The wreck of the World War II aircraft carrier USS Hornet has been discovered in the South Pacific, 77 years after Japanese forces sunk the ship in a fierce battle. The research vessel Petrel, owned by the estate of late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, discovered the Hornet three miles under the ocean surface off the Solomon Islands late last month.
The Hornet, the last U.S. fleet carrier to be sunk by enemy fire, lost 140 hands under a relentless Japanese air bombing attack at the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands on October 26, 1942.
As Imperial Navy surface forces closed in, all hands were ordered to abandon ship, and the Hornet was finished off by enemy torpedoes and sent to its watery grave.
The Hornet was a Yorktown-class carrier, best known for launching the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo and participating in the Battle of Midway.
To locate the wreck, the 10-person expedition team on the 250-foot R/V Petrel pieced together data from national and naval archives that included official deck logs and action reports from other ships engaged in the battle.
Researchers charted positions and sightings from nine other U.S. warships on a chart to generate the starting point for the search grid. The researchers discovered the wreck on the first dive mission of Petrel’s autonomous underwater vehicle
Video footage from a remotely operated vehicle confirmed the wreck when the Hornet’s designation, CV-8, showed up on camera.
‘Paul Allen was particularly interested in historically significant and capital ships, so this mission and discovery honor his legacy,’ Kraft said.
Though most of the ship’s crew of about 2,200 survived the battle, 140 perished.