A deep sea exploration team responsible for locating a string of World War II shipwrecks across the Pacific has uncovered yet another major find, the aircraft carrier USS Wasp. Wasp was sunk in late 1942 by submarine while covering the U.S. Marine Corps landings at Guadalcanal. The submarine, lost for nearly 80 years, was found in almost 14,000 feet of water.
In the early days of World War II, the United States didn’t have a lot of aircraft carriers to go around. The armed forces gambled on Operation Watchtower, a joint air-land-sea operation in the Solomon Islands, designed to land U.S. Marines and Army troops to evict the Japanese and set up airbases. Securing the Solomons would protect halt Japan’s southern advance towards Australia and New Zealand while setting the groundwork for the beginning of a counteroffensive to push the Japanese all the way back to the Japanese home islands.
On September 15th, 1942 USS Wasp was covering the invasion force when it was struck by six torpedoes launched by the Imperial Japanese Navy submarine I-19. Wasp, which had been built with less armored protection than other aircraft carriers, was struck by three of the torpedoes and sustained heavy damage. In less than an hour, Wasp’s commander, Captain Forrest P. Sherman, gave the abandon ship order. Wasp ultimately sank some eight hours later, the attack costing 176 killed and 366 wounded out of a total crew of 2,162.
In recent years, an undersea exploration team assembled by the late Microsoft founder Paul Allen has found a number of World War II wrecks, including USS Juneau, USS Ward, USS Lexington, USS Helena and USS Indianapolis. In February it was announced Allen’s research ship, R/V Petrel, had discovered the aircraft carrier USS Hornet, followed by the Imperial Japanese Navy battleship Hiei.
Now it’s been revealed that Petrel discovered wreckage from Wasp on January 13th, 2019 in the Coral Sea, halfway between Australia and New Guinea. The carrier lies in 13,780 feet of water. Who knows what else the Petrel might find.
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