Deep-sea explorers have reported finding two Japanese warships that sank during a major battle in World War II.
Explorers and researchers used a robotic underwater vehicle to help with their search in the northern Pacific Ocean. The vehicle is equipped with sonar, which measures sound waves to create images.
The team told The Associated Press (AP) it discovered a warship after examining sonar images collected from the vehicle on Sunday. The team said it appears the sunken ship is the Japanese aircraft carrier Akagi.
The wreckage was found near Midway Atoll, an island about 2,100 kilometers northwest of Hawaii.
A private research ship, the Petrel, is leading the exploration. A private American company, Vulcan Inc., is providing support. Vulcan was started by Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft Corporation. Allen died last year.
Rob Kraft is head of Vulcan’s undersea operations. He told The Associated Press that based on the data collected, his team is sure they found the aircraft carrier.
“It can be none other than Akagi,” he said.
Kraft added that the warship was sitting among a pile of wreckage and the surrounding ground was heavily affected by the ship hitting the seafloor.
The Akagi was the second warship found in the area. Last week, the Petrel research team reported finding another Japanese aircraft carrier, the Kaga.
Sonar images of the Kaga showed it was in a similar condition. The front of the carrier is thought to have hit the seafloor at a high rate of speed, creating a large crater and spreading debris in the area.
During the battle, bombs struck the Kaga, causing a massive fire. Yet sonar images show that the ship stayed mostly together when it sank.
Historians consider the Battle of Midway in 1942 an important victory for the United States during World War II.
American and Japanese aircraft carriers and warplanes fought the battle about 320 kilometers off Midway Atoll. At the time, the atoll was home to a U.S. military base that provided naval and air support against the Japanese.
Japan’s military had planned to capture Midway Atoll in a surprise attack. But U.S. forces gained possession of Japanese communications before the attack and were waiting when the forces arrived. More than 2,000 Japanese and 300 Americans died in the fighting.
Seven ships, five Japanese and two American, sank during the battle. Until now, only one of the seven had been found. The crew of the Petrel is hoping to find all the lost ships.
Robert Kraft said the research ship’s efforts started with Paul Allen and his desire to honor his father’s military service. But he says the project now extends way beyond that beginning.
“We’re honoring today’s service members, it’s about education and, you know, bringing history back to life for future generations,” he said.
Frank Thompson is a historian with the Naval History and Heritage Command in Washington, D.C. He also is part of the Petrel research team.
“We read about the battles, we know what happened,” Thompson told the AP. “But when you see these wrecks on the bottom of the ocean and everything, you kind of get a feel for what the real price is for war.”
He added: “You see the damage these things took, and it’s humbling to watch some of the video of these vessels because they’re war graves.”
I’m Bryan Lynn.
The Associated Press reported on this story. Bryan Lynn adapted the report for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
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Words in This Story
data – n. factual information
pile – n. a number of things put one on top of another or next to each other
crater – n. a big hole in the ground
humbling – adj. feeling less important, less proud
vessel – n. a ship or large boat