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Billionaire finds USS Indianapolis in the Philippine Sea 72 years after it sunk

Posted: 1:54 PM, Aug 19, 2017
Updated: 2017-08-21 22:41:43-04
USS Indianapolis found in Phillipine Sea

INDIANAPOLIS -- Seventy-two years after two torpedoes fired from a Japanese submarine sunk cruiser USS Indianapolis, the ship’s wreckage was found resting on the seafloor on Saturday – more than 18,000 feet below the Pacific Ocean’s surface.

The ship was found Saturday by a search team led by Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist Paul Allen. The team was assisted by historians from the Naval History and Heritage Command in Washington. 

The USS Indianapolis sunk July 30, 1945, in the final days of World War II after completing a secret mission to the island Tinian, delivering components of the atomic bomb "Little Boy" dropped on Hiroshima. 

USS Indianapolis Survivor, and Vice-chairman of the Survivors' organization, Dick Thelen, 90, was absolutely surprised by the news that his ship had been located.  "I never thought I'd see this day come!.  I'm glad it was found."

Mary O'Donnell, who lives in Beech Grove, said her late husband was aboard the USS Indianapolis when it was destroyed. She said he survived the attack and was one of more than 310 sailors to survive.

"Well my son called me to tell me that he had heard it and I was very very excited about it," said O;Donnell. "I mean it's something we've waited for for a long long time and I think all the fellows that are living will be very happy and also I think it's kind of a closure for all those who have died."

The ship sunk in 12 minutes, before a distress signal could be sent or much of the life-saving equipment could be deployed, according to a statement from the Naval History and Heritage Command in Washington, D.C. Because of the secrecy surrounding the mission, the ship wasn’t listed as overdue

The Indianapolis served President Roosevelt as the ship of state, and Admiral Spruance as the 5th Fleet flagship in WWII.  

Around 800 of the ship’s 1,196 sailors and Marines survived the sinking, but after four to five days in the water, suffering exposure, dehydration, drowning, and shark attacks, only 316 survived.

USS INDIANAPOLIS |  From 'Lucky Indy' to one of the worst naval disasters in history