Article excerpt

World War Two carrier YORKTOWN was discovered recently 16,650 feet below the surface of the Pacific Ocean by researchers on board US Navy research ship LANEY CHOUEST.

The expedition to find the YORKTOWN was sponsored by National Geographic and the Institute for Exploration. The discovery was made by Dr. Robert Ballard, best known for having found the RMS TITANIC in 1985.

Fifty-six years after the carrier YORKTOWN sank in the battle of Midway, a group of veterans gathered in San Diego 5 June to recall the epic battle. The YORKTOWN and four Japanese aircraft carriers were sunk during one of the most important sea battles of the 20th century.

The YORKTOWN was one of three US carriers left to defend the Pacific at the onset of World War II, after the bulk of the US Pacific Fleet was damaged or sunk at Pearl Harbor. As part of a carrier task force, the YORKTOWN helped sink three Japanese carriers and severely damage a fourth during a Japanese attempt to invade Midway. She was heavily damaged by Japanese torpedoes and sank on 7 June 1942, three days after the battle began.

Retired Capt. Bob Elder of Palos Verdes, California, was an American flier aboard the YORKTOWN. "Our forces were badly outnumbered at Midway," he explained. "So much hinged on the outcome of the battle. Admiral Nimitz committed everything we had. I was attached to Bombing Squadron 3, part of Air Group Three flying the SBD-3 (Scout Bomber Douglas). It was naval aviation all the way.

"The battle was short lived and high density," Elder continued. "Four Japanese carriers were sunk on one day. My squadron attacked the Soryu in the morning and sank her. We later attacked the HIRYU and sank her, too. …