uss nevada

Searchers Locate Wreck of Unsinkable USS Nevada

Mike Schuler
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May 11, 2020

U.S. Navy underway off the U.S. Atlantic coast, 17 September 1944.

Deepwater searchers have located the wreck of the famed USS Nevada off the coast of Hawaii.

A team consisting of U.S.-based archaeology firm SEARCH, Inc. and robotics company Ocean Infinity announced the discovery on Monday.

USS Nevada was located 65 nautical miles southwest of Pearl Harbor at a depth of over 15,400 feet.

Launched in 1914, the USS Nevada the first in a class of two 27,500-ton battleships for the U.S. Navy. She had a decorated service life spanning three and half decades, serving as a symbol of American perseverance and courage.

In WWI, she performed escort duties for transatlantic convoys. In WWII, during the attack on Pearl Harbor, the USS Nevada was the only battleship to get underway, but she was beached in nearby shallow waters after being struck by Japanese bombers, killing 69 of her crew and wounding 109 others. Following salvage, she joined the war efforts in Europe and Pacific, taking part in the D-Day landings and the invasion of Okinawa.

After WWII, the USS Nevada was assigned to be a target ship in the first Bikini atomic experiments in 1946, which she survived. In 1948 she was used as a gunnery practice target, but was unable to be sunk by ships’ guns. She finally went down having been hit by an aerial torpedo on in July of 1948.

“Nevada is an iconic ship that speaks to American resilience and stubbornness. Rising from its watery grave after being sunk at Pearl Harbor, it survived torpedoes, bombs, shells and two atomic blasts,” Dr. James Delgado, SEARCH’s Senior Vice President and lead maritime archaeologist on the mission. “The physical reality of the ship, resting in the darkness of the great museum of the sea, reminds us not only of past events, but of those who took up the challenge of defending the United States in two global wars. This is why we do ocean exploration to seek out these powerful connections to the past.”

Photo shows the top of the foremast of the USS Nevada. Photo: SEARCH, Inc./Ocean Infinity

The mission was jointly co-ordinated between SEARCH’s operations center and one of Ocean Infinity’s vessels, Pacific Constructor. Pacific Constructor set sail for a range of commercial tasks in the Pacific in early 2020, ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of the global health crisis, the ship has remained at sea on a range of taskings.

“Nevada has a proud place in Navy’s history — commissioned in 1916, she served in both World Wars, and was present at the Pearl Harbor attacks in 1941; the only battleship to get underway after the attack,” said Retired Rear Admiral Samuel Cox, Director of the Naval History and Heritage Command. “During the attack, the ship and crew sustained at least six, and possibly, as many as ten bomb hits and one torpedo hit, but remained in the fight. With our Sailors quick thinking, the crew grounded the ship, preventing her from sinking. The ship was repaired and immediately returned to the fight, proving the resiliency and toughness of our Sailors then, as are today.

“She went on to participate in numerous campaigns, earning a total seven battle stars for her actions during WWII. USS Nevada serves a reminder that our Sailors have a long, terrific tradition; her fighting spirit proved the U.S. Navy remains tough in difficult times. When the circumstances appear to be at their worst, our Navy remains at their best,” Cox added.

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