Missing World War II Submarine Found

(KHNL) -- Salvage divers from Pearl Harbor recently helped solve a 60-year old mystery. They gathered evidence confirming the U.S.S. Lagarto -- a submarine missing since World War II -- was finally found.

"There's a lot of mysteries about the ships that sunk during World War II, and this is a mystery that's been out there for a long time," said Lt. Com. Jeff Davis, spokesman for the Navy's submarine Pacific fleet.

The Lagarto was last heard from on May 3, 1945. Records indicate it was struck by a depth charge from the Japanese minelayer Hatsutaka.

"One of the sad things about the war of the sea is it leaves no wreckage on the battlefield," said Jerry Hofwolt, retired Navy captain and director of the U.S.S Bowfin Submarine Museum at Pearl Harbor. "The wreckage submerges below the surface of the sea, and you don't know where it is."

The wreckage was found by a British diver in May 2005, about 230 feet below in the Gulf of Thailand. Divers aboard the Pearl Harbor based U.S.S. Salvor gathered forensic evidence last month. Scientists in Washington D.C. Confirmed the sub was the Lagarto last Friday.

The ship was identified because of specific features unique to the Lagarto -- the location of the anchor, markings on the propeller and torpedo loading hatch.

It also has an extra gun on its deck. The subs at that time normally had one 5-inch gun on the aft. The Lagarto's front gun was installed by crews at Pearl Harbor.

And now thanks to divers from Pearl Harbor, the families of the 86 men on board the Lagarto will have something they've been missing for years -- closure.

"It made them feel a lot better knowing that their loved ones were safely entombed inside the U.S.S. Lagarto and that was their final resting place,"

The Navy has no plans to recover or open the sub. It considers the sea to be an appropriate resting place for those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.