Did you know that a famous Japanese World War II wreck was recently explored?

The Chrysanthemum crest on the Akagi’s bow today
(Photo: Ocean Exploration Trust / NOAA)
Naval history buffs would be familiar with the Japanese aircraft carrier Akagi, the flagship of the Kidō Butai, the battlegroup that attacked Pearl Harbor. The vessel was damaged and scuttled on June 5, 1942, during the Battle of Midway. The wreck of the Akagi, lying 3.2 miles (5.1 km) deep, was discovered in 2019 and filmed for the first time in September 2023 by an underwater drone.
 
The Akagi, originally designed as a battlecruiser, had its hull laid down in December 1920. The Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 limited the number of capital ships that could be built by the participatory countries, and the Akagi was redesigned as a carrier with an unusual three-flight-deck arrangement to comply with the treaty.
Akagi in her three-deck configuration
(Photo: Wikipedia)
She underwent major modernization in the mid-30s, reaching the single-flight-deck configuration she would have during the war. She served as the flagship of the Kidō Butai battlegroup during the attack on Pearl Harbor, and continued to operate against the Allies near New Guinea, Australia, in the Dutch East Indies and near Ceylon.
The Akagi in World War II, with her island surrounded by futon mattresses for additional protection
(Photo: Kure Maritime Museum)
Akagi’s luck ran out at the Battle of Midway in early June 1942. The attack on the remote American outpost was designed to draw the U.S. Pacific Fleet into an ambush. Unknown to the Japanese, U.S. intelligence had already discovered the Japanese plans, and the American fleet had set its own ambush against the Japanese. Dive bombers from the USS Enterprise severely damaged the Akagi, and she was eventually scuttled by having torpedoes fired into her.
Remains of the Akagi’s tower
(Photo: EV Nautilus)

 
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