Deepwater Surveys of World War II Combat Aircraft

From February 24-March 11, 2022, a team of researchers will explore the waters off Tinian and Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands to locate and document U.S. warplanes lost during World War II.

Tinian and Saipan served as major air bases during the final year of World War II, with B-29 bombers flying long-range missions to Japan. Many aircraft were lost on take off and landing. The lost aircraft have great significance to American history, yet the final resting places of these B-29s remain largely unknown.

During this expedition, the team will conduct archeological surveys, map the seafloor in the region, and characterize the neighboring seabed habitat using state-of-the-art scientific methods and technologies, including shipboard systems, autonomous underwater vehicles, and a remotely operated vehicle. The expedition will result in an inventory of aircraft crash sites off Tinian and Saipan and data for site management and preservation; advance the efficiency, accuracy, and cost effectiveness of deepwater archaeology; and promote an increased awareness of maritime heritage through technologies that make underwater sites remotely accessible, such as 3-D models. Finally, the expedition team hopes to document and honor the final resting place of 76 U.S. service members who lost their lives in these waters.

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