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The First US Navy Destroyer Sunk by Enemy Fire Has Been Found

A century-old mystery has been put to rest.

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  • USS Jacob Jones sinking off the Scilly Islands, England.Photo Credit: Smithsonian Institution via Naval History and Heritage Command

Fascinating news has emerged from the depths of the Atlantic. On August 11th, 2022, a group of expert divers from the UK announced that they had found the wreckage of the USS Jacob Jones, the first US Navy destroyer to be sunk by enemy fire. The ship went down on December 6, 1917, eight minutes after it was struck by a German torpedo off the coast of England.

When the United States entered World War I in April 1917, the USS Jacob Jones was deployed to the UK, where it escorted supply convoys and helped rescue survivors of downed British warships. However, it would soon see enemy action.

Related: 7 Stunning Underwater Shipwrecks That Turn Back the Tides of Time

103 servicemen were onboard when the ship was attacked in the English Channel eight months later. Jacob Jones was returning to the UK after escorting a convoy to France. The German submarine U-53 spotted her and fired a torpedo that struck her rudder and sank the ship. Ultimately, two officers and 62 crew members perished. Of note is the heroic actions of Lieutenant Stanton F. Kalk, who helped load survivors into life rafts. He succumbed to the elements and was posthumously awarded the Navy’s Distinguished Service Medal.

For the past 105 years, the exact location of the remains of the USS Jacob Jones has remained a mystery. The divers found it approximately 400 feet underwater and 60 miles south of Newlyn, Cornwall. They left the site untouched and contacted US officials regarding the historic discovery. 

The news marks another exciting development in naval history. Earlier this year, expeditions found the Endurance shipwreck as well as the USS Samuel B. Roberts. At nearly 23,000 feet below sea level off the coast of the Philippines, it is the deepest shipwreck ever located to date.