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How the USS Indianapolis, WWII Navy ship with a dramatic history, was finally rediscovered


And now to our NEWSHOUR Shares, something
that caught our eye that may be of interest to you, too. After more than seven decades, the remains
of one of the worst disasters U.S. naval history have been found, thanks to a wealthy philanthropist,
a Navy historian and a state-of-the-art research vessel. The NEWSHOUR`s Julia Griffin explains. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s it, Paul. We`ve got it. The Indy. JULIA GRIFFIN, PBS NEWSHOUR CORRESPONDENT
(voice-over): With those words, a 72-year old mystery was solved, and a historical treasure
rediscovered on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean: the wreckage of the World War II naval
cruiser, the USS Indianapolis. On July 30th, 1945, the Indianapolis was at
sea, having just completed a top-secret mission delivering key components of the atomic bomb
Little Boy to a naval base in the Northern Mariana Islands, when it was torpedoed by
a Japanese submarine. Just 15 minutes later, the ship that survived
the Pearl Harbor attack was underwater. Eight hundred of her 1,196 sailors are thought
to have initially survived the sinking, but with the U.S. Navy unaware of the loss, the
men were forced to float. For four days in shark-infested waters before
being spotted by a patrolling bomber plane. Ultimately, only 317 survived the ordeal. For decades, the final resting place of the
Indianapolis was lost to the ocean. RICHARD HULVER, NAVAL HISTORIAN: All the paperwork
is lost. There was no signal that went out. So, basically, we had nothing but the recollections
of the crew, the survivors. So, it was really imprecise location at the
beginning. GRIFFIN: But last year, naval historian Richard
Hulver discovered naval landing craft LST 779 had passed the Indianapolis just hours
before the attack. HULVER: So, about 11 hours before Indianapolis
was sunk. If you can figure out where LST 779 was, that
gives you another point on that, another data point on that route that can give you a better
idea. GRIFFIN: With the new data point in hand,
a civilian research team led by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen took up the search again. PAUL ALLEN, CO-FOUNDER, MICROSOFT: We try
to do these both as really exciting examples of underwater archaeology and as tributes
to the brave men that went down on these ships. GRIFFIN: This time, the research vessel turned
it`s attention west of the original location estimate and hunted through a new, 600-square-mile
patch of the Pacific Ocean. Ultimately, one of the team`s remotely-operated
underwater vehicles spotted the ship, its anchor and other paraphernalia, more than
18,000 feet below the surface. Naval History and Heritage Command Director
Sam Cox hopes the discovery will underscore more than just the ship`s demise. SAM COX, DIRECTOR, NAVAL HISTORY AND HERITAGE
COMMAND: Even in a great tragedy like this one, there is valor, there is bravery. And in the case of this crew that made the
ultimate sacrifice, you know, what they did needs to be remembered and not just for getting
torpedoed and sunk. They were heroes. GRIFFIN: Only 22 crew members of the Indianapolis
are still alive today. For the PBS NEWSHOUR, I`m Julia Griffin.

Norman Bunn

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