Finding the USS Indianapolis After 72 Years

 In History, Military

A team of researchers revealed on Saturday that they had discovered the wreck of the USS Indianapolis at 18,000 feet in the waters of the Philippine Sea.

The USS Indianapolis was the flag ship of the Navy’s 5th Fleet. On July 30, 1945, just 4 days after they delivered the components to the atom bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima – an action that would ultimately end the war- the ship was sunk in the Philippine Sea by a torpedo from a Japanese submarine. It only took 12 minutes to sink to its watery grave, not to be seen again for 72 years.

Of the 1,196 sailors aboard the ship, 800 survived the sinking only to die of exposure, dehydration, drowning and shark attacks. Only 316 survived the nightmare, according to the Navy’s press release on Saturday. Of those, only 22 are still alive today.

The crew of the Research Vessel (R/V) Petrel located the wreckage. The vessel is owned by Paul Allen, who describes himself as “Philanthropist, investor, entrepreneur, author, Seahawks & Blazers team owner, guitarist, neuroscience supporter, space pioneer & Microsoft co-founder.”

“To be able to honor the brave men of the USS Indianapolis and their families through the discovery of a ship that played such a significant role in ending World War II is truly humbling. As Americans, we all owe a debt of gratitude to the crew for their courage, persistence and sacrifice in the face of horrendous circumstances. While our search for the rest of the wreckage will continue, I hope everyone connected to this historic ship will feel some measure of closure at this discovery so long in coming.” Paul Allen

Many have searched previously for the US Indianapolis. But Allen had two things going for him: First, the recent acquisition of the Petrel, which has high tech ability to find wrecks and sub-sea equipment that can dive to depths of 19,685 feet.

The second factor was learning of a new position and estimated search area. It was 600 square miles of open ocean west of the original presumed location.

The US Navy is still the owner of the ship. They have restricted the location of the wreck, as Paul Allen’s 13 man crew continues to research it. It is considered a WWII grave site.

“The crew of the R/V Petrel has collaborated with Navy authorities throughout its search operations and will continue to work on plans to honor the 22 crew members still alive today, as well as the families of all those who served on the highly decorated cruiser.” US Navy Press release



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