HALF MOON BAY, Calif. (Tribune Content Agency) — In a ghostly reminder of the San Francisco Bay Area’s nuclear heritage, scientists announced Thursday they have captured the first clear images of a radioactivity-polluted World War II aircraft carrier that rests on the ocean floor 30 miles off the coast of Half Moon Bay.
The USS Independence saw combat at Wake Island and other decisive battles against Japan, and was later blasted with radiation in two South Pacific nuclear tests. The Navy deliberately sunk the contaminated ship in 1951 south of the Farallon Islands.
The Independence survived not one, but two nuclear blasts. Able was an airburst, and Baker was an underwater detonation. The Independence wasn’t sunk, or even really that badly compromised by either. The real problem was that the base surge of contaminated water from Baker made her far too hot, radioactively speaking. So the Navy simply towed her out a short bit from San Francisco Bay and sunk her.