The historic ship, which served in World War II and was used in the atomic tests at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific, was intentionally sunk off California in 1951. The 622-foot-long Independence sits in 2,600 feet of water in the Greater Farallones National Maritime Sanctuary.
Experts on the research vessel E/V Nautilus are using two Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) to study the ship, which has been described as “amazingly intact” by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists. The robots’ initial dive began on Monday and they have already sent back a number of eerie images from the wreck. A Grumman Hellcat fighter aircraft, for example, can be seen in the elevator used to transport planes between the carrier’s hangar bay and its flight deck. An anti-aircraft gun is also visible and the ship’s bow can be clearly seen in the ocean’s depths.
The dive is being streamed live. James Delgado, NOAA’s head of maritime archaeology, who is on board Nautilus, has speculated that the ship may have hit the seafloor bow first, based on evidence he was seeing late Monday.