkansas man recalls sinking of WWII sub (no longer online) WMC-TV, Memphis
Memories Surface With Sub's Discovery (no longer online) theday.com, February 5, 2007