Wreckage of USS Indianapolis Found 70 Years Later: Reports

August 19, 2017 Updated: August 19, 2017

The USS Indianapolis, a Portland-class heavy cruiser belonging to the U.S. Navy that was sunk by a Japanese submarine in World War II, was found, it was reported Saturday.

Paul Allen, the Microsoft co-founder and owner of the Seattle Seahawks, led a search team to find the ship. He was assisted by historians from the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) in Washington, D.C., USNI reported.

“To be able to honor the brave men of the USS Indianapolis and their families through the discovery of a ship that played such a significant role in ending World War II is truly humbling,” said Allen in a statement.

“As Americans, we all owe a debt of gratitude to the crew for their courage, persistence and sacrifice in the face of horrendous circumstances. While our search for the rest of the wreckage will continue, I hope everyone connected to this historic ship will feel some measure of closure at this discovery so long in coming.”

Reports say that the wreckage was found at a depth of 18,000 feet in the Pacific Ocean.

The ship was torpedoed in 1945 by an Imperial Japanese I-58 while on the way to the Philippines. Of the nearly 1,200 crewmen on board, about 300 died.

In popular culture, the most well-known reference to the USS Indianapolis comes from “Jaws” when actor Robert Shaw, whose character Quint is depicted as a survivor of the incident.

“Even in the worst defeats and disasters there is valor and sacrifice that deserves to never be forgotten,” Sam Cox, director of the Naval History and Heritage Command, said in a statement, USA Today reported.

“They can serve as inspiration to current and future Sailors enduring situations of mortal peril. There are also lessons learned, and in the case of the Indianapolis, lessons re-learned, that need to be preserved and passed on, so the same mistakes can be prevented, and lives saved.”

“I’m very happy that they found it. It’s been a long 72 years coming,” said Indianapolis survivor Arthur Leenerman, a 93-year-old from Mahomet, Ill. “I have wished for years that they would find it. The lost at sea families will feel pretty sad but I think finding the ship will also give them some closure. I’m glad that the search was successful. It will be interesting to see where it was found and how deep it was resting. “

“Teams have tried to find Indianapolis in the past, but failed, partly because she is over two miles down, but also because they were looking in the wrong place,” wrote an analyst, Richard Hulver, on the search. “Historical records specifying the sinking location do not exist, as no distress signal providing the location of Indianapolis was received. Allied intelligence recovered I-58‘s message to Tokyo confirming the kill, but failed to identify a specific ship or recover the position given by the Japanese.”