The Navy Department Library
Statement concerning USS Lagarto
The Naval History and Heritage Command (NHCC) was notified on 1 June 2005 that divers had located what is believed to be the wreck of USS Lagarto in the Gulf of Thailand, in approximately 70 meters of water. It was reported that the submarine appeared to be intact with no visible damage. The NHC subsequently learned that a dive company in Thailand, under the direction of Mr. Jamie Macleod, was the group that had located the submarine. The NHC contacted Mr. Macleod to thank him for locating what might be Lagarto, and informed him of the U.S. Government’s position that the wreck should not be disturbed in any way, and that as a war grave, it should be treated with dignity, honor, and respect. Mr. Macleod assured the NHC that he had no intention of disturbing the wreck. He stated that he plans to conduct a video survey of the submarine and has agreed to provide NHC with copies of the video as well as any other images of the wreck. At present, the Navy has no plans to visit the wreck site. The Navy considers the sea a proper burial place for its fallen Sailors and Marines. This is in keeping with historic and traditional customs of the sea.
The U.S. State Department and the Naval Attaché in Bangkok are aware of this situation and have informed the government of Thailand of its position concerning non-disturbance of the wreck. A new law titled the Sunken Military Craft Act was passed last year that affords sunken U.S. military ships and submerged aircraft wrecks protection from unauthorized disturbance. The law is posted on the NHHC website. Additional information on Navy policy regarding custody and management of sunken naval vessels and aircraft wreck sites, as well as a listing of appropriate Federal laws and regulations is available on the Naval History and Heritage Command's web site.
The Navy and the nation honor the memory the men who perished on Lagarto and all those who have given their lives in the service of the United States. The Waterfront Memorial, located at the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park, pays tribute to USS Lagarto and 51 other submarines and their crewmembers that were lost during World War II with engraved plagues that list the names of each submarine along with the names of the crewmembers that gave their lives during the war.