Researchers discover 'ghost ship' off Hawaii coast

Researchers Discover Ghost Ship Off Hawaii Coast

It's a discovery that sounds more like a sequel to 'Pirates of the Caribbean' than a real discovery. Researchers found an intact "ghost ship" 20 miles off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii, under 2,000 feet of water.

The hulk of the ship was found last year on the seabed with its wheel in place and mast standing, according to the University of Hawaii and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.

Researchers Discover Ghost Ship Off Hawaii Coast
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Researchers discover 'ghost ship' off Hawaii coast

The vessel is the USS Kailua, formerly known as the Dickenson. It launched in 1923 from Chester, Pennsylvania, for the Commercial Pacific Cable Company as part of a global network of submarine cable for telecommunications.

In Hawaii, the Dickenson repaired cable and carried supplies until 1941, when British telecommunications company Cable and Wireless Ltd. used it to evacuate employees on Fanning Island due to World War II.

The war brought a new role for the ship. In 1942, it was chartered by the U.S. Navy and renamed the USS Kailua. The ship would service submarine and cable nets in the South Pacific until February 7th, 1946 when it was sunk by torpedo fire.

Its location has been a mystery - until now.

"It is always a thrill when you are closing in on a large sonar target with the Pisces submersible and you don't know what big piece of history is going to come looming out of the dark ... One of our first views of the USS Kailua was the classic helms wheel on the fantail," Terry Kerby, a pilot of the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory, said. "The ship was surprisingly intact for a vessel that was sunk with a torpedo. The upper deck structures from the bow to the stern were well-preserved and showed no sign of torpedo damage."

The ship is protected as U.S. federal property, though there are no plans for recovery.

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