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The USS TURNER Shipwreck  New York and New Jersey's Wreck Valley

Historical and current New York and New Jersey Shipwreck Information and images for scuba divers and fisherman.

USS Turner Shipwreck   

The U.S.S. Turner was a Bristol class destroyer built in Kearny, New Jersey, in November, 1942.  Commissioned on April 15, 1943, she was 350 feet by 36 feet and weighed 1,700 tons. Her armament consisted of 4 five inch guns, 10 torpedo tubes and both 20 mm and 40 mm anti-aircraft guns.

 On January 3, 1944, at 6:18 AM, while sitting at anchor about four miles off shore, an explosion tore a tremendous hole in her port side up near the bow.  At the same time, the explosion's force brought down the ship's mast destroying all communications and killing all or most of her officers. The NEW YORK TIMES reports " The engine room filled with smoke, but the men stayed at their stations, groping about, some choking, their eyes bloodshot. They kept up enough pressure to work the ship's fire hose".

 Back on shore at the Coast Guard station in Sandy Hook, New Jersey, Coxswain F. Williams happened to witness the destroyer's explosion. He set off the general quarters' alarm and within minutes an 83 foot sub chaser, a 77 foot CGR Boat and a pilot boat were all on their way for the rescue mission.  When the rescuers arrived, they all worked heroically under exploding artillery shells which were set off by fires on the Turner.  Soon after, all survivors, totalling 163 men, were removed.  The Turner exploded a second time.  This explosion was so tremendous that its concussion broke house windows up and down the New Jersey and  Long Island coasts.  Moments later, with a sudden hissing sound, the Turner sank beneath the surface.

 Although the death toll was never announced because of war time restrictions, there must have been about 30 to 40 lives lost.  The Turners official cause of sinking was listed as "Due to defective ammunition," but it is believed she was most likely torpedoed by a German submarine.

 A few years back, an oil tanker scraped her belly on the Turner wreck.  The resulting oil spill and headlines prompted the Government to partially salvage the Turner and to reduce the amount of wreckage.  After this action was taken, the Turner was no longer a hazard to navigation.

 Today, the Turner lies in several piles of debris, leaving no recognizable shapes.  She rests five miles out of Debs Inlet in 50 to 58 feet of water and proves to be a good in shore wreck for both fishing and diving. Bill Campbell and I have made many dives to the Turner. Most were at night in search of lobsters, but on one daylight dive, we decided to dig in the sand on the western edge of her wreckage. Surprisingly, we recovered some old blob top bottles. They were too old to be from the Turner, and we have not yet been back for further investigation.  







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