California marine explorers turned their attention to the WWII wreck of an aircraft carrier that had been deliberately sunk 65 years ago near the shores of San Francisco Bay.
The USS Independence made its way through World War II missions, and it was assigned to participate in the Bikini Atoll atomic tests. Then, the ship was transferred to San Francisco at the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard where it was the subject of decontamination studies. In the end, in 1951 the aircraft carrier was scuttled someplace near the Farallon Islands.
In 2015, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration discovered the WWII wreck during its sonar mapping of the area. The scientists were amazed that the ship was almost intact despite the fact that it stayed under 2,600 feet of water for sixty years.
“When we do these missions, we are obtaining hard scientific results, but also these shipwrecks speak to you in a powerful way when you encounter them. They cease to be imaged in books or newsreels,” said NOAA’s maritime heritage director James Delgado.
The researchers plan to collect photomosaic images and microbathymetry data from the aircraft carrier, by using autonomous underwater vehicles and the research ship Nautilus. The analysis will be made by two unmanned submersibles that are owned by the Ocean Exploration Trust.
The flight deck and the hull of the USS Independence are visible in the sonar images, and the ship even has one of its planes in the hangar bay.
The USS Independence was used to protect the western and central Pacific from the Japanese navy. The aircraft carrier was also involved in the Battle of Gulf which took place in 1944, where it sank the remaining ships of the Japanese Mobile Fleet.
After the war, the USS Independence took part of Operation Crossroads in the Pacific, where it was the target of the atomic bomb testing. While it was placed only one-half mile from the atomic explosion which was blasted on the 1st of July, the ship did not sink.
As the initial nuclear testing did not submerge the aircraft carrier, the commanders of the operation continued the explosions and on the 25th of July, another bomb was aimed at the old USS Independence. That was the final exercise for the ship, as since then it was decommissioned and only served as a scientific study.
The researchers that soon after took the USS Independence in custody looked for evidence of the impact of the atomic blast in the radioactive hull of the ship. After they had been done with their investigation, the aircraft carrier was sunk near the California coast, and since then no one ever had any news on the veteran warship.
Image Source: Wikipedia