Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen announced Saturday that the research team from his company, Vulcan, searched 600 square miles of ocean using information discovered by a Navy historian who found records of the last recorded sighting of the Indianapolis.
— Paul Allen (@PaulGAllen) August 19, 2017
The sinking of the Indianapolis in July 1945 was one of the worst naval disasters in American history.
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Torpedoed by a Japanese submarine after delivering atomic bomb components, the ship sank in only 12 minutes, so was unable to call for distress or deploy lifesaving equipment, according to a Navy press release.
Only 316 members of the crew survived while the other 880 sailors and Marines died either when the boat sank or after spending days in the water.
Survivors from the Indianapolis told harrowing stories about the days they spent in the water after the ship sank. Former Marine Corp. Edgar Harrell told the Indianapolis Star that many of the survivors were hurt, badly dehydrated, and that some were killed by sharks.
The story has inspired several books and movies and was the subject of a speech by Robert Shaw’s character in the movie Jaws.
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Allen’s research team found the wreckage 18,000 feet underwater in the North Pacific Ocean using a specialized submarine-like research vessel and has located several other historic ships. Allen has been called one of the world’s top philanthropists for his contributions to research and conservation, according to his website.
The research team will continue to survey the site in collaboration with the Navy but the location will not be released, according to the Navy. It is being treated as a sunken war grave and the team will work with the Navy on plans to honor the families and the 22 surviving crew members.