Lost World War II Ship Recovered : A Well Thought Out Scream by James Riordan
Everyone knows that having a lot of money gives you the freedom to what you want. Usually, however, what people who are newly rich want is a whole lot of the same kind of things they had when they were poor. They want a lot more house, a lot more cars, a lot more vacation and a lot more adventures with the opposite sex. Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen no doubt has had all of those things since he and Bill Gates struck computer gold. But, like Gates, Allen seems called to use a lot of his money for more nobler tasks than living the high life. Paul Allen co founded Microsoft with Gates back in the mid-70s and he is estimated to have net worth of $20.2 billion. A prominent resident of Seattle he owns both the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks and of the and the Portland Trail Blazers of the National Basketball Association. He is also part-owner of the Seattle Sounders FC which joined Major League Soccer in 2009. He is also the founder of Allen Institute for Brain Science, Institute for Artificial Intelligence,[ Institute for Cell Science, and the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle. I’ve been to the museum and it offer an excellent history of popular culture. When I was there it housed a fantastic exhibit on Jimi Hendrix and another on Nirvana, both of whom sprung from the Seattle music scene.
Well, another interesting thing that Paul Allen does with his money is hunt for lost ships. In March 2015, an Allen expedition team discovered the remains of the Japanese battleship Musashi, and this past March his team found the Artigliere, a World War II destroyer. But this past year saw his biggest discovery yet, the location of the USS Indianapolis at 5500m (18,000 feet) deep in the Philippine Sea. Allen tweeted out his find this past Saturday, seventy-two years after the ship had been sunk. The heavy cruiser, carrying 1,197 sailors and Marines, was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine while sailing back to the Philippines after delivering components for “Little Boy,” the atomic bomb that helped end World War II. It took only 12 minutes to sink.
Nine hundred crewmen made it through the initial sinking, but only 316 of them survived by the time help arrived five days later on Aug. 2. As dramatically described by Robert Shaw in the film Jaws many of the men were killed by sharks. Others died of exposure or thirst, or drowned. Families of those aboard the ship found out about the deaths of their loved ones just as the rest of the country was celebrating the conclusion of World War II.
Allen led a 13-person team on his 250-foot research ship, the R/V Petrel. The latest break in the search for the wreckage came in July 2016, when the Naval History and Heritage Command Communication and Outreach Division reported that a sailor had confirmed that a tank landing ship, LST-779, had passed the Indianapolis 11 hours before the torpedo struck. That backed up the testimony of Captain Charles McVay III and was confirmed by deck logs. That finding narrowed the search — to a 600 square miles of open ocean
Upon finding the sunken vessel Allen tweeted : We’ve located wreckage of USS Indianapolis in Philippine Sea at 5500m below the sea. ’35’ on hull is our first confirmation.
Paul Allen tweeted “Important chapter of WWII history concludes–I hope survivors/families gain some closure. Anchor and ship’s bell seen here. Allen also issued the following statement: “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. 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’s team is still surveying the site of the wreckage and plans to conduct a live tour of the wreckage in the next few weeks. The crew is working with the Navy and plans to honor the remaining 22 USS Indianapolis crew members and families of crew members. “Even in the worst defeats and disasters there is valor and sacrifice that deserves to never be forgotten,” said Sam Cox, director of the Naval History and Heritage Command, in a statement. “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.”