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

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

A US Navy cruiser sunk by a Japanese submarine on July 30, 1945 was found on Saturday by a research team led by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and historians from the Naval History and Heritage Command, ending a 72 year mystery.

"For more than two decades I've been working with survivors".

The USS Indianapolis was lost in the final days of World War II when it was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in the early hours of July 30, 1945. "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", Allen said.

As the naval flagship of the Fifth Fleet, the sunken Indianapolis was the object of many previous search efforts.

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The 13-person crew of the Research Vessel Petrel, led by philanthropist Paul G. Allen, located the World War II cruiser 5,500 meters - that's almost 3.5 miles - below the water's surface, according to a Saturday release from the U.S. Navy. The USS Indianapolis had just completed a secret mission to the island Tinian to deliver components of the atomic bomb "Little Boy" dropped on Hiroshima, which would ultimately end the war. Allen's expedition reportedly found part of the ship in 18,000 feet of water in the Philippine Sea.

"The Petrel and its capabilities, the technology it has and the research we've done, are the culmination years of dedication and hard work", Allen's director of subsea operations Robert Kraft told the Navy.

Others have searched for the wreck in the past, but the Navy states a key discovery in 2016 by Dr. Richard Hulver led to a new search area west of the original presumed location of the wreck. The new search area still comprised 600 square miles of open ocean.

Photos showed the ship's anchor, sitting some 18,000 feet below the surface.

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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.

According to the Navy, Allen's team is complying with the standard practice of treating the site as a war grave and not physically disturbing it-which will respect the wishes of the 22 surviving crew members and the lost men's families.

The coordinates keyed out in an S.O.S. signal were forgotten by surviving radio operators and were not received by Navy ships or shore stations, the Navy command said. Photograph from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the U.S. National Archives.

The USS Indianapolis (CA-35) was a 9,800-ton Portland Class heavy cruiser that operated in the Atlantic and Pacific, and earned 10 battle stars during WWII.

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