The five-person Oregon Coast Project Team has been trying to solve a World War II mystery since 2007. Why? Astoria-based SubChaser 536 crew members, including Robert Wood, now 95, have spent nearly 70 years trying to prove they crippled and sank two enemy submarines (not one) off the Oregon Coast in May 1943. Wood is pictured, inset, in a photo from the team’s Facebook page, http://tinyurl.com/FBfindthatsub
A story at Stripes.com (http://tinyurl.com/findthatsub2) explains that the subchaser crew got a call from USS PC-815, under the command of L. Ron Hubbard (yes, the founder of Scientology) that at least one enemy submarine was present. SC-536 arrived and dropped 12 depth charges, and the signalman on a blimp escort confirmed they made a direct hit and sank the target. But the crew was convinced they had also sunk a smaller sub, as well. There was an oil slick and blood on the water, and items from the wreck washed ashore a few days later.
The crew’s report of sinking two subs was denied by Adm. Franck Fletcher. Wood thinks it was a tactic to make people feel the coast was safe during wartime, but to this day, the government insists there was no second sub.
Want to help Robert Wood prove his story? The Oregon Coast Project Team has identified what looks like a structure on the sea floor (pictured), and has set up the GoFundMe page (http://tinyurl.com/findthatsub) to raise money to be able to get a closer look at it.
“Our goal is to tell Mr. Wood’s story and verify the account of the U.S. Navy crewmen that were there,” the website says. “Funds are raised for travel, team lodging, charter boat rental, and equipment. Most of the expedition for the past six years has been covered out of team members’ pockets.”
“There are no plans to disturb the wreck,” the team asserts. “We only wish to bring back the proof, the video, and the story of the search for a submarine.”
— Elleda Wilson