An Imperial Japanese Navy aircraft carrier sunk during the 1942 Battle of Midway in World War II has been discovered, a U.S. deep-sea exploration team has told Kyodo News.

Following an earlier discovery of an aircraft carrier that the team believes is the Kaga, which was also sunk by U.S. forces during the war, it has identified this newly located vessel as being the Akagi after analyzing images.

(Aircraft carrier Kaga)[Supplied photo]

The exploration team, aboard the research vessel Petrel set up by the late Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen, made its latest aircraft carrier discovery when searching the area near where the Kaga was recently found northwest of the Hawaiian islands, on the seafloor at a depth of 5,400 meters.

The Battle of Midway took place in June 1942, about six months after Japan launched a surprise attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor in December 1941. In the battle, Japan suffered a major defeat as U.S. forces had decrypted Japan's communication code, allowing the location and strength of a Japanese attack to be determined.

(Part of a ship that may be the Imperial Japanese Navy's aircraft carrier Kaga.)[Courtesy of Vulcan Inc.]

The battle became a turning point in WWII with the Imperial Japanese Navy losing four aircraft carriers -- the Kaga, Akagi, Soryu and Hiryu.

The exploration team is also known to have found the wreckage of a ship in July that is likely to be the Japanese Imperial Navy's heavy cruiser Maya sunk in the Battle of Leyte in October 1944.

According to an expert, another U.S. deep-sea exploration company announced in 1999 that it had found the wreckage of one of the four Japanese carriers, but could not identify which ship it had located.

In 1998, a U.S. underwater explorer found the wreckage of U.S. aircraft carrier Yorktown which was sunk during the Battle of Midway.