OCEAN CITY, Md. (WJZ) — The wreckage of an American submarine was found in the waters off the coast of Ocean City, Maryland.
Atlantic Wreck Salvage, which operated D.V. Tenacious, found the wreckage of R-8 (S.S. 85) using side scan sonar. The submarine was dispatched by experimental aerial bomb testing in 1936. The discovery is important because R-8 is one of the few American submarines resting in diveable waters and had yet to be located.
The crews must still dive down into the waters to visually confirm the finding.
According to AWS, the R-8 was one of 27 submarines commissioned by the U.S. Navy during World War I. Built in 1918 by Fore River Shipbuilding in Quincy, Massachusetts, the submarine transited the Panama Canal, became a part of a the Pacific Fleet and participated in Naval training off the coasts of California and the Gulf of Mexico.
In 1923, it sailed to Pearl Harbor where it was involved in training and operations with fleet units for the next eight years. In 1927, R-8 searched for pilots who went missing during the Dole Air Race and returned to the East Coast in 1930, becoming a part of the Inactive Naval Reserve Fleet at Philadelphia.
Officials say the submarine sank in the Navy Yard on February 26, 1936 and was raised in April before being used as a target in an aerial bombing test in August. It was four near missed with 100-pound bombs that sent the vessel to the bottom of the ocean.
“The sonar data leaves little doubt that the R-8 has been located,” said world-renown sonar expert Garry Kozak of GK Consulting, who analyzed sonar data with the team. “The submarine in the image is the correct length, width, and height. One set of prominent features of the R-class subs visible in the scan image is the spray rail configuration on the conning tower.”
Wreck hunter Captain Eric Takakjian and D/V Tenacious Captain Joe Mazraani have been working to find the R-8 for years. Captain Ted Green assisted the team by providing information about potential targets he gathered over the years.
“The discovery of any new vessel is exciting,” said Captain Takakjian, who has discovered more than seventy shipwrecks in his career. “It appears from the sonar images that the site will reveal a very well-preserved example of an R-class submarine in existence anywhere. We are looking forward to conducting additional research and to diving the wreck in 2021.”
The team is not releasing additional information about the depth or location of the submarine until they can dive and make a formal identification.
The side scan sonar shows the vessel is intact and sitting upright on the ocean floor.
See photos of the R-8 and discovery team below: