USS Kailua 2The sunken USS Kailua is surprisingly intact, including the ship's wheel, for a vessel that was sunk with a torpedo. / UH HURL/ NOAA

War Ship Discovered Off Hawaii


US researchers re-discover an intact World War II ship 60 years after it sunk off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii 

Researchers from the University of Hawaii (UH) and NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries announced the discovery of the World War II ship last Friday. The ship was torpedoed and sunk in 1946 and its location had been unknown since. 

The research team found the wreck approximately 20 miles off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii in 600m-deep waters and were surprised by its level of preservation. The wreck sits upright on the seabed with its solitary mast and wheel still in place. 'The upper deck structures from the bow to the stern were well-preserved and showed no sign of torpedo damage,' submersible pilot Terry Kerby from the University of Hawaii's Undersea Research Laboratory, said in a statement. 'It is always a thrill when you are closing in on a large sonar target with the Pisces submersible, and you don't know what big piece of history is going to come looming out of the dark.'

'The identification of the wreck was easy, not only because of its unique form, but also because the Navy's identification number of IX-71 was still painted on the bow,' said James Delgado, director of the Maritime Heritage Program.

USS Kailua bwThis is an archive image of the USS Kailua, 1943 / Naval History and Heritage Command

Launched in 1923 under the name Dickenson, the vessel was used to transport and maintain sumbarine telecommuncation cables around the Midway and Fanning Islands in the North Pacific Ocean before arriving in Hawaii in 1941. After the bombing of Pearl Habour in December 1941, the Dickenson was chartered by the British telecommunictions company Cable and Wireless Ltd to evacuate employees from Fanning Island. The war marked the end of the Midway Island telecommunications network and the Dickenson was chartered by the US Navy to service network cables in the South Pacific under the name USS Kailua (IX-71). Having no use for the ship after the war, the vessel was sunk by a torpedo off the Oahu coast without noting its exact location.

'We plan to nominate the wreck to the National Register of Historic Places,' said Delgado. 'Wrecks such as this remind us of special places in the ocean, like the monument, that connect all of us to them as refuges, sanctuaries and museums beneath the sea.'




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