Evocative Photos Inside USS Arizona Battleship Recall 60th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor

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8-Pound Swimming Robot Enters Places No Man Has Seen Since 1943

Inside the grand battleship whose sinking marked the beginning of U.S. involvement in World War II, drawings still lay on desks as if they had been stretched out yesterday. Clothes hang in closets. Tools are laid down, as if to be picked up again momentarily. Sixty years after the bombing that claimed 1,177 lives, these images were seen through the video eye of a tiny swimming robot used by the National Park Service to survey the interior of the USS Arizona. The robot is a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) called VideoRay, which sneaked through portholes, air ducts, manholes, and openings created by bomb blasts to explore the ship's interior during two scientific missions.

The ROV revealed "an amazing perspective of preservation in this important American icon," said Larry E. Murphy, chief of the Submerged Resources Center for the National Park Service in Santa Fe, New Mexico. "We are using the ROV to help us focus on the future care of the USS Arizona as a national shrine. It has met challenging conditions to conduct documentation and measurements in otherwise inaccessible areas."

The VideoRay was identified as the only piece of equipment that could access confined places divers could not go. The ROV traveled to depths of 150 feet inside the ship, while taking readings and measuring the thickness of the walls containing No. 6 fuel oil, which leaks from the USS Arizona at the rate of a quart a day. The VideoRay will be exploring other ships in Pearl Harbor in coming months.

Source: Newstream, Dec. 5, 2001.