According to Project Recover website, it is estimated that one month of the two-month-long World War II fight for Peleliu, in the Palau island chain,  gave as a result that more than 30 U.S. carrier and land-based aircraft and several sunken landing craft remain missing in their waters.

Project Recover is a collaborative effort to enlist twenty-first-century science and technology in a quest to find the final underwater resting places of Americans missing in action since World War II. This public-private partnership was initiated in the Republic of Palau, site of some of the fiercest fighting during the Pacific campaign of World War II. Many American aviators were lost during the battle to take Peleliu and subsequent repatriation of the neighboring islands, while many sailors, soldiers, and Marines were lost in landing craft.

Passion meets technology in the search for downed aircraft in the South Pacific. The BentProp Project is a group of volunteers who search for and help repatriate missing World War II Airmen. Their searches were long and arduous until they enlisted the scientific know-how of Scripps Institution of Oceanography-UCSD and The University of Delaware. What they find is truly inspiring [Via GoPro (Youtube)]

The Project Recover team has combined historical research with the scientific method and the latest in underwater search technology to conduct searches for missing Americans. Technologies include various scanning sonars, high definition and thermal cameras, unmanned aerial systems, compressed gas diving, diver propulsion systems, and tethered and freely swimming underwater robots. The Project Recover team uses many tools and equipment in its efforts to recover the 70 to 80 soldiers who may still be among the wreckage.

Historical data obtained from the National Archives and veteran interviews are fused with survey data, modern satellite imagery, and flight trajectory analyses to narrow the underwater search regions.

Project Recover developed in 2012 out of a collaboration amongst researchers at the University of Delaware, Scripps Institution of Oceanography - University of California San Diego, and the not-for-profit organizations the  BentProp Project and the Coral Reef Research Foundation (CRRF).

Wreck Discoveries. Mark Moline / University of Delaware [Via]

BentProp's group of volunteers with 20 years experience dedicated to locating and identifying Americans missing in action from World War II within the Palau islands provides unmatched historical knowledge of those still missing, and CRRF's marine facilities provides world class logistical support and local knowledge of the marine conditions.


The U.S. Office of Naval Research sponsorship of the Project Recover pilot program not only supports the development and testing of underwater search technologies, but also provided a means to develop STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) outreach materials.

Technology is used not only to find and identify the resting places of Americans lost overseas in past conflicts, but also to digitally document the site with a high degree of precision.

[Via Project RECOVER]

Project RECOVER also engages students to inspire interest in STEM fields. University students participate in field expeditions and support analysis of the volumes of data collected. In Palau, students from the elementary, high school, and local community college have been given tours and informal seminars on the marine environment, conservation, and ocean technology. A highlight has been a tour of Scripps's flagship research vessel, R/V Roger Revelle, when it makes port calls.


Members of Stockbridge High School’s Advanced Underwater Robotics team have also participated in the search for missing airmen, providing a hands on experience with testing their projects in the field under real-life conditions and alongside leading researchers.

For more information, please contact

Source: | | GoPro (Youtube) |

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