Wreckage of WWII ship sunk after 'secret mission' found in Philippine Sea


Billionaire tech mogul Paul G. Allen announced Friday that a research vessel belonging to his organization has located wreckage from the USS Indianapolis in the Philippine Sea.

The Indianapolis was tragically lost in the final days of World War II when it was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in the early morning hours of July 30, 1945. NHHC historians discovered the mistake after records showed a US naval landing craft in the area had spotted the Indianapolis hours before it was attacked and logged its location, giving Allen's vessel a new 600-square-mile area of ocean floor to search.

The ship sank within 12 minutes, making it "impossible" to send a distress signal, or to put much of the ship's life-saving equipment to use.

Just 316 came out of the ocean as their comrades drowned, dehydrated and were attacked by sharks for up to five days.

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

"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 in ending World War II is truly humbling", Allen said.

The Indianapolis was on a secret mission during the last days of the war, having just delivered atomic bomb components to a remote Pacific island.

The team was assisted by historians from the Naval History and Heritage Command in Washington.

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An "important chapter of WWII history concludes", Allen said on Twitter Saturday.

'They can serve as inspiration to current and future Sailors enduring situations of mortal peril.

The 13-person team will continue to survey the site and tour of the wreckage in compliance with relevant United States law for searching war graves.

By finally identifying a naval landing craft that had recorded a sighting of the USS Indianapolis the night that it was torpedoed, the research team developed a new position and estimated search, which was still a daunting 600 square miles of open ocean.

Former Marine Corp. Edgar Harrell told the Indianapolis Star that numerous survivors were hurt, badly dehydrated, and that some were killed by sharks. 93 year-old Indianapolis survivor Arthur Leenerman said in a statement cited by USNI that he wished many years for this day and was glad the search was a success.

The 13-person expedition team on the R/V Petrel is in the process of surveying the full site and will conduct a live tour of the wreckage in the next few weeks. About 350 Navy ships were lost in combat during the war, but he was the only captain to be court-martialed.

Further complicating matters, the ship's captain, who survived the attack, said the Indianapolis was exactly on its prescribed course headed to port when it was hit.