monitor '01

aegean '01

hunley '01

defence '00

black sea '00

black sea '99

ashkelon '99

black sea '98

midway '98

skerki '97




In April and May of 1998 a team led by Robert D. Ballard searched over 200 miles of the seafloor in the pacific looking for the aircraft carrier Yorktown sunk during the battle of Midway in World War II. The carrier was found was found in 16,000 feet of water. An article from MIT's Tech Talk has more on MIT's participation in the expedition, and there's more info at the National Geographic Web Site and you can listen to an NPR broadcast on the web (look under USS Yorktown).

Laney.jpg (91595 bytes)The host ship, DSVSS Laney Chouest, tied up at the Midway pier (DSVSS stands for deep submergence vehicle support ship). The Laney Chouest is owned by a civilian company and on a long-term charter to the U.S. Navy. Thus, the ship's crew (captain, mates, etc.) is civilian, but there is a detachment of Navy personnel aboard (from the Unmanned Vehicles Unit in San Diego) which runs the actual submersibles. This was the Laney's last cruise with the navy.



chart1.jpg (578261 bytes)Search strategy for the Yorktown, showing the two undersea mountains and various reported positions of the vessel when it sank, taken from combat reports and Naval War College analysis.


Laying out the search

dmbb.jpg (233608 bytes)

chartstill1.jpg (77005 bytes)Tools for the search: historical photographs, logbooks, ship models.



Sonar.jpg (170907 bytes)



Bruce Applegate from the University of Hawaii monitors the sonar data. On this computer monitor, an image of the Yorktown would be only about 16 pixels long and 2 pixels wide. Careful attention was warranted to avoid missing something important.


Atvdive.JPG (200856 bytes)After we identified a number of bumps and smudges on the sonar image, the Navy's ATV (for advanced tethered vehicle) dives at night to take a closer look with video cameras. It's a remotely operated vehicle and carries no people, the operators sit in a control room on a ship and control it with a joystick.





Gun.jpg (145789 bytes)The island of midway today: a few relics from the war and lots and lots of birds; literally millions of albatrosses and their young, as well as terns, frigate birds, and a host of others.


Hathole.jpg (297553 bytes)



Harry Ferrier, one of the survivors along to see his old ship, holding the hat he was wearing when his plane was hit while attacking the Japanese carriers. Note the bullet hole.








Deep Water Archaeology Research Group
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
77 Massachusetts Ave. Rm e51-194
Cambridge, MA 02139



links research events expeditions home education publications in the press skerki 1997 midway 1998 black sea 1998 ashkelon 1999 black sea 1999 black sea 2000 defence 2000 hunley 2001 aegean 2001 monitor 2001 expeditions