Case File: Lost Submarine
Location: Several miles off the coast of San Francisco Bay, California
Date: March 21, 1945
Description: Unrevealed. The submarine is believed to be a lost United States Submarine.
History: During the middle of World War II between 1944 and 1945, the USS Willard Keith was one of many United States Navy destroyers patrolling the Pacific coast. Those on board spent most of their time practicing with K-guns, or depth charges. However, on March 21, 1945, the ship was sailing near San Francisco when a general quarters alarm sounded; an enemy sub was below them. Chet Gardner, then nineteen, had the duty of setting the depth of the explosive charges. After the depth was set, the charges were sent and hit the submarine. A tremendous explosion occurred and Chet noticed an oil slick from the submarine.
Eugene Sheridan, then twenty-four, manned one of the K-guns. He also saw the oil slick coming up to the water. However, when they turned around, they could not pick up the submarine on sonar. The submarine was believed to have belonged to the Japanese. Bill Anderson, then eighteen, was skeptical that it was an enemy sub and questioned a junior officer about it. However, the officer dismissed his suspicions.
Years later, the thought that they hit an American submarine still haunts the crewmen of the USS Willard Keith. Recently, Anderson requested the deck log and war diary for the ship. When he received these items, he found that there was no record for the sinking of that submarine. In fact, there were no records at all of a submarine hit off of the California coast. Decades later, the crew of the USS Willard Keith believe that the submarine that they sank was a US submarine, and that the military covered it up.
Several divers between Santa Barbara and San Francisco have claimed to have seen a submarine, possibly a U-boat, in the water. Now, a salvage expedition is investigating off the San Francisco coast in order to find and identify the mystery submarine.
Investigations: In 1992, Bill Anderson and a partner bought a boat and began searching for the submarine. However, no trace of the submarine has been found.
Extra Notes: The case was featured as a part of the January 13, 1995 episode.
- Is there a sunken Japanese sub from WWII off the coast?
- Mystery Submarine Off Golden Gate Bridge
- Website for USS Willard Keith