Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen finds torpedoed WWII cruiser that had delivered Hiroshima bomb parts

As World War II was coming to its end in 1945, the cruiser USS Indianapolis had just finished a secret mission to deliver to a Pacific Ocean island atomic bomb components for the weapon that would fall on Hiroshima and help end the war by killing tens of thousands of Japanese.

Then two Japanese torpedoes struck the vessel. It sank in 12 minutes. Some 800 of the 1,196 sailors aboard lived through the sinking, but spent days in the water, with many dying of exposure, dehydration, drowning and shark attacks. A communications breakdown had meant the ship’s demise wasn’t discovered until days later when floating survivors were spotted from a passing aircraft. Only 316 sailors survived.

Now, wreckage of the Indianapolis has been found 18,000 feet deep in the Philippine Sea by a team led by one of America’s original tech moguls, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

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“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 during World War II is truly humbling,” Allen said in a statement on his website, after tweeting Aug. 19 that the ship had been found.

“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.”

Allen continued to provide more information and photos on Twitter, including pictures of the ship’s anchor and bell. The wreckage was first found Aug. 18, he said.

Those who survived the vessel’s sinking will welcome the find, suggested retired U.S. Navy Capt. William Toti in comments on Allen’s website.

“For more than two decades I’ve been working with the survivors. To a man, they have longed for the day when their ship would be found, solving their final mystery,” Toti said.

“They all know this is now a war memorial, and are grateful for the respect and dignity that Paul Allen and his team have paid to one of the most tangible manifestations of the pain and sacrifice of our World War II veterans.”

One survivor told the U.S. Navy Institute News that he was “very happy” the ship had been found.

“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,” said Arthur Leenerman, 93.

It was not immediately clear how long Allen, a billionaire philanthropist and conservationist who co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates in 1975, had been searching for the Indianapolis, but Allen on his website said the hunt was launched “recently.”

His expeditions have also led to the discovery of the Japanese battleship Musashi in 2015 and the Italian WWII destroyer Artigliere this year.

 

Photo: The USS Indianapolis (courtesy of e Naval History and Heritage Command/Wikimedia Commons)

 

Tags: Hiroshima, Japan, Japanese, Microsoft, Paul Allen, USS Indianapolis, World War II, WWII

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