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Billionaire Paul Allen finds USS Indianapolis wreckage in N. Pacific Ocean

Photo courtesy Paul G. Allen.

SEATTLE - Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen says an expedition crew on his research vessel, R/V Petrel, has located the USS Indianapolis in the North Pacific Ocean.

The heavy cruiser was commissioned in 1932 and active throughout World War II. It was torpedoed by an Imperial Japanese Navy submarine and sank in the last days of the war on July 30, 1945.

The vessel was found Saturday morning resting on the ocean floor, about 5,500 meters below the surface of the water. The discovery ends a 72-year mystery. Several expeditions to find the wreckage in the past have failed.

Before it sunk, the USS Indianapolis secretly delivered components for one of the two nuclear weapons that would ultimately help end the U.S. war with Japan.

The ship was hit by two torpedoes and sank during the night in about 12 minutes. The torpedoes caused an explosion that split the ship to the keel, knocking out all electric power.

Of the close to 1,200 sailors and Marines on-board, about 900 made it into the water. Sharks started attacking those in the water early the next day. Around 316 survived, officials say.

Allen's 16-person crew found the wreckage Saturday out of a possible 600 square miles of open ocean, Pamela Berry, a spokeswoman for a public relations group that represents Paul Allen, said.

The team is in the process of surveying the wreckage site and will be conducting a live video tour in the next few weeks, Berry said.

The PR group released a 3-D rendering of what the ship likely looked like as it was hit by torpedoes and sank into the water.


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