World War II aircraft carrier discovered beneath surface of South Pacific

Honiara: Aircraft carrier USS Wasp, that had not been seen since 1942, has been spotted nearly 14,000 feet below the surface of the South Pacific.

The aircraft was sighted after remote controller research glimpsed the hull of an aircraft carrier. The sighting follows the discovery of another World War II-era shipwreck, the USS Hornet, which sank not far away, off the Solomon Islands by Research Vessel Petrel, funded by the late Microsoft founder Paul Allen.

Many other dozens of wrecks of ships that once flew the flags of the American, British, Japanese and Italian navies have also been discovered by the Petrel in recent years, CNN reported.

Consisting a crew of 10, the Petrel sits on the surface plotting the last known locations of old warships and sending robots to the depths to rediscover them.

According to the US Navy’s policy of leaving its shipwrecks untouched — considering them as the sailors’ hallowed graves — the Wasp’s hull will remain in the murky depths.

According to a US Navy account, it was back then in April 1942 when the USS Wasp arrived to supply a badly needed contingent of dozens of warplanes to the beleaguered Allied forces at Malta. Under fire, the aircraft carrier retreated to a safe harbour in Gibraltar.

However, in September 1942, a Japanese submarine fired a number of torpedoes, two of which had hit two ships — USS O’Brien and the USS North Carolina. A few of them had struck Wasp’s hull, leading to a massive blaze. The Wasp’s impact was so severe that it did not remain afloat for long and sank thereafter.

Retired Rear Admiral Samuel Cox, who leads the US Naval History and Heritage Command, said in a statement, “Wasp represented the US Navy at the lowest point after the start of WWII.”

“Her pilots and her aircrew, with their courage and sacrifice, were the ones that held the line against the Japanese when the Japanese had superior fighter aircraft, superior torpedo planes and better torpedoes,” he added.