USS Indianapolis Ruins Discovered in North Pacific

The Portland-class heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis (CA 35) underway in Pearl Harbor in 1937. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

On Aug. 18, 2017 an expedition crew aboard RV Petrel, a research vessel owned by Paul Allen, located the remains of USS Indianapolis at a depth of 5,500 m in the North Pacific Ocean.

Indianapolis suffered an attack by Japanese submarine torpedoes in the final days of World War II after making a secret delivery to the island of Tinian with components of the nuclear weapons the U.S. dropped on Japan. The ship sunk within 12 minutes in the Philippine Sea on Jul. 30, 1945. Only 316 of the 1,196 men on board survived, including Captain Charles Butler McVay III.

The ship’s discovery this August follows a number of previous unsuccessful efforts in the decades since the war. Successful discovery was aided by information from a naval landing craft sighting on the night the ship sank, information gained from a Naval History and Heritage Command historian last year, and the use of RV Petrel’s subsea equipment capable of diving to 6,000 m.

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