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Navy and Industry Collaborate for Historical Find

Press Release

February 20, 2001
For Immediate Release
Contact Person:

Lynn Jourdan 207.967.0666

Navy and Industry Collaborate for Historical Find

Hanover, MD – A combined team from the Naval Oceanographic Office and Nauticos Corporation of Hanover, Maryland has found wreckage from at least one of the four Japanese aircraft carriers sunk at the Battle of Midway. Preliminary review of the debris revealed a possible piece of hull that is stuck in the ocean bottom vertically.

Working together under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) signed last year, the group collected sonar imagery and videotape of the debris. The discovery was made while at sea on the Navy oceanographic ship USNS SUMNER (T-AGS-61) this past September. This operation was an opportunity to save money and gain significant insight into one of the US Navy’s finest moments by taking advantage of a ship, equipment, and personnel that were already operating in the western Pacific. This team was specifically going to confirm contacts they had identified during a May 1999 trip to the area.

The May operation, onboard the Research Vessel MELVILLE, was conducted primarily to survey a fleet exercise area and demonstrate the performance of the Navy’s recently modified SEAMAP acoustic imaging system. However, if the opportunity presented itself, the team would also attempt to locate the Japanese carriers. During this trip several interesting contacts on the ocean floor were found, but could not be positively identified.

As part of the preparation for these operations, Nauticos conducted detailed archival research and performed an in-depth re-navigation analysis (RENAVTM) of several ships involved in the WWII battle, yielding a more accurate search datum and effective search plan. The man made debris was located after only two days of search, allowing the team to conduct more detailed and extensive mapping during the available time at sea.

KAGA, AKAGI, SORYU, and HIRYU — pride of the 1942 Imperial Navy– lie beneath some three miles of water. Concluding with the destruction of these four Japanese aircraft carriers, the Battle of Midway was unquestionably the turning point of WWII in the Pacific. Midway will be chronicled in history as an epic victory, one which demonstrated that good intelligence and dedicated patriots can persevere against overwhelming military odds.

More details will be released after further analysis of the data collected.