Researchers Find Japanese WWII Aircraft Carrier Destroyed in the Battle of Midway - 21/10/2019

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Deep-sea explorers scouring the world’s oceans for sunken Second World War ships have uncovered the wreck of a Japanese aircraft carrier destroyed in the Battle of Midway. Fought on June 1942, the clash saw US aircraft carriers ambush their Japanese enemies and sink all four opposing Imperial Navy (IJN) flattops, thanks partly to intelligence gained through intercepted communications. The crew of the research vessel Petrel, in conjunction with the US Navy, revealed on Friday that it had found the Japanese carrier Kaga 350 miles (560 km) northwest of Midway Island, lying at a depth of 5.4km. This week, the crew is sending robots into the deep to investigate what may be another wreck site.

Pacific War

Kaga was an aircraft carrier built for the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN). The ship figured prominently in the development of the IJN's carrier striking force doctrine, which grouped carriers together to give greater mass and concentration to their air power. A revolutionary strategic concept at the time, the employment of the doctrine was crucial in enabling Japan to attain its initial strategic goals during the first six months of the Pacific War.


Following repairs, Kaga rejoined the 1st Air Fleet for the Battle of Midway in June 1942. After bombarding American forces on Midway Atoll, Kaga and three other IJN carriers were attacked by American aircraft from Midway and the carriers Enterprise, Hornet, and Yorktown. Dive bombers from Enterprise severely damaged Kaga; when it became obvious she could not be saved, she was scuttled by Japanese destroyers to prevent her from falling into enemy hands.

About the Petrel

The RV Petrel is an underwater research and exploration vessel used specifically to locate historically significant shipwrecks and explore underwater ecosystems. Equipped with the latest state-of-the-art subsea technology, including two onboard robots– an AUV and an ROV – the crew is able to search more than three miles below the sea.

RV Petrel
RV Petrel

RV Petrel and its mission is a public outreach that started over a decade ago with Paul Allen's vision of research, archaeology and discovery, promoting and advocating education, history, and as a tribute to those who serve and came before us. With his guidance and unwavering support, its missions continue to safeguard ocean stewardship in pursuit of these common goals.

About Paul Allen

Paul Allen is the idea man and original technologist behind Microsoft. Through his company Vulcan Inc., he worked to save endangered species, slow climate change, improve ocean health, share art, history and film, develop new technology, tackle epidemics, research how the human brain works and build sustainable communities. Paul died in 2018. According to the magazine Forbes, he was one of the richest men in the world.

Last updated: 28/11/2020