Thursday, June 4, 1998 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Wreck Of USS Yorktown Unveiled


WASHINGTON - Three miles underwater, the USS Yorktown's four-barrel anti-aircraft gun still aims skyward 56 years after the aircraft carrier went to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, a victim of the Battle of Midway.

Photos and video of the giant ship, sitting upright on the ocean floor, were unveiled today by Robert Ballard, the undersea explorer who also found the wrecks of the Titanic and the German battleship Bismarck.

The Yorktown search was even tougher, said Ballard, whose National Geographic-sponsored effort found the ship on May 19 about 16,650 feet beneath the surface, a mile deeper than the Titanic.

Bill Surgi, a survivor of the Yorktown who accompanied the expedition, recalled being on a catwalk amidships when a Japanese torpedo exploded beneath him. He had to climb back on deck through wreckage before crossing to the other side of the vessel and abandon ship.

Most of the crew survived with Surgi, and almost 2,300 were recovered. Losses were estimated between 40 and 50 in the battle, with total fatalities of about 70 including Navy aviators.

Copyright (c) 1998 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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