Wreck of WW2 US aircraft carrier destroyed by Japanese kamikaze strike found

World War Two carrier USS Ommaney Bay
Samir Alhafith

A United States (US) aircraft carrier that was destroyed during the Second World War has been found by divers in deep waters off the Philippines. 

The USS Ommaney Bay was operating in the Sulu Sea, a body of water in the southwestern area of the Philippines, on January 4, 1945, when it was struck by a Japanese kamikaze plane shortly after 5pm. 

The twin-engine aircraft was laced with explosives and as it crashed into Ommaney Bay’s starboard side, two bombs were released causing severe damage. 

As a series of explosions rang out, one of the bombs entered the flight deck and detonated below, among the fully gassed aircraft in the forward third of the hanger deck. 

While the other exploded close to the starboard side after rupturing the fire main on the second deck and then passing through the hanger deck. 

USS Ommaney Bay aircraft carrier
Naval History and Heritage Command

Those onboard were ordered to abandon the aircraft carrier through fear its arsenal of stored torpedo warheads could explode at any time. 

A total of 95 Navy personnel were lost, including two personnel from an assisting destroyer who were killed when the torpedo warheads on Ommaney Bay finally went off. A further 65 men were wounded.   

At 7:58pm the aircraft carrier was scuttled by a torpedo from the destroyer Burns, under orders from Admiral Jesse B. Oldendorf. 

On July 10, 2023, the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) confirmed the identity of a wreck site as USS Ommaney Bay.  

The NHHC were able to use a combination of survey information provided by the Sea Scan Survey team and video footage provided by the DPT Scuba dive team, to confirm the identity. 

“Ommaney Bay is the final resting place of American Sailors who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of their country,” said NHHC Director Samuel J. Cox, U.S. Navy rear admiral (retired). “It is with sincere gratitude that I thank the Sea Scan Survey team for confirming the location of this wreck site.  

He added: “We would also like to thank the team of Australian divers from DPT Scuba for their deep diving expertise and assistance identifying the Ommaney Bay. This discovery allows the families of those lost some amount of closure and gives us all another chance to remember and honor their service to our nation.” 

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