HONOLULU – New images of a large U.S. Navy seaplane that sank during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor show a coral-encrusted engine and reef fish swimming in and out of a hull.
The video and photos are the clearest images taken of the Catalina PBY-5 wreckage to date, said Hans Van Tilburg, a maritime archaeologist with the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. The site isn’t publicly accessible, so the images allow scientists to share the wreckage. They also help with documenting a historically significant wreck over time.
The seaplane had a wing span of 100 feet, roughly comparable to a modern-era Boeing 727. It now sits in pieces 30 feet below the surface in Kaneohe Bay next to a Marine Corps base, about 20 miles east of Pearl Harbor on the other side of Oahu.
There were an estimated six of these planes — also called “flying boats” — in the bay at the time of the attack, but Van Tilburg said nobody is sure what happened to the others.
The base, which was then a naval air station, was among several Oahu military installations attacked by Japanese planes on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941.