18 September 2023
Robert Ballard’s Ocean Exploration Trust has unveiled the first visual survey of the IJN Akagi, sunk during the epic Battle of Midway
The wreck of the IJN Akagi was discovered in 2019 but this is the first time that it has been surveyed by video on the ocean floor. The Ocean Exploration Trust is headed by Robert Ballard who discovered the wreck of the Titanic and the German battleship Bismarck. The wreck is 17,000ft down on the sea bed and was first found by Vulcan Inc with the US Navy, in 2019 during a mapping expedition. On September 10, 2023, the E/V Nautilus team spent 14 hours surveying the Akagi wreck, examining battle damage in the ship’s structure. And that caused when the ship hit the bottom. The dive observed protocol ceremonies to honour all who lost their lives in ways that reflected their significance to Kānaka ʻOiwi (Native Hawaiian), Japanese, and U.S. military families and communities.
The Akagi was severely damaged at the Battle of Midway by dive bombers from the American aircraft carrier Enterprise. It was during the final attack that an American bomb landed at the edge of the middle elevator and detonated in the upper hangar, starting a fire amongster the armed and fulled B5N torpedo bombers getting readied for action. The result was an fire that raged out of control, and the Akagi was scuttled the next morning.
These historic, non-invasive, visual survey dives were conducted during the E/V Nautilus Ala ʻAumoana Kai Uli expedition, a 27-day mission to explore deep-water habitats in the northwestern section of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM). PMNM is a UNESCO World Heritage site distinguished for both its cultural and natural significance, and is the only such site in the USA.
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