Two warships that went down in one of history's most pivotal naval battles have been found in American waters. Vulcan Inc. confirmed Sunday that a team searching for sunken warships from the Battle of Midway had found the wreck of the Akagi, one of four aircraft carriers that Japan lost in the battle 77 years ago. Another, the Kaga, was discovered last week by the Petrel vessel. More than a thousand Japanese crewmen died on the two ships. Some 2,000 Japanese and 300 Americans died in the battle.The team says the Akagi was found in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument resting in nearly 18,000 feet of water, ABC reports. The team has been conducting grid searches around the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands searching for wrecks from the June 1942 battle.
The Akagi and the Kaga both took part in the attack on Pearl Harbor, which occurred just six months before the Battle of Midway. Japan had aimed to lure American warships into an ambush at Midway and inflict devastating damage on the US Pacific Fleet, but they were defeated after the US cracked Japan's code and prepared an ambush of its own. Rob Kraft, director of undersea operations on the Petrel, tells the AP that the search for sunken World War II ships started with late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's wish to honor his father's military service. "It really extends beyond that at this time," Kraft says. "We're honoring today's service members, it's about education and ... bringing history back to life for future generations." The USS Yorktown, one of two US ships lost in the battle, was located in 1998. The USS Hammann has yet to be found. (Read more World War II stories.)