The Search for the Wahoo - Sonar and photographic images

Bryan MacKinnon for the Wahoo Project Group - September 2006

The search for the USS Wahoo has taken many unexpected turns over the 60 years since it commenced in 1947. It was that year that George Logue, who lost his brother Robert on the Wahoo, attempted to find out what he could. Details were sketchy at best. It was known where the Wahoo was patrolling but that was about it. It was always assumed she either struck a mine, or as Dick O'Kane thought, she was struck by her own errant torpedo.

Through the persistence of George Logue, Marty Schaffer, Dick O'Kane, The Morton Family, Japanese Admiral Kazuo Ueda, Satoru Saga of Wakkanai, Ayumi Saga, Tom Logue, Larry Hagen, Keiko Takada of Tokyo, Tommy Tamagawa, Paul Crozier, and many others, my part of the story, which goes back to 1995, was made a lot easier. Those who came before me explored the Japanese archives, built memorials, interviewed participants in the attack, and had a pretty good idea where she lay. Wayne Sampey, executive director of the Ocean Wilderness Group, contacted me in 2002 and through his efforts, a viable search program is created and the Russian and American Governments are formally engaged as well as the USS Bowfin Museum and Park which gracefully handled a press release.

However, there was only circumstantial evidence of her location, nothing tangible. We had enough information to search a few probable locations. That all changed in 2005. From 2004, Sakhalin Energy Investment Corporation (SEIC) and their subcontractor Romona had been conducting sub-sea surveys in La Perouse (Soya) strait and they diverted from their normal routes to scan two sites we always thought probable. At one site, something that appeared to be a freighter was found. But at the other site, something very interesting was found. Ian Bullpitt, a contractor for SEIC, came across these images during his normal work and made these available to the project team in 2005.

In 2006, Vladimir Kartashev, who is based out of Vladivostok, has been conducting a search for the Russian submarine L-19 which perished in the last days of the war. He had access to the same side scan sonar images and wished to verify that this site was not the L-19. In July 2006, he led a team of divers to the site and as we expected, it was not a Russian submarine at all. Rather, it is possible that it is an American Gato class submarine that happens to be at the last known site of the Wahoo – the same site that we had been predicted through all the research.

But the story is not over yet. The United States Navy will not certify it is the Wahoo, or even a Gato class boat, until it conducts its own survey using well established procedures.

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