5 Mar 2015

Military team to recover remains of sailor from WWII shipwreck

8:14 pm on 5 March 2015

A team of more than 20 United States military personnel has started an operation to recover the remains of a sailor trapped in a sunken ship off Vanuatu since the Second World War.

SS President Coolidge US Navy Warship. Sunk during World War II on the 26th of October 1942 in Santo Vanuatu. More than 5300 troops managed to evacuate but two men lost their lives.

The SS President Coolidge before it sank. Photo: RNZI Courtesy of Kevin Green and Santo Dive

Captain Elwood Joseph Euart of the US Army Field Artillery is believed to be entombed inside the troop ship, SS President Coolidge, which ran into mines at the harbour in Espiritu Santo in October 1942.

The ship hit the reef and eventually sank to a depth of about 52 metres.

Malcolm Davies of Santo Dive is assisting the recovery team.

"A Captain Eaurt went back to assist removing people from the infirmary who couldn't get off the ship. He unfortunately died after saving the people there. The remains have been on the ship ever since and approximately two years ago what we believe are his remains were found."

Malcolm Davies says if Captain Euart's remains are recovered they will be flown to Hawaii for further analysis.