New 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)
New images show seaplane that sank in Pearl Harbor attack
Lexile

New 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. That is according to 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. Van Tilburg said nobody is sure what happened to the others.
 
The base was then a naval air station. It 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. 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. That is because they could fly as far as 2,000 miles. They 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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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What makes the new images of this seaplane so significant?
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COMMENTS (38)
  • jacksonm-2-bar
    12/09/2015 - 06:54 p.m.

    I think that it is very interesting that we just now found a sunken boat from pearl harbor which was in 1941. Seaplanes were the most targeted vehicle during the attack because they could travel up to 2,000 miles. Surprisingly over 2200 people were killed during the pear harbor attack. Most people will talk about the attack because that was the first time the us territory was attacked or invaded. I choose this article because of my little knowledge about the attach to learn more about a tragedy.

  • vincents-1-bar
    12/10/2015 - 06:50 p.m.

    I think that it is very interesting that we just now found a sunken boat from pearl harbor which was in 1941. Seaplanes were the most targeted vehicle during the attack because they could travel up to 2,000 miles. Surprisingly over 2200 people were killed during the pear harbor attack. Most people will talk about the attack because that was the first time the us territory was attacked or invaded. I choose this article because of my little knowledge about the attach to learn more about a tragedy.

    Reply

  • collinf-2-bar
    12/10/2015 - 08:21 p.m.

    The new images are significant because not many people have seen the plane before. "The site isn't publicly accessible, so the images allow scientists to share the wreckage with others."

    I was surprised that 2,400 people died in the attack.

  • sofiat-4-bar
    12/11/2015 - 12:59 a.m.

    "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." This is the signifigance. This plane now serves as a historical place. Showing whata ctually went on durring the boming of Pearl Harbor. I personaly find this quite interesting, because earlier in the article they say how this was really the only one fond although there were six mre planes, and this on just appened to be the one they found (sort of they did not stummble accross it by acident they were looking for it). I guess im trying to say it surprises me that they found it.

  • noahf-3-bar
    12/11/2015 - 02:24 a.m.

    The new images of this seaplane are so significant due to the fact there was only an estimated 6 of them in the bay at the time of attack. It remains as a grief reminder of the tragedies that occurred during Pearl Harbor and World War 2 in general.

    I found this article informative as I knew little about seaplanes and how they were used during the war.

  • peytonje-Sch
    12/11/2015 - 10:22 a.m.

    This could not have happend in the 20th century because they didn't have the technology to do this. They could only made it a few yard.

  • lblac-wim4
    12/11/2015 - 12:52 p.m.

    I think that the history of World War 2, is important to know. It allows us to see things we did and change them for the better. It is important to learn as much as possible to do so. Finding this new evidence will help many kids understand too.

  • brens-wim4
    12/11/2015 - 12:53 p.m.

    It is amazing how they found a plane more than 70 years ago. This could lead to more great discoveries in the future.

  • sbrei-wim4
    12/11/2015 - 12:56 p.m.

    I think it is amazing how they were able to find a peace of U.S history on the sea floor of the shore of the Hawaii. U.S.A v.s Japane . U.S won.

  • jwats-wim4
    12/11/2015 - 12:56 p.m.

    This is very interesting that no commanders had thought to take it back to shore. I honestly didn't know 2,400 people died in this attack. It is very interesting that this plane tells a story from the attack.

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