‘Amazingly in­tact’ WWII air­craft car­rier found in Pa­cific

The China Post - - LIFE -

Ex­perts have dis­cov­ered a World War II US air­craft car­rier that is “amazingly in­tact” de­spite lan­guish­ing on the bot­tom of the Pa­cific for more than 60 years.

The ship is up­right, list­ing only slightly and may even have an plane in­side

The for­mer USS In­de­pen­dence is rest­ing in 2,600 feet ( 800 me­ters) of wa­ter off Cal­i­for­nia’s Far­al­lon Is­lands with its hull and flight deck very well pre­served and clearly vis­i­ble, sci­en­tists with the Na­tional Oceanic and At­mo­spheric Ad­min­is­tra­tion ( NOAA) said Thurs­day.

There also ap­pears to be a plane in the han­gar bay of the ves­sel, the lead ship of its class of light air­craft car­ri­ers that were vi­tal dur­ing the Amer­i­can naval of­fen­sive in the Pa­cific.

“Af­ter 64 years on the seafloor, In­de­pen­dence sits on the bot­tom as if ready to launch its planes,” said James Del­gado, chief sci­en­tist on the mission and mar­itime her­itage direc­tor for NOAA’s Of­fice of Na­tional Marine Sanc­tu­ar­ies.

“This ship fought a long, hard war in the Pa­cific and af­ter the war was sub­jected to two atomic blasts that ripped through the ship.

“It is a re­minder of the industrial might and skill of the ‘great­est gen­er­a­tion’ that sent not only this ship, but their loved ones to war.”

The car­rier is one of an es­ti­mated 300 wrecks in the wa­ters off San Fran­cisco and the deep­est known ship­wreck in the sanc­tu­ary, the NOAA said.

In­de­pen­dence op­er­ated in the cen­tral and west­ern Pa­cific from Novem­ber 1943 to Au­gust 1945 and later was one of more than 90 ves­sels as­sem­bled as a tar­get fleet for atomic bomb tests in 1946 in the Mar­shall Is­lands.

Dam­aged by shock waves, heat and ra­di­a­tion, In­de­pen­dence sur- vived the tests and re­turned to the United States.

It was moored in San Fran­cisco un­til age caught up with her and she was towed out to sea for scut­tling in Jan­uary 1951.

In­de­pen­dence was found as part of a two-year NOAA mission to lo­cate his­toric ship­wrecks in the Gulf of the Far­al­lones Na­tional Marine Sanc­tu­ary and nearby wa­ters.

Ex­perts last month used an au­ton­o­mous un­der­wa­ter ve­hi­cle, Echo Ranger, made by Boe­ing, to sur­vey the In­de­pen­dence.

There are no plans at the mo­ment to try and get in­side the ves­sel, Del­gado said.

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