HONOLULU - Almost 56 years after being torpedoed during the decisive Battle of Midway, the USS Yorktown was found on Tuesday more than three miles down on the Pacific floor.
An expedition led by the National Geographic Society identified the aircraft carrier's gun emplacement from a videotape shot by a Navy remote submersible vehicle.
Confirmation was made by Yorktown survivor Bill Surgi from aboard the Navy research vessel Laney Chouest.
"Yes, we did find the Yorktown today." said Ellen Stanley, a spokeswoman for National Geographic Television, which will broadcast the search in 1999. "They plan to explore it.
"That's the mission of the expedition: to locate, map and explore the final resting place of the Yorktown."
Although National Geographic won't reveal the exact location of the wreck, the expedition had been searching an area about 1,250 miles west-northwest of Honolulu. The ocean depths there reach nearly 17,000 feet.
The Hawaii Mapping Group at the University of Hawaii scanned the ocean floor about 180 miles northeast of Midway Island.
"In 1942, America lost a great warrior; today we've reclaimed her," said expedition leader Robert Ballard, who also found the Titanic wreckage.
The Battle of Midway was fought June 3-6, 1942, and was a key victory for the Allies in World War II.
The Yorktown, built in Newport News, Va., was 809 feet long, weighed 19,800 tons and carried 75 aircraft, including 50 bombers. During the battle of Midway, it was seriously damaged by bombers from the Japanese carrier Hiryu and then sank after being torpedoed by a Japanese submarine.
There were 2,270 survivors.
Although the Yorktown will be explored and filmed by a submersible vehicle, it will not be disturbed and nothing will be taken from it. Federal law prohibits the disturbance of any Navy wreck.
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Composition of American Naval Forces
Battle of Midway: 4-7 June 1942, Online Action Reports: Commander Cruisers, Pacific Fleet of 14 June 1942
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Oral History - Battle of Midway
Battle of Midway, 4-7 June 1942 -- Overview and Special Image Selection