The Search for the Grunion, A 60 Year Old Mystery

Early in the morning of July 31st 1942 about 10 miles NE of a Japanese occupied island at the far tip of the Aleutians there was a confrontation between a U S Submarine, the Grunion, and a Japanese freighter. The sub was never heard from again. For over a half a century our Navy knew nothing of the confrontation and carried the fate of the submarine and its 70 occupants on its books as “missing in action, cause unknown“.

Sixty years later due to the efforts of Yutaka Iwasaki , an interpreter and WWII Japanese navy buff, the probable location and account of that confrontation have become known. Yutaka discovered and translated (in itself quite a story) an article written in an obscure Japanese maritime magazine by the “Superintendent” of the Japanese freighter.

The sons of Mannert L Abele, the commander of the sub, have just enlisted the help of Williamson Associates to do, this August, a side scan sonar search to determine what happened. It won’t be a picnic. This area is known for some of the worst weather in the world and the sub is almost a mile down.

The plan, which can cover as much as 800 sq miles, may attempt to locate other American and Japanese targets.

USS Mannert L Abele may also be familiar to some as the destroyer that was sunk in 1945 while in picket duty off Okinawa from a combination of between 20 to 30 kamikazes and a rocket driven suicide bomb.

For more information about the search, see For detailed background information behind the rather unusual story of the USS Grunion, go to

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