A team of underwater archaeologists has pieced together information from declassified government documents and a shipwrecked World War II-era naval vessel to understand the secret role played by one of the most historic U.S. aircraft carriers: the USS Independence.

The Independence (CVL 22) was one of 90 vessels assigned to Operation Crossroads — the atomic bomb tests conducted at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands — but it was deliberately sunk, or scuttled, in 1951 and little was known about its career after the atomic bomb tests.

After discovering the location of the Independence shipwreck last year, researchers were able to compare sonar images of the wreck with declassified documents to uncover the carrier’s use as a radiological laboratory and nuclear waste receptacle from 1946 to 1950.[See Images of the USS Independence Shipwreck and Dive Mission]

“Now we not only know what shape she’s in and where she lies, but also exactly what happened to the Independence,” said lead researcher James Delgado, a maritime archaeologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Read more at Fox News

Image courtesy of wired.com

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