10 Historical Mysteries Solved In Recent Years

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8. Finding The USS Indianapolis

In 1945, the sinking of the USS Indianapolis led to the greatest loss of life from a single ship in US Navy history. The cruiser was on a classified mission to deliver parts for the “Little Boy” atomic bomb at the US Army Air Force Base at Tinian. Afterward, the ship entered training duty but was soon torpedoed by a Japanese submarine on its way to the Philippines. Of the 1,196 crewmen aboard, only 316 survived.

The ship firmly entered pop culture with the release of Jaws, in which Captain Quint, depicted as a survivor of the Indianapolis, told the memorable story of how the men who went into the water were preyed upon by sharks for four days before being rescued. As for the vessel, it sank in just 12 minutes before sending a distress signal, resting on the bottom of the ocean somewhere between Guam and the Philippines.

Over the last two decades, two expeditions tried and failed to find the wreckage using modern technology. In 2016, a new lead emerged when records showed that the Indianapolis passed by another ship 11 hours before being attacked. Using the other vessel’s known route, a new expedition bankrolled by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen estimated the location of the shipwreck. Over a year later, they finally found the USS Indianapolis in the North Pacific Ocean at a depth of 5,500 meters (18,000 ft).[3]

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