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Story by Petty Officer 1st Class Abigayle Lutz 

Naval History and Heritage Command

WASHINGTON NAVY YARD – Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) confirmed the identity of a wreck site located in Japanese waters as USS Mannert L. Abele (DD 733) May 25.

An Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer, the ship was the first U.S. warship sunk by a Japanese Suicide Rocket Bomb April 12th, 1945.

NHHC’s Underwater Archaeology Branch (UAB) used information provided by Tim Taylor, an ocean explorer and CEO of Tiburon Subsea, and Taylor’s “Lost 52 Project” team to confirm the identity of Mannert L. Abele.

“Mannert L. Abele is the final resting place for 84 American Sailors who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of their country,” said NHHC Director Samuel J. Cox, U.S. Navy rear admiral (retired). “My deepest thanks and congratulations to Tim Taylor and his team for discovering this wreck site. Its discovery allows some closure to the families of those lost, and provides us all another opportunity to remember and honor them.”

On April 12th, 1945, Mannert L. Abele was operating 75 miles off the northern coast of Okinawa, when enemy aircraft appeared on radar. Mannert L. Abele engaged with, and damaged multiple enemy aircraft, until eventually an aircraft managed to crash abreast of the after fireroom on the starboard side, penetrating the after-engine room. A minute later, the ship was hit at the waterline by a Yokosuka MXY-7 Ohka (Cherry Blossom) rocket-powered human-guided bomb, and the resulting explosion caused the ship’s bow and stern to buckle rapidly.

Mannert L. Abele was the first of three radar picket ships hit and the first U.S. Navy vessel sunk by the human-guided kamikaze bomb.

The wreck of Mannert L. Abele is a U.S. sunken military craft protected by U.S. law and under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Navy. While non-intrusive activities, such as remote sensing documentation, on U.S. Navy sunken military craft are allowed, any activity that may result in the disturbance of a sunken military craft must be coordinated with NHHC and, if appropriate, authorized through a relevant permitting program. Most importantly, the wreck represents the final resting place of Sailors that gave their life in defense of the nation and should be respected by all parties as a war grave.

For more information on Mannert L. Abele, please visit https://www.history.navy.mil/content/history/nhhc/news-and-events/news/2023/nhhc-identifies-abele-site.html

NHHC, located at the Washington Navy Yard, is responsible for preserving, analyzing, and disseminating U.S. naval history and heritage. It provides the knowledge foundation for the Navy by maintaining historically relevant resources and products that reflect the Navy’s unique and enduring contributions through our nation’s history and supports the fleet by assisting with and delivering professional research, analysis, and interpretive services. NHHC comprises many activities, including the Navy Department Library, the Navy Operational Archives, the Navy art and artifact collections, underwater archeology, Navy histories, 10 museums, USS Constitution repair facility, and the historic ship Nautilus.