USS Nevada located by SEARCH and Ocean Infinity
12.05.2020Veteran battleship, which saw action in both World Wars and was used for atomic bomb testing, found in Pacific with state-of-the-art subsea technology
Launching an AUV from an Ocean Infinity vessel. Capable of working in the deepest, darkest, and coldest reaches of the ocean, AUVs return to the surface with data that provides a detailed sense of what sonar and other sensors have revealed.
SEARCH, Inc. (SEARCH), the largest underwater and terrestrial archaeology firm in the United States, and Ocean Infinity, the marine robotics company, are pleased to announce the discovery of USS Nevada (BB-36), one of the U.S. Navy’s longest serving battleships, and viewed as the epitome of American resilience and perseverance.
USS Nevada was located 65 nautical miles southwest of Pearl Harbor at a depth of over 15,400 feet. The discovery is the result of a successful collaboration between SEARCH and Ocean Infinity and marks the combination of SEARCH’s leading maritime archaeological expertise and Ocean Infinity’s unrivalled robotic technology and deep-water search capability.
The mission was jointly co-ordinated between SEARCH’s operations centre 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.
The stern of the wreck has the remains of “36” and “140.” Nevada’s designation was BB-36 and the 140 was painted on the structural “rib” at the ship’s stern for the atomic tests to facilitate post-blast damage reporting.
USS Nevada’s History
USS Nevada had an extraordinary service, spanning three and a half decades. She was launched in 1914, and performed escort duties for valuable convoys headed to the British Isles. At the end of WWI she escorted the ocean liner George Washington, carrying U.S. president Woodrow Wilson to attend The Paris Peace Conference. In WWII, on 7 July 1941 in the attack on Pearl Harbor, USS Nevada was the only battleship to get underway but, having been struck by five bombs, finally sank in nearby shallow waters. During this action 60 of her crew were killed and 109 wounded. Following salvage operations she soon re-joined the war effort, sailing to the United Kingdom to take part in the D-Day landings, amongst other European operations. She then sailed to the Pacific, arriving off Iwo Jima in February 1945 and played an important part in the invasion of Okinawa. After WWII, USS Nevada was assigned to be a target ship in the first Bikini atomic experiments in 1946, which she survived. Finally, in 1948 she was used as a gunnery practice target. Unable to be sunk by the ships using her as a target, she finally went down having been hit by an aerial torpedo on 31 July 1948.
Dr. James Delgado, SEARCH’s Senior Vice President and lead maritime archaeologist on the mission, said:
“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. 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.”
James Pochurek, SEARCH’s President, said:
“We are proud to have participated in this historic mission, which provides a tangible example of how technology can magnify the potential for discovery. Working with Ocean Infinity, the possibilities are limitless.
The discovery of the USS Nevada is another reminder of the powerful human stories lying beneath the waves waiting to be re-told.”
Shawntel Johnson, Director of Search and Recovery at Ocean Infinity, said:
“It has been a pleasure to work with the SEARCH team on this historically significant project. Our partnership has brought together a compliment of marine expertise through their extensive experience in marine archaeology and Ocean Infinity’s leading, technology driven, search capabilities. We look forward to future collaborations between our companies. We would also like to recognize and say thank you to our crews offshore who have remained dedicated and committed through these uncertain times. We continue to value the work they do and the personal sacrifices they are making to keep us operational.
It is our hope that by sharing the USS Nevada’s story that it not only honors those who served in the Navy and fulfils an important educational role, but that in these challenging times it also serves as a symbol of perseverance and courage.”
Retired Rear Admiral Samuel Cox, Director of the Naval History and Heritage Command, said:
“We are greatly appreciative to Ocean Infinity and Search Inc. in relocating and providing information on an extremely historic vestige of our nation’s past. Nevada is an unambiguous reminder of our Navy’s heritage of resilience.
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. 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.”
USS Nevada, like other ships at Bikini, was a floating platform for military equipment and instruments designed to see what the atomic bomb would do to them. One of four tanks placed on Nevada, this is either a Chaffee or Pershing tank that survived a 23-kiloton surface blast and a 20-kiloton underwater blast, and remained on Nevada until the ship was sunk off Hawai’i on July 31, 1948.