The USS Indianapolis has been located off the coast of the Philippines after it was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine during the final days of World War Two

After 72 years, the wreck of the USS Indianapolis has finally been found.

The World War Two cruiser sank in the early hours of 30 July 1945 after she was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine while sailing from Guam to the Philippines.

The ship, which had just completed a secret mission delivering components of the atomic bomb used in Hiroshima, sank in 12 minutes, making it impossible for the crew to send a distress signal or deploy much of its life-saving equipment.

USS Indianapolis before she delivered components of the Atomic bomb

The cruiser at the Mare Island Navy Yard in Northern California, 10 July, 1945, after her final overhaul and repair of combat damage. Credit: US Navy

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.

The wreck of the USS Indianapolis was discovered by a team of civilian researchers led by Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Paul Allen.

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It was located by the expedition crew of Research Vessel (R/V) Petrel, which is owned by Allen, 3.4 miles below the surface of the Philippine Sea.

Allen said finding the ship was “truly humbling”.

A World War Two Ship docked

The ship docked in Northern California. Credit: US Navy

“As Americans, we all owe a debt of gratitude to the crew for their courage, persistence and sacrifice in the face of horrendous circumstances,” he said.

“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,” added Allen.

Others have searched for USS Indianapolis in the past.

The success of Allen’s expedition is being put down to the R/V Petrel’s state-of-the-art subsea equipment which is capable of diving to 6,000 metres, as well as new information about the position of the USS Indianapolis when she went down.

A World War Two ship

Bow of the USS Indianapolis. Credit: US Navy

The wreck of the ship, which still belongs to the US Navy, will be treated as a war grave.

The US Navy said the exact location will remain confidential and confirmed that it collaborated with the 13-strong team on R/V Petrel during the expedition.

The team will now continue surveying the full wreck site and will conduct a live tour of the wreckage in the next few weeks.

Paul Allen’s expedition team has previously found two other World War Two ships, the Japanese battleship, Musashi and the Italian WWII destroyer, Artigliere.

His team was also responsible for retrieving and restoring the ship’s bell from the British Navy’s battle cruiser, HMS Hood.