An underwater survey mission aimed at exploring crucial shipwrecks from the Second World War’s Battle of Midway ended this week, yielding significant results. Involving archaeological assessments of 3 Second World War Aircraft Carriers that went missing in the Battle, this mission was one of its kind.
Video Credits: EVNautilus
It offered stunning images of the 1st visual survey of Imperial Japanese Navy Akagi, a detailed view of the USS Yorktown since it was located 25 years ago and a survey of the IJN Kaga.
The survey documented, examined and honoured these historic shipwrecks and all those who lost their lives in the battle. The visual surveys were completed by an expert team in 3 deployments below 5100 metres.
Daniel Wagner, PhD, Chief Scientist for Ocean Exploration Trust, said, “This expedition is not only rewriting history and our understanding of these special places but also pushing the limits of what we thought was possible in terms of interdisciplinary collaboration.”
He also added that during the 43 hours the teams spent documenting these shipwrecks, they recorded many findings like the ship’s armament, features and damage incurred when they sank, including details about their final moments.
The Battle of Midway, which continued from June 4th to 7th, 1942, near Midway Island, Pacific, was a decisive battle that crippled the Japanese forces and paved the U.S path to victory.
It happened 6 months after the Pearl Harbour attack and a month after the U.S prevented Japanese advance in the Coral Sea but lost the battle.
In the Battle of Midway, Japan lost 4 aircraft carriers: Akagi, Kaga, Soryu and Hiryu, including the cruiser Mikuma. The U.S deployed 3 carriers in this battle, lost Yorktown and Destroyer Hammann, but carriers USS Enterprise and USS Hornet survived.
Guided by Ocean Exploration Trust, the team on the exploration vessel Nautilus undertook this unique survey mission from September 8-12, 2023, at these ships’ resting locations in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument (PMNM), the biggest protected area in the U.S. and one of the biggest in the world.
As long as the mission continued, video surveys were streamed live through NautilusLive.org for the general public.
Samuel Cox, Director of the Naval History and Heritage Command, said, “An important part of our mission here at the Naval History and Heritage Command is to locate, interpret, and protect lost U.S. Navy ships and aircraft, particularly those that represent the last resting place of American sailors.”
He expressed his gratitude towards Ocean Exploration Trust and NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration for collaborating with them in this vital mission.
This survey mission represents many key milestones. It was the first time anyone saw the Japanese aircraft carrier IJN Akagi since it sank in 1942. This ship was found in a mapping survey by Vulcan in 2019. In the survey mission, the E/V Nautilus team surveyed and examined the ship for 14 hours, documenting everything from collision damage to its structure.
It was the first time the world saw the USS Yorktown in real-time, 25 years after it was first discovered in a Joint U.S Navy and National Geographic Society Expedition.
The team also conducted the first detailed archaeological survey of Kaga after the carrier was first located in 2019.
References: Nautiluslive.org, WN.com
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