Identifying the Wreck
Description of the wrecksite
The location of the wrecksite is just a few miles outside the channel entrance, in what is called the Naval Defensive Sea Area (NDSA). The sub is broken into three sections, which lie roughly along a single bearing line. Using the mid section as the reference, the stern section lies approximately 50m away; the bow, 130m. The condition of each is as follows:
The bow section is the most intact of the three. The only damage evident is the hole punched through the top hull plates, near the seam flange, through which a steel cable was run. The end of the cable extends just less than 2 feet from the hole before it abruptly terminates. Of concern, though, is a large corrosion hole in the after end of the upper torpedo tube that may have been exacerbated by some sort of impact with another object, which would have to have happened after the bow was separated from the mid section. The seam flange at the after end of the section is intact and pristine, albeit covered in corrosion and biological growth.
The torpedo tubes were empty and the edges of the tubes were clean and sharp, with no evidence of broken concretion that would be expected if the torpedoes had been removed after salvage. After studying imagery of the torpedo tubes and comparing against photos taken of the Keehi Lagoon sub (where the torpedoes were found cemented in their tubes), Dr. Lori Johnston-Hill from Ground Effects Environmental Services, concluded that the torpedoes had been fired before the sub had sunk, instead of having been removed by salvors. She stated that in order for the torpedoes to have been safely removed during salvage, the sub would have to have been raised withn only a few weeks after sinking. Outside of that very small time window, encrustation would already begin cementing the torpedo within its tube. Given that the interior bolts holding the bow and mid sections together were found to be cemented in place. Dr. Johnston-Hill believes that the torpedoes would have been found to be in a similar state, if they had been present at the time of salvage.
Examination of the torpedoes in the Keehi Lagoon sub after salvage.