The US went into World War II in the Pacific after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1945. In retaliation, the US started flexing their military might and sent out one of their biggest heavy cruisers, the USS Indianapolis. In a rather unexpected turn of affairs, a Japanese submarine torpedoed the USS Indianapolis. The cruiser’s resting place has remained a mystery until a team led by Paul G. Allen, the billionaire Microsoft co-founder, found the wreckage 18,000 feet below the Philippine Sea.
US Navy’s Worst Sea Disaster
When the USS Indianapolis went down, it was recorded in history as one of the worst disasters at sea. The cruiser sank approximately 12 minutes after impact of the Japanese torpedo. The USS Indianapolis has been at the center of a large number of controversies; it has inspired a play, and a scene from the famous Jaws movie and dozens of books.
The Allen-led team released pictorial evidence of the wreckage on the Philippine Sea floor. The pictures included a piece of the hull bearing the number 35, one of the telltale signs that the 22 survivors recognize as the cruiser that went down on the morning of July 30, 1945.
Out of the 1,196 crewmembers, at least 800 of the crew made it out of the sinking cruiser, but there was no distress call received by the Coast Guard or the US Navy. After four days of hanging onto the wreckage, only 316 were alive in the shark-infested water. To date, it is the greatest loss of life at sea in the history of the US Navy.
Final Secret Mission
USS Indianapolis was returning to US territorial waters from a secret mission to deliver parts of the atomic bomb called ‘Little Boy’ to an American base on Tinian Island. It also carried enriched uranium fuel for the atomic bomb’s nuclear reactor. The US launched the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima in the final days of World War II. Paul Allen’s ship is made for research and exploration, and it has found two more ship wreckages from the World War II era; an Italian naval vessel, the Artigliere, and a Japanese warship, the Musashi.