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Wisconsin Maritime Museum tells story of formerly lost USS Robalo submarine

Published on: 01/04/2023


MANITOWOC (WLUK) -- An effort to highlight the history of World War II and the contributions from the area takes center stage at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc.

The presentation is called "On Eternal Patrol: Finding the wreck of the USS Robalo."

The submarine was one of 28 built in Manitowoc. It was lost in the Pacific while serving our country.

Launched on May 9, 1943, the USS Robalo would soon be on her way to war, operating in the Pacific Theater, until July 2, 1944, off the coast of the Philippines.

"The last contact with the boat, they said they had sighted some Japanese vessels, and then that was the last that was heard of them. There were reports that the boat was lost, but that was all conjecture," said Catherine Green, Wisconsin Maritime Museum Executive Director.

That was until Neil "Snake" Krumbeck launched an expedition to find the Robalo. In 2019, he did.

"Basically painting the bottom of the ocean with sound and looking for things that stood out, right? And so a 311-foot submarine would stand out. And when they did their dives to test what they had found, indeed, it was Robalo," said Green.

Project GATO and Sea Scan Survey Team provided the footage. Green says Robalo was found in about 230 feet of water.

"Anytime a wreck hunter, historian, archeologist comes across a new discovery like this, it's exciting," she said.

The Robalo has something in common with the maritime museum's restored jewel, the USS Cobia. They are both GATO-class submarines. The museum program coordinator says that adds perspective to the presentation.

"It's so cool to look at a feature on the submarine, and then go, 'Oh, it's just the thing that's outside this window.' And you can actually see parts of the submarine. And Snake's going to talk about certain aspects of the submarine that you can literally look outside and also see the corresponding thing on the Cobia." said Caroline Diemer, Wisconsin Maritime Museum Program Coordinator.

Museum leaders say the discovery is significant and brings some closure to the 81 crew members and their families.

"We're so happy to be a part of putting this final piece together, to tell the story of Robalo," said Green.

The presentation is Thursday and is free to the public. There is also an online option.

Author : Eric Peterson

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