The USS Independence, a WWII aircraft carrier sitting on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean 30 miles off the coast of Northern California, as seen from an  unmanned submersible.

It is a breathtaking site. The USS Independence, was sunk more than six decades ago. Now the first images are being shown of the wreck from famed oceanographer Robert Ballard. Ballard also discovered the Titanic, the Bismarck, the USS Yorktown and John F. Kennedy’s PT-109.

“What’s so wonderful about the wrecks in deeper water, like this ship, the Titanic and the Bismarck, is that they are in amazing states of preservation,” Ballard said.

The Independence saw combat at Wake Island, Okinawa, and Leyte Gulf from 1943 to 1945, and was present a year later at the U.S. atomic tests at Bikini Atoll in the South Pacific — before the Navy brought it back to the Bay Area.

The Navy disposed of the damaged vessel by on Jan. 26, 1951, by packing two torpedoes in its hull and sinking it. Ballard’s team worked with officials from the Navy and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) to find the aircraft carrier.

“It’s damaged, but the star, the insignia, is still there on the wing and the 50-caliber guns are still in place,” said James Delgado, director of maritime heritage for NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The ship was rediscovered in 1990 when the U.S. Geological Survey found it while mapping the seafloor. However, there have been no photos or video of the Independence until now.

The video also shows an F6F Hellcat still on the deck and even the letters of the ship’s name still visible on the hull.

USS Independence location (Mercury News)
USS Independence location (Mercury News)

You can read Paul Rogers full Mercury News article here.

Video courtesy CNN

Top Photo: USS Independence Bow (