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Underwater explorers looking for crashed World War II bomber in Lake Ontario

Jim Kennard

A team of underwater explorers that recently found the wreck of a 18th century commercial sailing vessel in Lake Ontario say what they're looking for next is not a ship.

Shipwreck explorer Jim Kennard says he and his team would love to find a B-24 aircraft that sank in Lake Ontario in 1944.

“A number of people and divers have looked for this aircraft for years, but Lake Ontario is a big place, 7,540 square miles," said Kennard. "It’s somewhere in the lake off of Oswego, but where it is, we don’t know yet."

This wouldn't be the first aircraft Kennard has searched for. He and his team found an Air Force C-45 that crashed into the lake near Oswego in September 1952.

Kennard uses a side scanner sonar system to locate the wrecks deep underwater.  He has found 200 shipwrecks in the Great Lakes, Lake Champlain, the Finger Lakes and in the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers over the past 35 years.

One of the most notable discoveries was the HMS Ontario in 2008. The British warship is the oldest shipwreck ever discovered in the Great Lakes. It sank in the Western part of Lake Ontario in 1780.  All 120 on board were lost.

“It was a really somber occasion when we put the ROV (remotely operated underwater vehicle) down and we first came upon the ship,” Kennard said. “Usually, there’s high fives and all of that. All of us just stood there and watched the video as the ROV explored the ship and it was just silent reverence because 120 people died on that ship. We were happy that we found the ship, but at the same time, we knew that this was the greatest tragedy that ever happened in Lake Ontario.”