USS Harder: remains of the famous US Navy WWII submarine found off the Philippines

Tim Taylor and the Lost 52 Project/Courtesy of the US Navy.

4D photogrammetry model of the USS Harder (SS 257) wreck site by The Lost 52 Project. The Lost 52 Project scanned the entire ship and stitched all the images into a multidimensional model used to study and explore the site off Luzon, Philippines.


The remains of one of the U.S. Navy’s most famous submarines from World War II have been found in the South China Sea eight decades after its last patrol, the Navy History and Heritage Command said Thursday.

The USS Harder lies under 3,000 feet (about 900 meters) of water off the island of Luzon in the northern Philippines and is upright and intact except for damage behind its conning tower caused by a Japanese depth charge, the NHHC said in a news release.

Harder was lost in battle on August 24, 1944, along with her entire crew of 79 submariners, while on her sixth patrol of the war, as the United States attempted to recapture the Philippines from Japanese occupation forces.

“Harder got lost in the course of the victory. We must not forget that victory has a price, as does freedom,” NHHC Director Samuel J. Cox, a retired US Navy admiral, said in the press release.

According to a US Navy history, Harder sank two Japanese escort ships off the Bataan Peninsula on August 22, 1944 and then headed north along the coast of Luzon with two others. submarines in search of more targets.

Naval History and Heritage Command

US Navy file photo of USS Harder.

In a battle with the Japanese escort ship CD-22 on the morning of August 24, Harder fired three torpedoes that missed and were then sunk by the Japanese ship’s fifth depth charge attack, according to Japanese records cited by NHHC.

The NHHC said the Harder’s sinking was confirmed by data provided by Project Lost 52, an effort led by Tim Taylor, CEO of Tiburon Subsea, to find the 52 U.S. submarines lost in World War II.

The group has previously located at least six World War II submarines, the NHHC said.

“We are grateful that Lost 52 has given us the opportunity to once again honor the valor of the crew of the ‘Hit ’em Harder’ submarine,” said NHHC’s Cox, referring to the ship’s motto.

The NHHC said the wreck is “the final resting place of sailors who gave their lives in defense of the nation and should be respected by all parties as a war grave.”

The Philippines was a US territory attacked by Japan just after its attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. In the spring of 1942, US and Filipino forces on Luzon surrendered to Tokyo forces and Japan used the captured archipelago to protect its supply lines from the East. India and Southeast Asia.

But by mid-1944, the United States was pushing back Japanese advances throughout the Pacific and was planning landings to do the same in the Philippines.

Harder, who had the motto “Hit ’em harder”, was captained by Cmdr. Samuel Dealey, who would be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the US Army’s highest decoration, for his actions on Harder’s Fifth Patrol, March to July 1944.

During that time, Harder sank three Japanese destroyers and two others were likely destroyed or severely damaged over the course of just four days, according to the National Medal of Honor Museum.

The museum’s page on Dealey described a particularly harrowing encounter.

When attacked by a Japanese destroyer, Dealey ordered a frontal torpedo shot into the bow of the charging enemy, known as a “throat” shot, according to the museum’s account.

“At 1,500 yards, Dealey fired three torpedoes and ordered the submarine to dive. As the More difficult “Passing 80 feet below the destroyer, two of the torpedoes hit the ship, sending shock waves through the submarine.”

In her first four patrols after commissioning on December 2, 1942, Harder sank 14 Japanese warships and merchant ships, according to the Medal of Honor Museum.

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