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Up from the depths

MAY 1 - A vessel believed to be a sunken World War II torpedo boat rose to the surface in the Pacific last month off the Solomon Islands after a massive earthquake hit the region.

The boat was discovered after reefs rose more than 10 feet above sea level early last month when an 8.1-magnitude earthquake hit the western Solomons, an Associated Press news report says. The boat’s main hull, packed with explosives, was still intact. The quake caused a tsunami that reportedly killed about 50 people.

“My team members believe that this could be one of those U.S. torpedo boats,” an official from the National Disaster Management Office says in the report. A number of World War II sea battles occurred off Guadalcanal, the Solomons’ main island.

“We were amazed by the finding, as previously this wreckage had long been sitting under the sea and rusting …” the official says.

Perhaps the best known of the World War II torpedo boats was PT-109, commanded by John. F. Kennedy. He was a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy when the boat was sunk off the Solomons by a Japanese destroyer. The wreck was found in 2002 by oceanographer Robert Ballard.

Jason Fell