Seventy-two years after two torpedoes fired from a Japanese submarine sank cruiser USS Indianapolis (CA-35), the ship’s wreckage was found resting on the seafloor on Saturday – more than 18,000 feet below the Pacific Ocean’s surface.
Paul Allen, Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist, led a search team, assisted by historians from the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) in Washington, D.C., to accomplish what past searches had failed to do – find Indianapolis, considered the last great naval tragedy of World War II.
We’ve located wreckage of USS Indianapolis in Philippine Sea at 5500m below the sea. ’35’ on hull 1st confirmation: https://t.co/V29TLj1Ba4 pic.twitter.com/y5S7AU6OEl
— Paul Allen (@PaulGAllen) August 19, 2017
“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,” said Allen in a statement provided to USNI News on Saturday.
“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.”
|The hull number of Indianapolis and her anchor at 18,000 ft down!|
On July 30, 1945, what turned out to be the final days of World War II, Indianapolis had just completed a secret mission to the island Tinian, delivering components of the atomic bomb “Little Boy” dropped on Hiroshima which would ultimately help end the war. The ship sunk in 12 minutes, before a distress signal could be sent or much of the life-saving equipment was deployed, according to a statement from the Naval History and Heritage Command in Washington, D.C. Because of the secrecy surrounding the mission, the ship wasn’t listed as overdue
Around 800 of the ship’s 1,196 sailors and Marines survived the sinking, but after four to five days in the water, suffering exposure, dehydration, drowning, and shark attacks, only 316 survived.
“I’m very happy that they found it. It’s been a long 72 years coming,” said a statement released by Indianapolis survivor Arthur Leenerman, 93 years-old from Mahomet, Ill. “I have wished for years that they would find it. The lost at sea families will feel pretty sad but I think finding the ship will also give them some closure. I’m glad that the search was successful. It will be interesting to see where it was found and how deep it was resting. ”
An interesting sidebar to the story of the Indianapolis is that her captain, Charles McVeigh, was court martialed (usual in the case of losing one's ship) and convicted of not zig-zagging. Even though the Japanese sub skipper testified it would have made no difference, he was still convicted and ultimately committed suicide. About 40 years later, he was exonerated. Sad.
Now one final note and not about Paul Allen finding the Indianapolis: Maritime Maunder is 3 years old today! During that time we have accumulated over 66,000 readers (thank you all!) and posted 254 articles for your reading pleasure. So, as we embark on our 4th year, we say thank you to our readers; we hope you have enjoyed at least some of the posts! We will be posting more on the lost Franklin expedition as well as some other follow-ons to previous posts.
Until next time,