SAN FRANCISCO, April 18 (UPI) -- The whereabouts and condition of the sunken USS Independence have been confirmed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Over six decades after the scuttling of the WWII vessel, it has been found in surprising condition 2,600 feet underwater off California's coast. Most of the ship is still intact.
"After 64 years on the seafloor, Independence sits on the bottom as if ready to launch its planes," James Delgado, chief scientist on the Independence mission and maritime heritage director for NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, said in a statement.
Surveyors determined the ship to be upright and slightly slanted with much of its flight deck unharmed, apart from gaping holes leading to the hangars that once housed inactive aircraft.
"This ship fought a long, hard war in the Pacific and after the war was subject to two atomic blasts that ripped through the ship," says Delgado. "It is a reminder of the industrial might and skill of the 'greatest generation' that sent not only this ship, but their loved ones to war." Scientists used an 18.5-foot-long autonomous underwater vehicle, Echo Ranger, to explore the exterior of the ship, and incorporated a 3-D-imaging sonar system, Echoscope, into the vehicle.
NOAA partnered with the U.S. Navy and private entities including Boeing to carry out the March mission, which is part of a larger task to locate, map and study shipwrecks in the waters off the coast of the Farallon Islands in San Francisco.