Deep dive: Scientists set to explore sunken WWII-era aircraft carrier

A research vessel will explore a ghost from World War II Monday night: a sunken aircraft carrier that served in the war and later withstood nuclear tests at Bikini Atoll.

The USS Independence, a light aircraft carrier, was intentionally sunk off California in 1951, and on Monday evening Eastern time, viewers can tune into to watch scientists explore the ship, which sits in 2,600 feet of water and is reportedly in good shape. The dive is slated to begin between 7 and 9 pm, EDT.

Launched in 1942, the Independence served in the Pacific during the war, carrying planes that attacked Japanese forces. It was even torpedoed, in 1944, but managed to stay afloat, and was repaired.


But after the war ended, the 622-foot-long carrier was subject to nuclear blasts at Bikini Atoll, part of undertaking called Operation Crossroads. The explosions were as close as 560 and 1390 yards to the ship, which eventually, after the tests, was intentionally sunk in what is now the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary near California.

“Resting upright in 2,600 feet of water off California’s Farallon Islands, the aircraft carrier’s hull and flight deck are clearly visible in sonar images, with what appears to be a plane in the carrier’s hangar bay,” according to the National Marine Sanctuaries, a part of NOAA.

The Ocean Exploration Trust, which operates the 210-foot Nautilus, said that it will take an hour or more to get down to the Independence for a dive that will last around 16 hours and is expected to produce photographs and video of the historic ship.

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