CSIRO vessel to search for US Navy oiler sunk in Battle of the Coral Sea

USS Neosho shortly after its commissioning in 1939 Image: US Navy USS Neosho shortly after its commissioning in 1939

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has deployed the research vessel Investigator to the waters off northeastern Australia to search for the wreck of an American ship that was sunk during the Battle of the Coral Sea in World War II.

A team led by Dr Robin Beaman of James Cook University in Queensland will conduct low-resolution seafloor mapping of the likely location of the final resting place of the Cimarron-class fleet oiler USS Neosho, which was deliberately scuttled by the US Navy on May 11, 1942, after it had sustained seven direct hits from Japanese bombs.

The search for Neosho is part of a nearly month-long multi-disciplinary voyage that also includes an investigation into how undersea volcanic hotspots have influenced the evolution of the Australian plate and studies of the marine biodiversity in the Coral Sea. A total of 35 participants from 10 institutions, including four Australian and two international universities in Edinburgh and Glasgow, comprise the voyage's science team.

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