Navy Warship Found 105 Years After Being Sunk During WWI

The USS Jacob Jones, which has the unfortunate place in U.S. naval history of being the 1st U.S. Navy destroyer sunk by enemy fire, was recently found by a British dive team who call themselves “Dark Star” some 105 years after she was sunk by a German U-Boat.

The USS Jones was a new kind of ship in the U.S. Navy at the time. Destroyers were smaller than the Navy’s massive battleships and cruisers of that era. They were built for speed and for their more diverse weapons platforms.

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During WWI, the USS Jones, like other destroyers, was deployed to escort supply convoys and to defend troop ships from enemy submarines and surface ships as they crossed the north Atlantic.

The Germans had developed the U-Boat into a powerful and effective weapon during WWI. They were a real menace to the allied merchant marine convoys and to troop ships all throughout that war. They sunk or damaged large numbers of those ships and caused great loss of life and material. These U.S. destroyers brought some comfort to the convoys as they had developed depth charge technologies to go after those submarines known to the allies as “sea wolves.”

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The German U-Boat, U-53, was one of the most deadly of those sea wolves operating in the north Atlantic during the war. Under its very able commander, it had already sunk or damaged 79 allied ships. Just that number of ships attributed to one U-Boat alone reveals how menacing those submarine sea wolves were and how troubling and feared they were during WWI. Still, those Merchant Marines and their allied naval support were not deterred in their dangerous efforts to supply the war effort against Germany.

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On December 6, 1917, the USS Jacob Jones had just completed an escort mission across the dangerous north Atlantic and was headed back to its then homeport in Ireland when the lookout spotted a single torpedo headed in her direction. The Jones attempted to evade the torpedo but was hit directly in her stern. The damage was massive and caused the ship to take on water at a deadly rate. She had a crew of 110 men at the time. Only 46 survived the attack that day. She sank quickly, going to her eternal rest 400 ft. below the Atlantic waves some 60 miles southwest of Portsmouth, England, near the southern end of the English Channel.

Recently, a British team of divers who specialize in seeking and finding sunken ships found and identified the USS Jacob Jones at the bottom of the Atlantic, where she has lain in silence, unseen, for over a century. United States Naval tradition holds that wherever one of her warships goes down, that place becomes an eternal memorial, a war grave. It is considered a hallowed site.

Photo: YouTube/History X

The USS Jacob Jones has been out of sight and out of most minds for 105 years now. Even those relatives and friends who knew the men who went down with the USS Jones that day are themselves long gone. But for the dedication of the British “Dark Star” dive teams, she and her lost crew members would still be lost to most memory.

This video brings the USS Jacob Jones and her crew back to our consciousness to be honored for their service in the cause of defending human freedom over a century ago. We now know where she and her crew rest. She and her crew are not forgotten. Rest in peace.

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