A maritime history mystery has been solved by none other than Microsoft co-founder and billionaire Paul Allen: He led a search team that found the USS Indianapolis, which was lost 72 years ago in the Philippine Sea during World War II, the U.S. Naval Institute News reports (http://tinyurl.com/ussind). The ship is pictured in its heyday, courtesy of the U.S. Navy.
As an aside: Local yachting fans might remember that Allen moored his lovely toy, the 176-foot Meduse, off Mill Pond in 2012 for a bit, causing quite a stir.
Back to the Indianapolis: Near the end of World War II, the ship had just delivered parts of the “Little Boy” atomic bomb (the one dropped on Hiroshima) when it was torpedoed on July 30, 1945, sinking in 12 minutes.
She sank so fast, in fact, no distress signal was sent, and because the mission was secret, no one initially realized the ship was missing. Of the 1,196 aboard, 800 survived the sinking, but several days of being in the water and attacked by sharks winnowed the final number of survivors down to 316. Nineteen are still alive today.
People have been looking for the wreck for years, but it took a Navy historian finding records of the last sighting of the ship to narrow the probable search area down to 600 square miles — which is when Paul Allen, his team of 13 and his research vessel the R/V Petrel entered the picture. Collaborating with the U.S. Navy, they found the Indianapolis in 18,000 feet of water. Now considered a war grave, the location is still a secret.
“I’m very happy that they found it. It’s been a long 72 years coming,” 93-year-old Indianapolis survivor Arthur Leenerman commented. “I have wished for years that they would find it.”