Even after a war in the Pacific and two atomic blasts, the sunken World War 2 aircraft carrier known as the USS Independence looks “amazingly intact.” Experts surmise the carrier’s resilience is the product of the “greatest” generation’s industrial abilities.
According to Wired, the USS Independence was launched in 1942 to fight in the Pacific during World War 2. After the war, authorities sent it to the Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands where it was used as a target ship for atomic tests. The carrier sustained heavy damaged from the bombs’ shock waves.
It was brought back to Hunters Point Naval Shipyard in San Francisco to study decontamination. By 1951, fears grew that the aircraft carrier would sink. So authorities scuttled the vessel close to the Farallon Islands, 30 miles off the California coast. SF Gate reports that two 55-gallon drums filled with an unknown substance, possibly radioactive waste, were loaded onto the carrier before sending it to the ocean floor.
Now, 64 years later and the World War 2-era ship looks like it’s still intact.
Scientists discovered the sunken carrier using an unmanned submersible drone, called an echo ranger. From the information they managed to take a 3D picture of the wreck.
James Delgado, chief scientist on the Independence mission, explained it looks just fine.
“After 64 years on the seafloor, Independence sits on the bottom as if ready to launch its planes. 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.”
The ship is reportedly upright and leaning slightly to the starboard side.
Delgado added, “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. This boat was built to take a pounding and the fact that it’s still together is pretty remarkable.”
The find is part of a two-year survey looking for sunken ships around the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. The sanctuary is home to whales, sharks and the largest breeding seabird rookery in the continental U.S. It covers an area of 3,300 square feet, and the Independence is just one of the roughly 300 vessels believed to be scattering the sea floor.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, the sanctuary isn’t the only part of the Pacific littered with sunken World War 2 ships. A Japanese submarine was recently discovered off the coast of Hawaii, just one of the four found near the islands.
As for the Independence, there are no plans to try to lift the vessel to the surface. Likewise, the water provides sufficient insulation, so the public is not at risk from the radioactive aircraft carrier. Nevertheless, the sunken aircraft carrier might leak contaminates that will cause harm to local sea life in the future, but at least for now researchers know exactly where the ship is and can monitor its deterioration.
[Image Credit: Getty Images]