The mission of STEP Ventures is to contribute to the discovery and documentation of maritime history through exploration, innovation and preservation.​

Breaking News – US Navy officially identifies WWII submarine S-28 wreck

July 1, 2019 – Today, the US Navy officially identified the submarine wreckage discovered in 2017 with the support of STEP Ventures as the USS S-28.  The STEP Ventures team is proud to have been a part of this effort that provides closure to the family members of the US Navy personnel lost on the S-28. We would also like to thank the US Navy’s History and Heritage Command for their work with Tim Taylor to analyze the data required to make this identification.  More information, can be found at - https://navaltoday.com/2019/07/02/us-navy-officially-identifies-wwii-submarine-s-28-wreck/

Photogrammetry Imagery of the deck gun and bridge of the USS S-28 lost 75 years ago on July 4th, 1944

Expedition 2018: JAPAN
Honoring the men, their memory and their mission

The 2018 Expedition

The 2018 expedition was organized to search for up to eight lost WWII submarines off the eastern seaboard of Japan.

Between August 3rd and September 30th, 2018 the STEP team conducted numerous AUV and ROV surveys off of the RV Ocean Titan in search of the eight lost WWII submarines over 16 pre-defined search areas using state of the art 4500-meter HUGIN AUVs equipped with high resolution sonar.

The 2018 season was interrupted on numerous occasions due to weather, most notably five typhoons.  Additional logistics delays limited the expedition to conducting surveys for only two lost US submarines, USS SCAMP (SS-277 and USS TRIGGER (SS-237), in the high probability search areas.  Due to a limited operational season, the expedition was unable to discover any wreckage.

In late September 2018, while returning to the US from their 2018 expedition to Japan, the STEP team conducted a search for the yet undiscovered bow section of the USS GRUNION (SS-216) in the waters off Kiska, Alaska.  Using data provided by the Abele family, (the family of Commanding Officer of USS GRUNION at the time of its loss), that located the stern section of the USS GRUNION, the STEP team was able to locate and document the condition of the bow section.  STEP is in the process of reviewing the data on the bow section and plans to turn it over to the Abele family and the US Navy for their use in further understanding the circumstances of the loss of the USS GRUNION.

Sonar image of bow section of USS GRUNION (SS-216)

Still photograph of bow section of USS GRUNION (SS-216)

Sub-sea Exploration

STEP Ventures represents a close-knit company of explorers and historians who share a passion in locating submerged cultural resources.  STEP Ventures, in partnership with the Lost 52 Project, is committed to honoring and preserving the memory of lost mariners, submariners, airmen, and service platforms.    

STEP aims to answer longstanding questions and seeks to advance the state-of-the-art in marine research and exploration using the latest technologies and data analytic methods.

It is from the most sacred of these projects that STEP derives its name, Searching for Those on Eternal Patrol.

USS Lyon County

Documented in 2017

USS LST-904 / USS Lyon County was an LST-542-class tank landing ship that served in the Far East in World War II (Sep-Dec 1945). She was awarded 1 battle star for her service and sunk as a target on 13 May 1959.

Though several surface photographs of USS Lyon County have been preserved, no sub-sea images of this vessel existed prior its discovery and documentation by STEP Ventures. Although the search for this vessel was conducted as part of a training activity in preparation for a more complicated exploration, it turned out to be a more challenging undertaking than anyone expected and a joy to work on for all involved! 

Somewhat surprisingly, the reported depth profiles and geographic coordinates of this vessel, as recorded in the public domain, were kilometers off-base. Upon discovering no wreck at the expected location, STEP proceeded to systematically expand its search pattern and then tracked a directional debris field to ultimately discover and document the USS Lyon County's final resting place.  

USS Devilfish

Documented in 2017

The USS Devilfish (SS-292) was a Balao class submarine that served in World War II (Dec 1944 - Aug 1945). She was awarded three battle stars for her service and transferred into inactive reserve status in April 1946. On 14 August 1968, the Devilfish was sunk by the USS Wahoo (SS-565) as part of a MK 16 MOD 8 torpedo test.

 

Using the reported wreck location in the public domain, supplemented by an analysis of the deck logs of the USS Wahoo from the test date, STEP was able to quickly locate the USS Devilfish wreckage at a depth of over 3,500 meters. The forward and aft sections of the USS Devilfish are separated by nearly 2 NM and located almost 3 NM from the location reported in the public domain.

EXPEDITION 2017: HAWAII

USS S-28

The USS S-28 (SS-133) commissioned December 13, 1923 and spent 16 years taking part in various Navy exercises in the Caribbean and eventually in the Pacific. When the bombs fell on December 7th, she was being overhauled at Mare Island Naval Shipyard outside of San Francisco, California. She was one of several S-boats that were put into service in World War II and was initially sent to Alaska to defend the Aleutians against a possible Japanese invasion. With 49 US sailors on-board, the USS S-28 was lost during a naval training exercise of the coast of Oahu on July 4, 1944.

EXPEDITION 2018: Japan and Alaska

USS GRUNION (SS-2016) 

The USS Grunion (SS-216) was commissioned April 11, 1942 and began her first war patrol off the Aleutian Islands where she sank two enemy patrol boats before being sunk by her own torpedo during an attack on a Japanese merchant ship. The 2018 STEP funded expedition located the bow section of USS Grunion which completed the earlier discovery of the larger stern section in 2007 by an expedition led by the family of her commanding officer. Additional searches off the coast of Eastern Japan for USS SCAMP (SS-277 and USS TRIGGER (SS-237) were hampered by weather and did not result in any further discoveries.

Key Associates

Donald T. "Boysie" Bollinger

A native of Lockport, Louisiana, Mr. Bollinger devotes considerable time to professional and civic organizations including the Shipbuilders Council of America and National Ocean Industries Association. After hurricanes Katrina and Rita, he served with the Louisiana Recovery Authority and Bring New Orleans Back Commission. Mr. Bollinger is involved with the United States Coast Guard Foundation, The National World War II Museum, Offshore Marine Services Association, Business Council of New Orleans, The Nature Conservatory of Louisiana, United Way, and the Boy Scouts of America. Mr. Bollinger and his wife Joy have generously donated to the World War II Museum of New Oreans, which stands alone in its collections and exhibits and is designated by the US Congress as America's official National World War II Museum.

For more information, check out the “Lost 52 Project"

Tim Taylor

Tim Taylor has spent the last twenty-five years exploring the oceans and collaborating with noted geologists, marine biologists, archaeologists, and coral and shark scientists. He has led scientific expeditions from his research vessel, RV Tiburon, working with Mote Marine Lab, Scripts, University of Miami, NOAA, National Geographic, National Science Foundation and the US Navy. He was inducted as a fellow into the Explorers Club in 2004 for his discovery of Sherwood Forrest in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuaries. In 2008 Mr. Taylor received the Explorers Club "Citation of Merit" for his contributions to exploration. Over the past decade, his focus has been on utilization of robotic technology in underwater expeditions. His discoveries include three US WWII Submarines, the USS R-12 and USS S-26 and S-28 with a total 137 servicemen entombed. He is the recipient of the Brazil Navy League's Medal-of-Honor and was awarded the Brazilian Navy's title of Honorary Submariner for his work on the R-12, in which 2 Brazilian officers are on eternal patrol. Tim has been profiled in the London Financial Times, The New York Times, Bloomberg News and is a regular contributor on FOX, CNBC, BBC, CBC and CNN as an ocean technology and robotics expert.

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