USS Indianapolis
Wikimedia Commons

Legendary Cruiser USS Indianapolis Finally Found, 72 Years After Being Lost

After 72 years, the USS Indianapolis has been located.

Most everyone knows the story of the USS Indianapolis. The cruiser sank in just 12 minutes back in 1945 after being struck by Japanese torpedoes in the Pacific Ocean after a secret mission to deliver the Hiroshima bomb.

But many probably didn't realize the exact location of the wreckage was a mystery. Until now, that is. NPR reports the great warship has finally been located an incredible 18,000 feet beneath the surface of the Philippine Sea.

The ship's locators are Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and a group of researchers who are planning to completely survey the site as weather permits with their research ship, the R/V Petrel. According to Allen's website, the Petrel was recently retrofitted with new equipment that allowed the search of such tremendous depths.

The researchers were also working with new information that indicated a different search area further west from the area the ship was originally believed to have sunk.

The finders are hoping the discovery will bring some closure to the 22 survivors still alive today.

"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 during World War II is truly humbling," Paul Allen wrote on his website. "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."

Allen also posted some spectacular underwater photos of some of the wreckage. It appears to be in remarkably good shape for being over three miles under the ocean for 70 years. The "USS Indianapolis" name can clearly be read in some of the photos.

The Indianapolis sank while returning from a top secret mission to deliver the components for the Hiroshima bomb to the island of Tinian in July of 1945. Of course, the bomb ultimately led to the Japanese surrender and the end of World War II.

Unfortunately for the crew of the ship, there were few lifeboats and most who survived the initial sinking ended up in the ocean. There, hundreds more died of exposure or shark attack.

Of course, the story of the ship became even more legendary when the movie Jaws hit theaters in 1975. The character of Quint, portrayed by Robert Shaw, delivers an incredibly haunting account of the sinking.

Because the ship is still considered property of the U.S. Navy, the exact location of the wreck won't be revealed to the public. But it's good to know the final resting place of so many U.S. sailors is finally known and can serve as a deep-sea memorial to the lives lost there.