Wreckage of the naval destroyer USS Jacob Jones found by divers off the coast of England

Divers off the coast of England believe they have found the wreckage of an American destroyer that was sunk by a torpedo from a German submarine during the height of hostilities in World War I.

The US Naval History and Heritage Command announced on Friday that Darkstar, a group of experienced divers from the UK, has found wreckage of the USS Jacob Jones off the southwestern tip of England.

The ship was tasked with patrolling and escorting convoys around the United Kingdom from May 1917 until the sinking on 6 December.

The destroyer was 60 miles off the coast of England, near the English Channel, when a torpedo struck three feet below the waterline.

Historians said that in the eight minutes sailors had until the ship sank, less than half of the crew had found shelter aboard emergency rafts.

Only 46 of the 110 crew members are believed to have survived the attack.

The USS Jacob Jones sank off the coast of England after being hit by torpedoes.
Naval History and Heritage Command

The NHHC says that after the sinking, a German U-boat commander rescued two POWs from the cold waters and radioed a nearby US base that rescue ships were needed.

Because of the speed at which the more than 1,000-ton destroyer sank, its final resting place was a mystery for more than a century.

British divers estimate the ship is at a depth of 400 feet and said they did not remove any objects from the wreck during the recent excursion.

Surviving members of the USS Jacob Jones.
The surviving crew of the USS Jacob Jones.
Naval History and Heritage Command

Historians consider the destroyer a workhorse and responsible for rescuing hundreds of survivors from torpedoed ships before suffering a similar fate.

At the end of the war in November 1918, Germany would be responsible for the sinking of more than 5,000 merchant ships and about 100 warships.

Historians say that despite the efforts, the German forces were unable to overcome the naval capabilities and massive numbers of the Allies.

The divers plan to work with the US Embassy to determine the next steps for the ship.

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