Paul G. Allen, a philanthropist and an entrepreneur, led a team of civilian researchers who discovered the wreckage of the USS Indianapolis 18,000 feet beneath the surface of the Philippine Sea on Friday. The Navy made the announcement of the finding yesterday – 72 years after the WWII warship was struck by torpedoes from a Japanese submarine.

The USS Indianapolis had taken components to the island of Tinian for building the atomic bomb dubbed “Little Boy” that the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945. The ship was headed for the Philippines when torpedoes hit. The USS Indianapolis sank within minutes on July 30, 1945.

Some crew members who survived are still alive

There were 1,196 Marines and sailors aboard and insufficient time to send a distress signal or to deploy and use life-saving equipment, the U.S. Navy stated. Around 300 people stayed aboard and went down with the ship. Nearly 900 people abandoned ship but roughly 600 died within a week following shark attacks, drowning, dehydration, and exposure. According to the Navy, there are 22 surviving crew members who are still alive out of the 316 people who survived the warship sinking.

Sam Cox is the director of the Naval History and Heritage Command. He said that even following defeats and disasters, sacrifice should never be forgotten. He also said the crew of the USS Indianapolis can inspire sailors “enduring situations of mortal peril,” CNN reported.

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USS Indianapolis cannot be disturbed by law

The ship has protected status as an official war grave and cannot be disturbed. Naval archaeologists, according to the Washington Post, will see what data can be retrieved. The Navy has stated that the precise location of the USS Indianapolis will stay “confidential and restricted,” Stars and Stripes relayed.

In 2016, Naval historian Dr. Richard Hulver researched and found new data about the ship’s final movements. The information served as a guide for searching a new position, which was west of the original area searched. Hulver, also with the Naval History and Heritage Command, discovered that a sighting of the Indianapolis was recorded by a naval landing craft only hours before the warship was struck by torpedoes.

Allen said Americans owe gratitude to the ship’s crew for their sacrifice, persistence, and courage “in the face of horrendous circumstances,” Stars and Stripes noted. He further said it was humbling for him to honor the crew of the Indianapolis and their families after discovering the ship that had a pivotal role in bringing WWII to a close.

WWII vessel property of U.S. Navy

The civilian expedition used Allen’s Research Vessel Petrel. The 250-foot vessel, with state-of-the-art equipment, has the capacity to dive 6,000 meters (equivalent to nearly four miles). The expedition crew was comprised of 13 people. They plan to survey the site. While staying in compliance with United States’ laws, the expedition team will also tour the ship’s wreckage and search for war graves.

The Navy affirmed that the USS Indianapolis is still very much the property of the U.S. Navy. The Navy also assures that Allen’s 13-member expedition crew is compliant with U.S. laws and has collaborated with the Navy throughout the duration of its search.