US Navy aircraft carrier discovered 'amazingly intact' on Pacific Ocean floor after 60 years

Experts have rediscovered the “amazingly intact” wreck of a World War II era aircraft carrier that has been sitting on the floor of the Pacific Ocean for over 60 years.

The USS Independence is resting upright in 2,600 feet of water, with only a slight list and may even have an aircraft inside.

The historic light aircraft carrier’s flight deck and hull appear to be intact and there appears to be in the hangar bay, scientists with the National Ocean and Atmosphere Administration have said.

The Independence was the lead vessel of a class of warship that was vital to the US naval offence in the Pacific during the Second World War, and took part in nuclear bomb testing after the war.

Credit: Coda Octopus/NOAA

James Delgado, chief scientist on the mission and maritime heritage director for NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, said:

After 64 years on the seafloor, Independence sits on the bottom as if ready to launch its planes,"

James Delgado, NOAA

Now one of over 300 wrecks in a maritime sanctuary area off the California coast, Independence operated in the central and western Pacific from November 1943 to August 1945 and later was one of the 90 vessels assembled at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands for two atomic bomb tests.

The explosion of the Baker atom bomb test at Bikini Atoll in 1946. Credit: US Navy/Dept. of Defense.

Damaged by shock waves, heat and radiation, Independence survived the tests and returned to the United States.

She was moored in San Francisco until old age finally caught up with her and she was towed out to sea to be scuttled January 1951.

As part of a two year programme to locate historic shipwrecks in the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, Independence was found using Boeing’s robotic underwater vehicle, Echo Ranger, and high resolution 3D sonar made by British firm Coda Octopus.