(AFP) – Jul 11, 2012
OTTAWA — US Navy divers plan to search Wednesday the wreck of a US Air Force airplane that sank in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence in 1942 for the remains of five American crewmen, an official said.
Canadian underwater archeologists accidentally discovered the wreck of the amphibious aircraft in 2009 during routine work, about two kilometers (1.2 miles) off the coast of the village of Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan, Quebec.
A 50-person US military recovery team "will conduct underwater excavations to search for the remains of the victims as well as any of their personal belongings," Parks Canada said in a statement.
The Catalina seaplane had foundered in rough weather on November 2, 1942, in the waters surrounding what is now the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve in the eastern part of the gulf.
It was based at Presque Isle, Maine, in the United States, and serviced an airfield in Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan, about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) northeast of Montreal.
Nine people were on board when the aircraft went down. Four of the crew escaped the flooding plane and were rescued by local fishermen rowing out from shore in open boats in rough seas.
The five others perished, trapped inside.
The recovery mission "is significant because it is a witness of the collaboration between Canada and the United States during World War II, particularly in respect to the aerial bridge developed between North America and Europe," said Canadian Senator Michel Rivard.
"The government of Canada will do all it can to assist JPAC (US Joint Prisoners of War, Missing in Action Accounting Command) in their solemn mission."
In 1941 and 1942, the United States constructed a series of airfields in eastern Canada to ferry aircraft to Allied air forces in northern Europe, as part of the so-called "Crimson Route."
The construction of the airfield in Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan was meant to serve as an emergency landing strip along the ferry route between Presque Isle and Goose Bay, Labrador.
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