Sunken Japanese Carrier Discovered
A Japanese aircraft carrier lost during the Battle of Midway has been discovered 5,400 meters below the surface of the Central Pacific by the crew of R/V Petrel.
IJN Kaga, part of the six-fleet carrier that launched planes that attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, was scuttled by the Japanese on June 4, 1942 after being attacked by approximately 30 dive bombers and two torpedoes launched by the USS Nautilus. After efforts to keep the ship alive, the remaining crew realized the damage was beyond repair, and the escorting destroyer Hagikaze launched two torpedoes at the ship to effectively scuttle it. Of the crew members on board, 814 were killed as a result of the battle.
Along with Kaga, three other Japanese fleet carriers – Akagi, Sōryū and Hiryū – were sunk during the battle.
The crew aboard R/V Petrel, a high-tech research vessel owned by the estate of late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, spent several weeks surveying the massive area, documenting more than 500 square nautical miles, all within the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument.
“This project is significantly different from previous missions as it required a level of investigation, analysis and survey of a carrier-based engagement initially separated by over 150 nautical miles, a total area covering thousands of square nautical miles,” said Robert Kraft, director of subsea operations for Vulcan Inc. “It was a major carrier-to-carrier battle that left its eerie evidence strewn for thousands of miles across the ocean floor. With each piece of debris and each ship we discover and identify, our intent is to honor history and those who served and paid the ultimate sacrifice for their countries.”
Over the past several years, the R/V Petrel team, and its unique technology, has been dedicated to finding and documenting historic shipwrecks with a focus on World War II.
Read more about the technology used by the R/V Petrel team here.