The island of Espiritu Santo was used by the US navy as a base during WWII. Over 100 000 troops were based here, all those people did leave quite a bit behind them, and the water is no exclusion! So we have a few wrecks to explore, and plenty more to discover as not much research has been done to recover those planes and ships.
This is our new discovery, a Corsair birdcage laying at 32m on a sandy bottom. This plane was used as a fighter plane during WWII between the US and Japan after the episode of Pearl Harbour.
A large military base and harbor had been established on Espiritu Santo and the harbor was heavily protected by mines. Information about safe entry into the harbor had been accidentally omitted from President Coolidge‘s sailing orders, and on her approach to Santo on 26 October, President Coolidge, fearing Japanese submarines and unaware of the mine fields, tried to enter the harbor through the largest and most obvious channel. A mine struck the ship in the engine room, and moments later a second mine hit her near her stern.
Captain Henry Nelson, knowing that he was going to lose the ship, ran her aground and ordered troops to abandon ship. Not believing the ship would sink, troops were told to leave all of their belongings behind under the impression that they would conduct salvage operations over the next few days.
Over the next 90 minutes, 5,340 men from the ship got safely ashore. There was no panic as they disembarked; many even walked ashore. However, the captain’s attempts to beach the ship were thwarted by a coral reef. President Coolidge listed heavily on her side, sank stern first, and slid down the slope into the channel.
When American troops were leaving the Island after the base was ordered to be closed down, there was not enough space on the ships to carry each and every equipment from the base. The US military decided to offer the surplus to the local Franco-British government at a very reasonable price, which they refused.
The local government could see the amount of gear that US was unable to transport back and was secretly hoping that US Army would leave the equipment on the Island so that they could then have it for free; however, the US military had other plans.
Thurston Clarke, a travel writer, wrote about the whole affair in great detail, saying that the ‘Seabees’ had in fact built a massive ramp that ran into the sea which was then used by the Americans almost every day to drive trucks, jeeps, bulldozers, ambulances, tractors into the channel never to be seen again.
see Santo travel