3D Mapping Project to Monitor Changes in Sunken Pearl Harbor Ships


The observance in the United States this week of Veterans Day, a federal holiday honoring those who have served in the American military, holds special meaning for those who lost loved ones when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in Hawaii during World War II. An underwater 3D imaging project is using modern technology to bring greater insights to this tragic historical event.

The project surveying such sunken ships as the USS Arizona involves a combination of man power and unmanned surface vessels. It was prompted by the fact that recent underwater studies have shown that marine life in the decades since the 1980s had begun to inhabit the corroded and twisted passage-ways and bulkheads of some of these submerged vessels. The National Park Service (NPS), concerned about how these historic sites were changing over time, brought in advanced technology to help keep track of things and monitor for potential structural integrity issues.

The extensive surveying project is aimed at developing high-resolution data and 3D models though the use of, among other things, photogrammetry (making measurements from photographs), underwater acoustic mapping and Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR). None of these uses of technology are taken lightly, especially when the scope of rendering an entire 3D model of a former battleship is considered. This is why the NPS turned to a team of select professionals and subject matter experts to help out with the endeavor.

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