An explosive surprise attack by one of Japan's new secret weapons sent a U.S. auxiliary oiler to the bottom of Ulithi lagoon late in World War II. This is the story of that horrific morning—captured in dramatic photos by a storekeeper in a tugboat alongside—and of the diligent efforts to find the "last mystery shipwreck."
After tracing many unproductive search patterns in Ulithi's wind-swept lagoon on 6 April 2001, we were about 15 minutes from terminating our seven-day quest to locate the wreck of the 553-foot-long, 25,425-ton USS Mississinewa (AO-59). Our team, including Dr. Pat Scannon and my wife, Pam, had been watching for anything that might help reveal her location. Our extremely competent Ulithian crew, Mario Suk, Faustino Yalomai, and Kenneth Wur, and an acquaintance, Lisa Wallner, also did not provide the solution. We had only two more passes to complete before we would join the ranks of the many previous teams who could not find what naval historian James Delgado has described as the last great mystery shipwreck of World War II.