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U.S./U.K. Join Forces To Preserve Naval History

Atlantic Ocean. (February 16, 2024): This striking image of the wreck of USS Jacob Jones is one of the highlights of a joint recovery effort between the English Ministry of Defense’s Salvage and Marine Operations and the American Naval History and Heritage Command. In this photo by 2nd Lieutenant Mary Andom and later enhanced by the UK National Oceanography Center, the silhouette of the World War I Destroyer is revealed during a joint salvage survey. Using remotely piloted submersibles, the teams mapped the wreckage, recovered the ship’s bell, and even placed a wreath and an American flag on the wreck in tribute to the Sailors lost 107 years ago.

The Jacob Jones was discovered off the Isles of Scilly, England, in 2022 by technical divers and efforts have been underway to fully document and study the wreck site for its long-term preservation and protection. The destroyer was sunk by a German submarine on Dec. 6, 1917, and was the first U.S. Navy destroyer lost to enemy action. The ship sank eight minutes after being struck, with the U-boat commander radioing the approximate location of the survivors to the nearest American base for rescue.

Meanwhile, the ship’s officer-of-the-deck that directed the rescue effort died of exposure and was posthumously awarded the Navy Distinguished Service Medal. Sixty-six Sailors lost their lives when the ship sank without issuing a distress call.

The Naval History and Heritage Command, located at the Washington Navy Yard, is responsible for preserving, analyzing, and disseminating U.S. Naval history and heritage. The agency, collaborating with our British allies, plans to declare the site protected to ensure this watery grave is preserved in the memory of those who were lost that fateful day.