USS Escolar (SS-294): Has She Been Located?
Updated: Apr 6
"And I Think It's Gonna Be a Long, Long Time..."
...but who knew it would be this long? I advise on the homepage of my website to "check the dates", and question how committed others are to their sites if they don't regularly update them. Much to my embarrassment, I'm now just as guilty. Projects and life have kept me away from the keyboard, but I never really left the paranormal. I'm back and, yes, it has been a long time. Too long.
USS Escolar (SS-294): Everything You've Read Is Wrong
No edition of The Booo! Blog has generated, and continues to generate, the volume of mail and inquiries as the January 2012 edition. While the others are widely read, my story of USS Escolar, a submarine lost in 1944, seems to have connected on a different level. The mystery surrounding her disappearance, the tragic loss of all hands, and a spectral encore apparently made for a potent mix, but not one by design. The blog tells of what was known about USS Escolar and her crew at the time of her disappearance, and what happened decades later as a result. As I've stated elsewhere on these pages, and with apologies to Mark Twain: Sometimes truth is spookier than fiction.
The unknown fate of USS Escolar has always followed me, as my uncle, Joseph James Bender, Jr., Ph1M, United States Navy, was a member of her crew. Whenever life gets hectic and Escolar, by necessity, drifts to the back of my mind, something always jolts it back, front and center. It happened tonight: I was watching an episode of Gordon Ramsay's Hell's Kitchen (a rare episode where he actually did very little screaming...the guy's my hero) and what did one of the chefs prepare? Escolar. I knew that Escolar is a fish, but have you ever heard of anyone having it for dinner? Ever seen it on a menu? My intention was to write this blog several days ago, but I was pulled in another, unrelated direction. Just as the countless times in the past, synchronicity stepped in, hit me over the head, and the crew of USS Escolar found a way to politely say, "Excuse us, we don't mean to be a bother, but if you wouldn't mind pulling your ass away from the television, we're still waiting to be found". Transcending the passage of time that we, on this side, perceive as seventy years, these interdimensional ship to shore reminders have recently been on the upswing. Why? Because, thanks to an odd twist of fate sparking an international effort involving a team of dedicated individuals, we now believe we know, not only what happened to USS Escolar, but where she likely rests. With the recent surfacing of new documents, primarily from sources in Japan, it has become apparent that the official U.S. Navy account of what was believed to have happened to USS Escolar in October 1944 was, in fact, not the reality. She did not hit a mine, disintegrating in relative swiftness. To the contrary, Commander W.J. Millican and the crewmen of USS Escolar engaged in an extended and harrowing game of cat and mouse in a desperate attempt to save their lives.
What follows, published for the first time, is a copy of the USS Escolar (SS-294) Factual Summary. It is important to understand that this is a 'living' document, and contains information believed to be currently accurate. Therefore, as new information is uncovered, it is possible that this document may be subject to emendation.
USS Escolar (SS-294)
Compiled/Written: Anthony Duda
Date: July 2, 2014
The last known radio transmission received from USS Escolar (SS-294) was on Tuesday, October 17, 1944. Escolar reported that she was 33°-44'N, 127°-33'E, and was heading for 33°-44'N, 129°-06'E. These coordinates place the submarine in the Tsushima Strait. The 'wolf pack', known as "Millican's Marauders" and consisting of USS Escolar (SS-294), USS Croaker (SS-246) and USS Perch (SS-313) entered the strait on Sunday, October 15, 1944. On Tuesday, October 17 at 23:00, Escolar Commander W.J. Millican ordered Croaker and Perch south of Sasebo, Japan. They departed, separating from Escolar.
The data is undisputed.
Entry in the USS Perch (SS-313) log, dated Tuesday, October 17, 1944.
On Thursday, October 19, 1944, Imperial Japanese Navy destroyer CD-38 detected an unknown submarine and engaged in an anti-submarine attack while escorting IJN convoy MI-23 in the Tsushima Strait, dropping over 30 depth charges. Bubbles and an oil slick immediately appeared and gear believed to be from the submarine surfaced at the site. The coordinates of the attack: 33°-32'N, 128°-43'E. USS Escolar (SS-294) would have very likely been at those general coordinates at that time. If she did, indeed, execute her route according to her last radio transmission, the documented attack coordinates would have been along her route.
It must be noted that the Japan Geodetic System used the Bessel Ellipsoid, not WGS84 Ellipsoid. Therefore, the coordinates documented in 1944 may shift as much as 60m to the north with conversion to WGS 84 Ellipsoid.
Victor Lavon Lee, Jr. (deceased), crew member of USS Croaker (SS-246) while on patrol with USS Escolar (SS-294) and USS Perch (SS-313). He contacted Anthony Duda on Wednesday, May 9, 2012 in response to his Wednesday, January 4, 2012 blog about USS Escolar (SS-294). He stated that he witnessed sound of explosions in distance and the direction of USS Escolar (SS-294) at approximately 15:00 on Thursday, October 19, 1944.
*Combat Action Report of CD-38, dated Thursday, October 19, 1944. Japan Center for Asian Historical Records National Archives of Japan.
*Wartime diary of IJN PB-102. Japan Center for Asian Historical Records National Archives of Japan.
*Imperial Japanese Navy personnel memorandum. Library of Peace Memorial Display Museum.
*USS Perch (SS-313) log, dated Tuesday, October 17, 1944
**Richard F. Graham, MosaicGeo USA, LLC, Seattle, Washington
No other United States Navy submarine or submarine from another nation was reported as attacked or sunk on Thursday, October 19, 1944 in the area where USS Escolar (SS-294) would have likely been at the time of the IJN CD-38 attack*.
The data is undisputed.
*IJN 1 Escort Flotilla wartime diary (CD-38 and PB-102 were part of IJN 1 Escort Flotilla), October 1944.
*Exhaustive Internet investigation and research.
There is an official Japan Coast Guard 'snag report' map that notates a wreck in the approximate documented location where IJN destroyer CD-38 located and attacked the unknown submarine on Thursday, October 19, 1944.
The data is undisputed.
Japan Coast Guard.
According to bathymetric charts, the documented coordinates (regardless of the possible Bessel Ellipsoid/WGS84 Ellipsoid discrepancy) in the Tsushima Strait place the wreck at a relatively shallow depth of 140m (460 ft).
The data is undisputed.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
According to Yutaka Iwasaki, a researcher in Japan, the documented coordinates where IJN CD-38 attacked the unknown submarine (33°-32'N, 128°-43'E) would place the location of the wreck in or very near an area of the Tsushima Strait known as "Area Golf", a fire training area for United States military forces in Japan. The Japan Coast Guard warns not to enter the area without full knowledge of the possible risk.
While there is some question as to the exact location of USS Escolar (SS-294), this slight discrepancy is likely due to the Bessel Ellipsoid utilized by the Japanese at the time relative to the WGS84 Ellipsoid used today. In any event, the Japan Coast Guard does know where the wreck is located, as they have noted it on their 'snag report' map of the area. In addition, we have fairly precise coordinates, corroborated by multiple source material. The facts demonstrate that there is every reason to believe the "unknown submarine" attacked in the Tsushima Strait on Thursday, October 19, 1944 was, indeed, USS Escolar, with no existing evidence to suggest otherwise.
The 82 brave men aboard USS Escolar want to be found. They want finality and closure for their family members and loved ones and, only then, will they finally rest. But perhaps, most of all, they want their story to be told. They want us to know the truth.
We owe them that.
Research and Assistance
Charles R. Hinman
USS Escolar (SS-294): The New England Connection Runs Deep
Nine crewmen aboard USS Escolar (SS-294) hailed from New England*
(Click on image to enlarge)
Thomas Babb, Lieutenant
Joe Monroe Cummings, Motor Machinist's Mate, First Class
John Clinton Farwell, Chief Yeoman
Losson Verner Jeffrey, Lieutenant, Junior Grade
Norwich, Connecticut (Photograph not available)
Howard Carlton Latham, Lieutenant, Junior Grade
Esmond, Rhode Island
William Clarence Lyons, Jr., Motor Machinist's Mate, Second Class
Joseph Masloski, Fireman, First Class
North Hatfield, Massachusetts
Richard Clarence Turner, Electrician's Mate, Second Class
New Bedford, Massachusetts (Photograph not available)
Richard William Wybrow, Ship's Cook, Third Class
Keene, New Hampshire (Photograph not available)
*Photographs and information courtesy of Charles R. Hinman/On Eternal Patrol: Dedicated to all men lost while serving in the U.S. Submarine Force. For more information, please visit the website: http://www.oneternalpatrol.com
We Need Your Help!
Regardless of what part of the United States they were from, eighty-two men tragically lost their lives aboard USS Escolar. There is a need to get 'eyes in the water' utilizing side-scan sonar and other equipment at the documented coordinates of the attack on October 19, 1944, the location of the wreck documented on the Japan Coast Guard snag map, as well as the immediate, surrounding area, as some drift may have occurred due to the passage of time and effect of currents. Therefore, we respectfully urge the U.S. Government, Japanese Government, and private individuals and concerns with the capability to assist to do so. Sadly, while the story of USS Escolar is dramatic, it is certainly not unique. We now believe we know what happened to USS Escolar and, yes, we now believe we know where she is, resting at a relatively shallow depth of 140m (460 ft). This would not be a salvage mission, but one of identification, documentation, and closure. It matters not if seven days or seventy years have passed, they are waiting and want to be found. And yes, we do owe them that.
I would like to thank Dr. Robert Ballard of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution for his attention and consideration in the search for USS Escolar (SS-294).
Legal Disclaimer: All information, opinion and theories on this website and blog are published in good faith and for general information purposes only. I do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability and accuracy of this information. Any action you take upon the information on my website and blog is strictly at your own risk, and I will not be liable for any losses and/or damages in connection with its use. All opinion and theories are strictly my own, and should not be construed as fact.