Shipwreck of the USS Saratoga (CV-3) in Bikini Atoll

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 first patrolled in the vicinity of Midway Atoll and was later 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.

The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Saratoga (CV-3), circa 1942. Planes on deck include five Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat fighters, six Douglas SBD-3 Dauntless dive bombers and one Grumman TBF-1 Avenger torpedo plane.
A U.S. Navy Douglas SBD-3 Dauntless flies over the aircraft carriers USS Enterprise (CV-6), foreground, and USS Saratoga (CV-3) near Guadalcanal on 19 December 1942. The aircraft is likely on anti-submarine patrol. Saratoga is trailed by her plane guard destroyer. Another flight of three aircraft is visible near the Saratoga. The radar array on the Enterprise has been obscured by a wartime censor.

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.

Crossroads Baker nuclear weapons test, 26 July 1946: view taken from Eneu island ten seconds after the weapon was fired. The aircraft carrier USS Saratoga (CV-3) is visible in the left foreground, being lifted out of the water. She sank later that day.
The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Saratoga (CV-3) sinking in Bikini Atoll lagoon after bomb damage sustained during the “Baker” atomic test of Operation Crossroads, at 15:40h, 25 July 1946. The battleship USS New York (BB-34) is visible on the right, two Sims-class destroyers on the left.

The shipwreck of the “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 of the USS Saratoga. (Credits: Jan Kocian)

Bridge of the USS Saratoga.

Image of the bridge of the USS Saratoga shipwreck lying in Bikini Atoll (Credits: Jan Kocian)

The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Saratoga (CV-3) moored at Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (USA), circa in June 1945.The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Saratoga (CV-3) moored at Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (USA), circa in June 1945. Bridge is also visible.

Deck guns of the Saratoga

Deck guns of the Saratoga (Credits: Jan Kocian)

USS Saratoga, Bikini Atoll

USS Saratoga, Bikini Atoll

USS Saratoga (Credits: Jan Kocian)

Forklift on the USS Saratoga.

Forklift on the shipwreck of 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 of the USS Saratoga  (Credits: Jan Kocian)

Bombs are still to be found on the USS Saratoga.Bombs are still to be found on the wreck! So be cautious at all times. (Credits: Jan Kocian)

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10 thoughts on “Shipwreck of the USS Saratoga (CV-3) in Bikini Atoll”

  1. Marie Cimini- Podkowinski

    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.

    1. 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. 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

  6. USS Saratoga CV-3 was never in the “Battle of Midway”. Only Hornet, Enterprise & Yorktown was.

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