What Happened to U.S. Military Vehicles and Equipment after World War II?

Espiritu Santo, the largest island of the Vanuatu archipelago in the South Pacific, was transformed by the United States into a military supply base, a naval harbor, and an airfield after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. The balmy island became a convenient hub for striking back at Japan during World War II. When the fighting stopped, the U.S. military left behind roads, buildings, and runways, but they couldn't get the French and British colonial authorities to agree to buy the supplies that the Americans wouldn't be able to transport back home. So the Americans dumped it all into the ocean -- everything from vehicles and weapons to clothes and crates of Coca-Cola.

An underwater arsenal:

  • The Europeans on the island passed on the goods, even though they were offered at the low price of 6 cents on the dollar, because they figured that the Americans would end up simply leaving everything behind on their way out.
  • Today, Million Dollar Point (so named for the value of the equipment submerged there), has become an odd underwater museum where snorkelers and scuba divers can spot military tanks, guns, bulldozers, forklifts, and Jeeps.
  • Espiritu Santo was the inspiration for the setting of the well-known 1949 musical South Pacific, which features an American nurse who falls in love with a French plantation owner during the war.
More Info: Atlas Obscura

Discussion Comments


It seems not all the military equipment went into the Pacific. I was born in Austria in 1945 and emigrated to the US at the age of 10. I still communicate with a close Austrian friend. She advised that the US Army left all their equipment to the Austrian government. I'm sure sensitive material was not left behind.

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