Images show seaplane that sank in Pearl Harbor attack
Images show seaplane that sank in Pearl Harbor attack This photo provided by the University of Hawaii Marine Option program shows the wreck of a seaplane downed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. (Jeff Kuwabara, University of Hawaii Marine Option Program via AP)
Images show seaplane that sank in Pearl Harbor attack
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Images of a large Navy seaplane that sank in Hawaii waters during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor show a coral-encrusted engine and reef fish swimming in and out of a hull.
The video and photos are the clearest images taken of the Catalina PBY-5 wreckage to date, said Hans Van Tilburg, a maritime archaeologist with the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.
The site isn't publicly accessible, so the images allow scientists to share the wreckage with others. They also help with documenting a historically significant wreck over time.
The seaplane had a wing span of 100 feet, about comparable to a modern-era Boeing 727 commercial jet. It now sits in pieces 30 feet below the surface in Kaneohe Bay next to a Marine Corps base, about 20 miles east of Pearl Harbor on the other side of Oahu.
There were an estimated six of these planes - also called "flying boats" - in the bay at the time of the attack, but Van Tilburg said nobody is sure what happened to the others.
The base, which was then a naval air station, was among several Oahu military installations attacked by Japanese planes on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941.
Van Tilburg said a mooring cable is still attached to the plane, but there are signs someone started the port engine before the plane sank. This indicates a crew may have died while attempting to take off as the aerial assault began.
The Catalina PBY-5 could hold an eight-man crew and four 500-pound bombs.
Standard practice was to keep someone on the seaplanes at night to make sure the aircraft didn't drift off. There were aviator casualties in the water, but it's not known which planes they were on or when they got off, Van Tilburg said.
"That's one of the mysteries of the story," he said.
The seaplanes would have been priority targets because they could fly as far as 2,000 miles and would have been able to follow Japanese planes back to their aircraft carriers, Van Tilburg said.
Van Tilburg said the plane is a battlefield casualty, just like better-known counterparts like the battleship Arizona and other vessels bombed in Pearl Harbor. Van Tilburg said he imagines commanders rightfully assumed the plane was a total loss and not worth salvaging.
There's been no "dedicated discussion" to retrieving the plane, which is currently in three large pieces, he said. It would cost a great deal to stabilize it and bring it ashore.
The aluminum and other metals may leech over time, but that fact must be balanced with habitat the plane provides for fish and other marine life, Van Tilburg said. The site has become a living reef, he said.
The wreck helps tell the story of what happened at Kaneohe Bay, where 18 sailors and two civilians were killed. Sixty-nine others at the base were injured.
More than 2,400 sailors, Marines, soldiers and civilians were killed across Oahu in the Japanese attack.

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What makes the new images of this seaplane so significant?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • maddyc-Orv
    12/10/2015 - 03:47 p.m.

    Well it said that "The wreck helps tell the story of what happened at Kaneohe Bay, where 18 sailors and two civilians were killed." in the story. That's why it's so important. It just fills in the blank spaces of no information, with information.

  • haleyh36057-
    12/14/2015 - 08:44 a.m.

    It is the clearest image of the wreckage that they have to date.

  • colemand-
    12/14/2015 - 08:53 a.m.

    I like how there are so many things in the ocean waiting to be discovered.

  • jacobp123456791-
    12/14/2015 - 08:56 a.m.

    To see how we used to build airplanes, and what we used them for.

  • evanterrell-bak
    12/15/2015 - 05:20 p.m.

    Great story! I love it! 8.900 billion stars! I wonder if the pilot's body or skeleton is still inside the aircraft but divers just don't know it yet.

  • evakathrynj.1-tay
    12/17/2015 - 09:11 a.m.

    The pictures that they have are good, clear pictures. You can see most of the stuff pretty well.

  • delainnab.-tay
    12/17/2015 - 09:12 a.m.

    The pictures show that there was coral growing on an engine that might be the plane during the Pearl Harbor.

  • mikaylaz.-tay
    12/17/2015 - 09:13 a.m.

    The images of the seaplane are significant because it is one of the clearest images and it allows scientists to do more research on it.

  • madilynm.-tay
    12/17/2015 - 09:14 a.m.

    They found new and interesting fotage of the lost seaplane that crashed an sunk December 7,1941

  • caseyw.-tay
    12/17/2015 - 09:15 a.m.

    It's significant because they can study that picture of the plane.

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