Deep sea explorers seek out sunken World War II ships

Midway Atoll — Deep-sea explorers scouring the world’s oceans for sunken World War II ships are homing in on debris fields deep in the Pacific, in an area where one of the most decisive battles of the time took place.

Hundreds of miles off Midway Atoll, nearly halfway between the United States and Japan, a research vessel is launching underwater robots miles into the abyss to look for warships from the famed Battle of Midway.

Weeks of grid searches around the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands have already led the crew of the Petrel to one sunken warship, the Japanese ship the Kaga.

This week, the crew is deploying equipment to investigate what could be another. Historians consider the Battle of Midway an essential victory for the U.S. and a key turning point in WWII.

“We read about the battles, we know what happened. 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,” said Frank Thompson, a historian with the Naval History and Heritage Command in Washington, D.C., who is onboard the Petrel.

“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.”

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