Divers Capture Images Of World War II Seaplane Wreckage


Image: University of Hawaii Marine Option Program

Images of a Catalina PBY-5 that sank during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor 74 years ago this week can now be viewed online after a successful archaeological survey of the wreckage. The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and the University of Hawaii partnered for the expedition over the summer to document the site in Kāne‛ohe Bay. Divers took high-quality photos and short videos while examining pieces of the seaplane, including the wing, cockpit and engine nacelles.

The university had attempted the survey in 1994, but was hampered by poor visibility underwater. NOAA says specific information about the aircraft is unknown, but there is speculation that the aircraft’s crew members died while attempting to take off during the attack on Dec. 7, 1941. The wreckage is 30 feet below the surface and is a federally protected site. The Catalina PBYs, built by Consolidated Aircraft in the 1930s and 1940s, flew during World War II in various functions including combat and search and rescue. Variations of the aircraft still fly in aerial firefighting operations.