USS Saratoga (CV-3) Shipwreck in Bikini Atoll

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The USS Saratoga (CV-3), commissioned in 1927, was an Lexington-class American Aircraft carrier measuring 268 meters (880 ft.) in length and weighting 39,000 tons. Originally she was designed as a battlecruiser, but was later converted into one of the Navy’s first aircraft carriers during construction to comply with the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922.

During her World War II service she was involved in numerous battles including responding to the attack on Pearl Harbor, Guadalcanal Campaign, the Battle of Iwo Jima and countless assaults along the Japanese coast. Surviving various heavy attacks which included being torpedoed, a bombed out flight deck, hanger deck fires, and 2 starboard side bomb detonations.

For her service she was rewarded with 7 Battle Stars for her service before de-commissioning in 1945 at the end of the World War 2. Mid-1946, the ship was used as a target for nuclear weapon tests (“Operation Crossroads”). She survived the first test with little damage, but was sunk by the second test.

The wreck of the USS Saratoga (“Sara”) rests in Bikini Atoll at a depth of 52 meters (190 ft.). Her bridge is easily accessible at 18 meters (40 ft.), her deck at 28 meters (90 ft.).

USS Saratoga (CV-3) Shipwreck

Wreck of the USS Saratoga

Deck guns. (Credits: Jan Kocian)

Deck of the Saratoga CV-3

Deck. (Credits: Jan Kocian)

Bridge of the USS Saratoga.

Bridge of USS Saratoga Shipwreck in Bikini Atoll (Credits: Jan Kocian)

Deck guns of the Saratoga

Deck guns of the Saratoga (Credits: Jan Kocian)

USS Saratoga, Bikini Atoll

USS Saratoga (Credits: Jan Kocian)

USS Saratoga, Bikini Atoll

USS Saratoga (Credits: Jan Kocian)

Forklift on the USS Saratoga.

Forklift on the USS Saratoga. (Credits: Jan Kocian)

Another view of the forklift.

Another view of the forklift. (Credits: Jan Kocian)

Twin Guns of the USS Saratoga

Twin guns  (Credits: Jan Kocian)

Bombs are still to be found on the USS Saratoga.
Bombs are still to be found on the USS Saratoga. (Credits: Jan Kocian)

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Argunners Magazine is an independent online historian and collector's magazine, dedicated to the militaria and history of both Axis and Allied powers during the World War 1 & 2. Argunners is a central resource offering the latest militaria and war history news, journals, articles and press releases related to these themes.

10 Comments

  1. Marie Cimini- Podkowinski on

    My dad was on the Saratoga during the nuclear testings in the Marshall Islands – Operation Crossroads. His job was to board the ships to check the radiation levels (after the bombs detonated). The USS Nevada was the ‘target’ ship and the USS Saratoga had moved in a little closer. A Baker atom bomb was detonated underwater in the midst of target ships. A massive water wave overwhelmed the ship and sunk it. It was not torpedoed…the crew would not leave their belongings onboard.

    • There was no crew after decommissioning. CV-3 was towed to detonation site. Any personal effects on board were deliberately placed there for testing purposes only.

  2. Amazing photos! It’s ashame she was used in the testing and not have been saved as living history considering her fame, service, and military standing with the United States Navy.

  3. james bixler on

    no the 2nd blast did sink her if u look @ the pics of the wreck it shows theres no damage done to the ship and y did they have a forkleft on the ship

  4. my father was on cv3 and he told me it was never sunk during the 2nd atomic test it took 6 torpedoes to sink her the govt didn’t want people to think that the bomb was weak and couldn’t sink a ship

  5. Could not “Edit” my comment. I see now that CV3 ferried planes June 8th for the carriers at Midway. Sorry

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