Expedition Overview

From January 27-February 25, 2023, a team of researchers will begin their search for submerged shipwrecks, aircraft, amphibious vehicles, artillery and other artifacts related to the 1944 invasion of Guam during World War II (WWII).

This expedition is the first of two that aims to further our understanding of one of the most significant invasions of the WWII Pacific theater as well as how it may have shaped the natural environment in the area today.

During WWII, Guam was a strategic military location for both the United States and Japan. In July 1944, U.S. troops invaded and secured the Japanese-held island. There has never been a comprehensive underwater inventory of the battle-related items that may still exist. Evidence suggests there is a significant amount of what are now viewed as cultural resources on the seafloor near the ‚Äčlanding beaches of Asan and Agat. Both areas are now part of War in the Pacific National Historical Park.

This winter, the team will conduct underwater remote sensing and diver-based photogrammetry surveys to map the seafloor and portions of the barrier reef near these landing beaches. They will use these data to identify the location of battle-related cultural resources and characterize the seafloor environment. Technicians will also conduct elevation surveys of the beaches to investigate how war-related impacts to the reef may be affecting coastal vulnerability to natural hazards like storms and sea-level rise.

With the winter expedition data and questions in hand, the project team will return to Guam this summer to conduct detailed exploration of areas and targets of interest using divers and a remotely operated underwater vehicle.

This Amtrac amphibious tractor is submerged beneath about 50 feet of water within the Agat Unit of War in the Pacific National Historical Park and is one of few currently known underwater relics from the battle.
This Amtrac amphibious tractor is submerged beneath about 50 feet of water within the Agat Unit of War in the Pacific National Historical Park and is one of few currently known underwater relics from the battle. Image courtesy of National Park Service. Download largest version (jpg, 2.1 MB).
War in the Pacific National Historical Park was established to commemorate the bravery and sacrifice of those participating in the campaigns of the Pacific Theater of World War II and to conserve and interpret outstanding natural, scenic, and historic values and objects of the island of Guam.
War in the Pacific National Historical Park was established to commemorate the bravery and sacrifice of those participating in the campaigns of the Pacific Theater of World War II and to conserve and interpret outstanding natural, scenic, and historic values and objects of the island of Guam. Image courtesy of National Park Service. Download largest version (jpg, 1.8 MB).

Operations

The project study areas for Guam: A Biogeographic and Maritime Cultural Landscape Exploration of a World War II Amphibious Battlefield are the landing beaches of Asan and Agat, shown here.
The project study areas for Guam: A Biogeographic and Maritime Cultural Landscape Exploration of a World War II Amphibious Battlefield are the landing beaches of Asan and Agat, shown here. Map courtesy of National Park Service. Download largest version (jpg, 1.2 MB).

Education Themes

Education theme pages provide the best of what the NOAA Ocean Exploration website has to offer to support your classroom during this expedition. On each theme page, you will find links to expedition features, lessons, multimedia, career information, and associated past expeditions.

Media Contacts

Emily Crum

Communication Specialist, NOAA Ocean Exploration
ocean-explore-comms@noaa.gov

Anne E. Wright

Principal Investigator, Submerged Resources Center, National Park Service
anne_wright@nps.gov

Monique LaFrance Bartley

Co-Principal Investigator, Ocean and Coastal Resources Branch, Water Resources Division, National Park Service
monique_lafrancebartley@nps.gov

Jeff Olson

Chief, Natural Resources Office of Communications, National Park Service
jeffrey_olson@nps.gov

Funding for this expedition was provided by NOAA Ocean Exploration via its Ocean Exploration Fiscal Year 2022 Funding Opportunity.