22/08/2017
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Microsoft co-founder discovers wreck of lost warship

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It’s been one of the nautical mysteries of WWII – where was the wreck of the USS Indianapolis which was sunk in the Philippine Sea on 30 July 1945 by a Japanese submarine.

However, new research from a naval historian point to a specific region of the sea where the ship had been spotted the night before which lead to the discovery by Paul Allen and his civilian research vessel, the Petrel.

The Indianapolis was on a secret mission to deliver parts for the Little Boy atomic bomb, plus enriched uranium fuel. It delivered them to Tinian Island, the American base from which the Hiroshima flight would launch. Just four days later the ship was torpedoes by a Japanese submarine and sank in the shark-infested waters. No emergency signal was transmitted, which is why it had been so difficult to find.

Some 800-900 sailors managed to get off the ship but it was four days before the survivors were rescued. By that point there were just 316 men left alive. A spokesperson for the 22 are still living today said that each of them, “Longed for the day when their ship would be found.”

The Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen, commented, “To be able to honour the brave men of the USS Indianapolis and their families through the discovery of a ship that played such a significant role during World War Two is truly humbling.”

A week after the Indianapolis was sunk, on 6 August 1945, the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Three days later a second device was detonated over Nagasaki leading to the surrender of Japan and the end of WWII.

The wreck of the Indianapolis remains the property of the US Navy and having now been discovered will be considered as a protected war memorial, though there are no details as yet how this will be enforced. Previously, British, Dutch and Japanese wrecks from WWII in the Pacific have been looted and removed by scrap metal scavengers.

 

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