ICEX Team Helps Discover World War 2 Plane Wreck Using Autonomous Underwater Vehicle
We are very excited to announce that during one of the side-scan sonar surveys of the seafloor off the coast of Malta using the Iver3 Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) on June 19, the team discovered, among other targets, an object resembling a plane in one of the low frequency sonar scans. Prominent features from the scan include hints of the plane’s wings and tail, as well as a tall shadow from the propeller.
Low frequency side-scan sonar image of plane-like object
On June 22, the team revisited the area near the target to confirm the coordinates extracted from the sonar and log data on the AUV, as well as gather high frequency sonar scans and video footage of the wreckage. Following this deployment, the team felt there was strong evidence that the object was indeed an ‘object of interest’ and possibly a plane.
Two high frequency sonar images of the ‘object of interest’
GoPro footage of the tail section of the ‘object of interest’ (later confirmed as a plane)
On June 29, Dr. Gambin and a team of divers confirmed the presence of a plane and identified it as a Fairey Swordfish, a biplane torpedo bomber used by the Royal Navy in the 1930s and during World War II. These rare planes were an important part of the WW 2 efforts in the Mediterranean waters around Malta.
The ICEX team is overjoyed to have helped discover a site of a historically significant plane, and are truly honored to be a part of the ongoing quest to understand the rich aviation history buried in Malta’s waters as well as assisting in the development of new intelligent search and mapping algorithms for AUVs.
Dr. Gambin commented ”2017 has turned out to be a crucial year for the ICEX. Through the use of the new AUV and the development innovative approaches to offshore survey we have achieved some important results culminating in the discovery of this historic plane. I must say that, as always, it has been great working with HM and CP faculty and students who together have contributed to adding an important piece of Malta’s complex historic puzzle.” Link to a local Malta TV show about the find: http://www.tvm.com.mt/en/news/important-underwater-discovery-just-off-sliema-coast/