Look What Divers Discovered In The Pacific Ocean

While diving in the Pacific Ocean, near the Marshall Islands, a group of divers photographed an amazing World War II mystery that was not supposed to be discovered. One of the divers, the photographer and coast guard officer, Brandi Mueller, captured a series of incredible images showing a forgotten part of history. Keep on reading to find out what she discovered

Photo: Courtesy of xray-mag.com

#22. Unexplored Oceans

Brandi Mueller learned to dive when she was just a teenager, at the age of 15. Back then she was living in New Zealand as part of a student exchange program, and since then, diving has become her great passion. And as the years went by, she realized that she wanted to continue diving, but as a living.

Photo: Courtesy of Ikelite.com

Mueller was always troubled by the fact that approximately 95% of Earth’s oceans remain unexplored. With this in mind, she decided that she wanted to dedicate her life to explore the depths of the oceans, hoping to unveil some of its mysteries. But scuba-diving wasn’t her only interest. Can you guess what her other passion was?

#21. How Everything Started

Brandi remembers that during her childhood, she really enjoyed exploring nature. She used to borrow her parents’ camera and spent entire afternoons taking pictures of plants and animals that caught her attention. As time went on, she decided that she wanted to dedicate herself professionally to what, until that moment, had been one of her two hobbies, the other being diving. And that’s when she thought of combining her two passions: diving and photography.

Photo: Courtesy of ikelite

As a young adult, when she was studying at university, she traveled to some exotic places to learn more about plants and ecology. She visited more than 60 countries and dived in all of the world’s continents. She also decided to join the Coast Guard, which made it easier for her to go on professional scuba diving expeditions. Eventually, she began to give dive classes.

#20. Amazing Findings

Thanks to her determination, Brandi Mueller has made some impressive findings on some of her expeditions. In fact, she has come to explore many Aeroplane Graveyards of the Second World War that lie submerged in the seabed of the Pacific Ocean. She has photographed dozens of planes, ships, and other objects. Without a doubt, her work poses as a reminder of the brutal battles that once occurred in this paradisiacal place.

Photo: Courtesy of xray-mag.com

It took quite some time for Mueller to become a professional photographer and diver, but during this process, she traveled around the world and found underwater sites that otherwise would never have been found, and took pictures that otherwise would never have been exposed. But now we’re going to focus on one of her findings. To be more specific, we’ll talk about the relics that she has found on the seabed of the Marshall Islands, which helped to gain insight into one of the greatest wars that have occurred on our planet.

#19. 70-Year-Old Mystery

Five miles away from the coast of Roi-Namur in the Marshall Islands, the 31-year-old Brandi Mueller came across a fantastic site where hundreds of aircraft from the World War II lay on the underwater graveyard of the Pacific Ocean. Mueller has taken numerous pictures underwater, especially in many exotic places, such as Hawaii, Australia, Iceland and more, but the Marshall Islands are one of her favorite spots to dive and capture images.

Photo: Courtesy of Direct Expose

One day, during one of her diving classes, she came across a frightening scene: more than 150 warplanes were spread on the seabed and as she swam near them, she started taking fantastic pictures of the planes sunk in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Her discovery and her wonderful pictures made her one of the most popular underwater photographers of her generation and she has received a captain’s license to explore and lead a diving expedition in the ocean.

#18. The Marshall Islands

The Marshall Islands are a group of 29 islands in the Pacific Ocean. They are located above submerged volcanoes and although most people only see the beauty of this tropical place, the ocean keeps many secrets that only a few can see. Mueller became one of them when she found this location, made up of atolls, a perfect place to explore. The first stop was the waters from Kwajalein Atoll, where she took pictures of beautiful animals.

Photo: Courtesy of facebook.com

However, in 1944, this paradise was the scene of one of the most important wars of contemporary history, and because of this, most of the coral reefs were destroyed as a result of nuclear contamination from the United States testing weapons during the Cold War days. But this did not stop Mueller, who decided to return to this place several times to learn why all these planes were dumped during World War II and it became one of her most important projects.

#17. Debris On The Seabed

During one of her expeditions around the Marshall Islands, something interesting was revealed: on the seafloor, there was a layer of huge metal debris, and as she got closer, she could see some rusted hulls that were covered in coral, with thousands of fish using them as a home. This was clearly a sign that the warplanes had been left untouched for a long time. Amazing, right?

Photo: Courtesy of Brandi Mueller via Mashable

Although the area where the planes were was well-known, diving in this place was extremely difficult and only a few expert divers were able to reach the “Airplane Graveyard”. Determined to take more photographs, Mueller continued coming to this remote area and she collected a great number of fascinating pictures that took her an enormous amount of time, skills, and patience.

#16. Airplane Graveyard

As the captain of a boat, Brandi Mueller was allowed to explore the Pacific Ocean without restriction, as well as to practice her photography skills beneath the waves with a group of divers. These divings led her to the already mentioned “Airplane Graveyard”, where the planes have remained forgotten for 70 years, 130-feet underwater. Can you guess why the planes were sunken? Continue reading and get surprised!

Photo: Courtesy of Brandi Mueller via mediadrumworld.com

After the discovery, Brandy continued exploring this isolated place every day in order to capture more images of these abandoned planes. Some of the planes were lying vertically and some of them were in a strange position. “For me, diving on airplanes, especially World War Two airplanes is really unique,” Mueller explained in an interview with the Daily Mail.

#15. Perfect Conditions

Amazingly, the planes were completely intact and despite the rust, seaweed, and coral, they remained in very good conditions with only a few broken tails and wings. However, unfortunately, since the planes were extremely rusted, Mueller could not identify the insignia that would have helped to find out their origin.

Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Any other visitor would have probably guessed that this large amount of planes sunken on the depth of the ocean had been the property of a Japanese or an American fleet which most likely ran out of fuel and was unable to return to their home country. However, Mueller and her fellow divers were lucky enough to unveil the unexpected truth.

#14. No Human Remains

The planes were actually in very good conditions, aside from the rust that had formed on its exterior due to the obvious fact that it had remained submerged in the depths of the sea and in the middle of a coral for 70 years. However, Mueller and the other divers found it strange that there were no human remains near the planes. Although they carried out an intensive search, they could not find any traces – such as skeletons or personal belongings – from the people who commanded these aircraft during the fierce battle between American and Japanese forces. How could this be?

Photo: Courtesy Brandi Mueller Via Mashable.com

Even though they checked inside every plane, they realized that all of them were almost empty. They only contained seats and controls, but no signs of human life could be found. That was strange, because corpses immersed in water below 44 degrees Fahrenheit can be persevered intact for many years. Had the marine animals fed on their bodies? Was that the reason why they could not find any sign of the crew?

#13. Revealing The Forgotten History

Brandi Mueller was totally decided to return to this eerie location with the purpose of taking more photographs of all she had spotted at the bottom of the sea. It’s very likely that other divers had visited this site before her, although it is impossible to stipulate how many people had already discovered this site. As it is extremely complicated to get to this location, it is certainly a trip that only a few lucky and brave divers dare to take. Would you dare?

Photo: Courtesy of Brandi Mueller via facebook.com

Luckily, Mueller was willing to take risks and decided to undertake this underwater photography project, which eventually allowed her to take stunning images of a hidden site where part of the world’s history remained uncovered. This aircraft graveyard was a great historical finding since it also allowed historians to gain insight into the events that took place during the Second World War.

#12. A Challenging Project

Mueller’s photographic project was, without a doubt, the biggest and most difficult challenge in her life. The thing is that the sunken planes were very difficult to capture. As Mueller explained, “These planes are particularly hard to photograph given the depth. The time you have to stay in this depth is limited“. Can you imagine diving in this place?

Photo: Courtesy of xray-mag.com

But no matter how difficult and dangerous this expedition was, Mueller found it very thrilling.

But seeing planes underwater is strange, planes don’t belong in the water, they belong in the sky, so it feels weird to dive on them. But amazing and special too. And because these planes didn’t sink because of the war they are special,” Mueller said in an interview.

#11. Why Were They There?

During her dives in Roi-Namur, Mueller photographed over 150 different aeronautical pieces that were dumped into the ocean, including small fighters like F4F Wildcats, TBF/TBM Avengers, Helldivers, and B-25 Mitchell medium bombers. Some of them were stuck into the sand and most of them were covered in coral. “They should have flown more, lived longer, but they were sunk in perfect condition,” Mueller told the Daily Mail.

Photo: Courtesy of Brandi Mueller Via Mashable.com

During the Second World War, several battles between the American and Japanese forces took place in different islands of the South Pacific Ocean. However, this alone did not explain why so many airplanes lay on the bottom of the ocean in such perfect conditions. Apart from that, Mueller added: “Diving on shipwrecks seems normal, you expect ships to have sunk…but not planes“. What do you think happened?

#10. Dumped In The Ocean

Most of the airplanes and military supplies that Mueller found were in good shape, which meant they had not been shot down: According to the diver, “they were taken out over the reef and pushed off intact after the war ended.

Photo: Courtesy of facebook.com

It is widely known that dumping equipment in the sea after a war has always been a common practice. For instance, when the Vietnam War ended, it is believed that $10 million worth of helicopters were sunk by US military forces. This explains why there was a millionaire amount of metal junk at the bottom of the Marshall Island’s waters, but there is one question that remains unanswered: why is this a common practice and why did the Japanese dump their ships in the ocean?

#9. The Main Reason

The fact is that after the surrender of the Empire of Japan, the planes were intentionally sacrificed and thrown into the sea. According to Mueller, it was because of the enormous resources it would have taken to transport these warplanes back on ships to the United States. The planes had been stationed in the surroundings of the Kwajalein Atoll, which is over 14,000 km away from the U.S.

Photo: Courtesy of Brandi Mueller Via Mashable.com

On top of this, many of these airplanes had already become obsolete by the time the war was over. Thus, the money that it would take to transport the aircraft back to the U.S. could instead be invested in purchasing faster and more modern planes. But planes were not the only objects that the underwater photographer discovered on the ocean floor.

#8. Underwater Museum

Mueller found so many military objects and equipment that it could truly be described as an underwater museum. To begin with, she found and photographed different types of warplanes, including TBF, TBM Avengers, dive bombers, and F4U Corsairs. Most of these models had been introduced in the early 1940s and were crucial for the US victory in the Second World War.

Photo: Courtesy of mediadrumworld.com

However, other objects lay in the depths of the sea as well. For instance, Mueller also found ships and semi-trailers. In the nearby island of Vanuatu, divers also found forklifts, tractors, bulldozers, jeeps, and even coke bottles. But there’s another question that needs to be answered: why was all this equipment in this particular region? The reason takes us back to the Pearl Harbor attack.

#7. Battles In The Pacific

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, took the United States by surprise. However, this hard blow did not destroy American determination to achieve an allied victory. Six months after the Japanese attack, the US forces retaliated against the Japanese at the Battle of Midway.

Photo: Courtesy of history.com

The Battle of Midway took place on June 4, 1942, in the Midway Atoll, a group of islands located in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii. During this military conflict, the American forces reappeared with incredible strength and power, and they inflicted devastating damage to the Japanese fleet. This battle weakened the Japanese forces, and according to historian John Keegan, the battle was “the most stunning and decisive blow in the history of naval warfare.

#6. A Strategic Position

It happens to be that the Midway atoll is relatively close to the Kwajalein Atoll, which belongs to the Republic of the Marshall Islands. And during the Second World War, the Japanese 6th fleet settled its administrative center in the Kwajalein Atoll, to support and aid the Japanese fleet scattered throughout the Pacific Ocean. In 1944, two years after the Battle of Midway, the US forces invaded and occupied this Japanese base in what was known as the Battle of Kwajalein. The US was interested in taking control of the Marshall Islands due to its strategic geographic location.

Photo: Courtesy of worldwarphotos.com

50,000 members of the US Armed Forces took part in this battle, which ended in an American victory. The Japanese forces were extremely damaged since the Americans destroyed both their administrative center in the Kwajalein Atoll and their military garrison in the nearby Mili Atoll. Besides, it was much easier for the US to reach Japanese land from these islands.

#5. Underwater Cemetery

These battles explain the amount of military equipment that lay in the bottom of the ocean near the Marshall Islands. But as you may imagine, Mueller discovered similar military equipment in other diving expeditions at other parts of the Pacific Ocean. As a result of the aerial and naval battles of World War II, the South Pacific Ocean became a cemetery of military vehicles which was documented by Mueller’s amazing pictures.

Photo: Courtesy of Brandi Mueller via ikelite.com

In the same way that American aircraft have been thrown into the ocean, Japanese planes and ships have also been sunken and forgotten for 70 years. But in some of the Japanese ships, human remains have been found, together with some of the sailors’ and pilots’ personal belongings. It is believed that at least some of these ships sunk in the framework of these military operations. In other words, not all of them were deliberately thrown into the ocean in order to save the costs of transporting them back home.

#4. Chuuk Lagoon

Mueller discovered yet another World War II underwater graveyard on the seafloor of the Chuuk Lagoon, located in the Central Pacific Ocean, within the territory of the Federated States of Micronesia. Chuuk Lagoon was the Empire of Japan’s main naval base in the South Pacific, but it was destroyed in 1944 after a two-day American attack called Operation Hailstone. Mueller found so many objects here, that it became one of her favorite places to take photographs.

Photo: Courtesy of argunners.com

The Japanese base was referred to as “the Gibraltar of the Pacific” due to its natural deep lagoon, high islands, circling barrier reef, and man-made defenses. In fact, it was considered to be the strongest naval base in the Pacific with the exception of Pearl Harbor. The islands were once part of the Spanish West Indies, explored by Magellan, but by the time World War II broke out, they belonged to the Empire of Japan and more than 40.000 Japanese soldiers were active there.

#3. Treasure Underwater

After the American attack, about 250 warplanes were destroyed, and experienced pilots lost their lives. Also, about forty ships, including cruisers, destroyers, auxiliary ships, and about two dozen cargo vessels, were sunk. Now, it is possible to find a large number of airplanes, ships, and other war relics at the bottom of Chuuk Lagoon and a lot of people enjoy diving in this tropical area.

Photo: Courtesy of argunners.com

At the time of the sinking, these Japanese ships were loaded with supplies and ammunition, which were spread across the seabed, making it a real treasure for divers and underwater explorers. Mueller’s photos show the remains found at the bottom of the Chuuk Lagoon, and thanks to her findings, the site came to be known as “the million-dollar wreck”.

#2. Japanese Warplanes

Mueller found all type of objects in her expeditions, though especially planes. Most of the planes she found were the Mitsubishi Navy Type 1 attack bomber. These planes were used by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service during World War II, and they were referred to as the Betty Bombers by the Allied forces. Japanese Navy pilots used to call them “Hamaki”, which is the Japanese word for cigarette, because of their shape.

Photo: Courtesy of xray-mag.com

At the Mitsubishi plant, 2.435 of these warplanes were produced and they were used by the Japanese naval forces during World War II. These models were highly effective but they did not provide protection to the pilots due to its structural lightness. This is another of the main reasons why the Japanese decided to withdraw them in 1945, and why many of them were thrown into the ocean.

#1. End Of The War

Even though the Japanese military managed to conquer a great number of islands, the allies struck back. After the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan surrendered, and soon lost control over these islands. Emperor Hirohito recorded a transmission publicly announcing the surrender on August 15, 1945, and that’s the day when the Second World War finished.

Photo: Courtesy of Facebook

The war cost the United States about $341 billion dollars and when it ended, thousands of planes were dumped into the ocean. They have remained lost on the ocean floor for 70 years. Fortunately, Mueller’s brave expeditions and incredible photographic skills have allowed us to find out part of what lies at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean… But what other things do you think we’ll find?

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