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The Lost Ships of Midway

In September 2023, more than 100 scientists from around the world watched as ROV Atalanta descended more than three miles down in the Pacific Ocean in search of the sunken aircraft carriers of the Battle of Midway. The battle, fought over four days in June 1945, was one of the most decisive engagements of the Pacific theater of World War II and gave the United States an advantage against the Japanese forces they had not enjoyed since the attack on Pearl Harbor the previous December. Five carriers—four Japanese and one U.S.—were sunk during the battle, yet only three have been found thus far. To see videos including excerpts of dives on these three carriers, click here

  • An underwater image showing the severe fire damage suffered by the Imperial Japanese Navy aircraft carrier Kaga during the Battle of Midway. (Ocean Exploration Trust, NOAA)
  • Kaga as she looked in 1930 before being retrofitted as an aircraft carrier. (Kure Maritime Museum)
  • A view of the sunken remains of the Imperial Japanese Navy aircraft carrier Akagi taken by ROV Atalanta some 16,000 feet down in the Pacific Ocean. (Ocean Exploration Trust, NOAA)
  • The retrofitted deck of the carrier Akagi as she looked In April 1942. (Kure Maritime Museum)
  • An underwater image of one of USS Yorktown’s guns taken by ROV Atalanta deep beneath the Pacific Ocean. (Ocean Exploration Trust, NOAA)
  • An image of Yorktown taken eight years before she was sunk during the Battle of Midway. (US Navy Archives)

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