USS Indianapolis Wreck Found 72 Years Later

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August 26, 2017

The families of those who perished on the USS Indianapolis now have a bit of closure 72 years later, after the wreck of the heavy cruiser was found on the bottom of the Philippine Sea.

A Japanese submarine torpedoed the Indianapolis on July 30, 1945, when the cruiser was returning from a mission to deliver to a U.S. air base parts for the first atomic bomb, which fell on Japan on just six days later. The attack was devastating, sinking the ship in 12 minutes. About 300 of the 1,196 crewmen onboard went down the ship. Only 317 survived, the rest succumbing to a combination of dehydration, exposure, saltwater poisoning, or shark attacks. Another U.S. Navy vessel, the PV-1 Ventura, found the survivors four days after the sinking.

The Indianapolis, which was not in port in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, was involved in several Pacific campaigns during the war, including campaigns in New Guinea, the Aleutian Islands, the Mariana Islands, and the campaign to take Okinawa.

The search campaign took advantage of previously undiscovered information from a nearby ship that had sighted the Indianapolis the day it was sunk. A search crew financed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen used special underwater equipment and a state-of-the-art research vessel and found the wreck more than 18,000 feet below the surface.

In keeping with United States law, the location of the wreck will remain confidential and will be treated as a war grave.

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