Published: Sun, August 20, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Billionaire Discovers WW2-Era USS Indianapolis in Philippine Sea

Billionaire Discovers WW2-Era USS Indianapolis in Philippine Sea

Friday, a team of civilian researchers led by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen discovered the cruiser's wreckage on the floor of the North Pacific Ocean, 18,000 feet below the surface, bringing closure to one of most tragic maritime disasters in US naval history.

"To be able to honor the courageous men of the USS Indianapolis and their families through the discovery of a ship that played such a significant role during World War II is truly humbling", Allen said in a statement on his website, after tweeting August 19 that the ship had been found. Richard Hulver, a historian with the Naval History and Heritage Command, identified a naval landing craft that recorded a sighting of Indianapolis hours before it was hit.

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The sinking of the USS Indianapolis remains to be the most tragic maritime disasters in U.S. naval history.

About 800 of the crew's 1,200 sailors and Marines made it off the cruiser before it sank.

Only 317 of those aboard the ship survived. The bomb was later dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The information led the research team to a new position and estimated search area for Allen's team. His research vessel, Petrel, has state-of-the-art subsea equipment that can descend to depths like those at which the ship was found. That backed up the testimony of Captain Charles McVay III and was confirmed by deck logs. About 350 Navy ships were lost in combat during the war, but he was the only captain to be court-martialed.

Once a search grid is complete, the AUV returns to a pre-programmed location where it is retrieved and the team downloads its data.

B-roll of the R/V Petrel in its search for the U.S.S.

The cruiser was returning from its mission to deliver components for the atomic bomb that would soon be dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima when it was sacked upon in the North Pacific Ocean by a Japanese submarine on July 30, 1945. The position was west of where it was presumed to be lying. Mr. Allen is working to save endangered species; combat climate change; improve ocean health; share art, history and film; develop new technology; tackle epidemics; research how the human brain works; and build sustainable communities.

The Navy states the works is compliant with US law "respecting the sunken ship as a war grave and not disturbing the site".

Hulver and Robert Neyland, the command's underwater archaeology branch head, wrote on the website that "there remains a lot we can learn".

To a man, they have longed for the day when their ship would be found, solving their final mystery,"said Capt. William Toti (Ret), spokesperson for the survivors of the USS Indianapolis".

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