The Petrel research vessel is perched at a place in the South Pacific Ocean that was anything but peaceful 77 years ago. It was then the scene of a major battle between the Japanese and Imperial Japanese navies during the Second World War. For the American aircraft carrier, Hornetit would be his last battle.
Researchers revealed that Petrel had found the wreck of the USS Hornet at the end of January – exactly what they were looking for. The ship was found more than 17,000 feet below the surface, at the bottom of the South Pacific Ocean, near the Solomon Islands. The USS Hornet is best known for launching the important Doolittle raid in April 1942 and its role in the victory at the Battle of Midway.
Now 95-year-old Richard Nowatzki was an 18-year-old Hornet gunner when enemy planes struck several times, reports CBS News' Mark Phillips.
"When they left, we were dead in the water," Nowatzki said. "They used anti-armor bombs, now, when they go down, you hear them cross bridges … plink, plink, plink, plink … and then, when they explode, the whole ship trembles."
With 140 crew members already dead, the order was given to abandon the ship. The Hornet went to the bottom – three and a half miles below – that the Petrel crew swept with an offshore sonar drone that returns live footage.