WWII Maritime Heritage Trail: Battle of Saipan

WWII and the Battle of Saipan

The Battle of Saipan was fought between U.S. and Japanese forces in what is today known as the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. For both sides it was one of the most politically and militarily significant battles fought during WWII. The massive operation involved thousands of troops from all branches of the U.S. military and hundreds of vehicles, vessels and weapons. Loss of life was tremendous for both sides with accounts indicating the loss of 3,426 of 67,451 U.S. troops and 29,500 of 31,629 Japanese troops. U.S. capture of Saipan brought land-based, long-range B-29 bombers within range of Japan. An intensive strategic bombing campaign, culminating in the first use of the atomic bomb brought an end to the war without an invasion of Japan.



Propellor of a H8K Kawanishi "Emily" Japanese Seaplane

Project Description

This project ivolved the identification and documentation of selected submerged archaeological remains of the Battle of Saipan for the creation of an underwater heritage trail. A combination of archival research and systematic archaeological survey and mapping was conducted for each site. This project and trail encouraged local involvement in the preservation of submerged sites through consultation, training and volunteer opportunities. The end result provides economic benefits to the community and a sustainable program for interpreting and preserving WWII heritage.

The heritage trail includes 12 U.S. and Japanese vehicles, aircraft, and shipwrecks. The sites range from snorkel depths of 2m to 10m of water and are interpreted for both divers and non-divers. Underwater waterproof guides for each site were produced. These guides include a site plan, photographs, brief histories of the wrecks, GPS locations and information on how to access the sites. Four thematic color posters were also developed and include detailed histories of the wrecks as well as information about the importance of conservation and preservation of these heritage resources. To dowload the posters and guides, please click here. To see a short presentation on the project development, click here. For more information contact: Dr. Jennifer McKinnon, Project Manager

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This project was made possible by a National Park Service American Battlefield Protection Program Grant. This material is based upon work assisted by a grant from the Department of the Interior, National Park Service.  Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of the Interior.