A team of civilian researchers discovered the wreckage of a WWII-era warship on the floor of the North Pacific Ocean. The wreckage was more than 18,000 feet below the surface, according to the crew of Research Vessel Petrel, which is owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.
"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," Allen said in a press release."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."
The sinking of the USS Indianapolis, which played an important role in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, remains the Navy's single worst loss at sea.
There were 1,196 Sailors and Marines on board when two torpedoes from a Japanese submarine struck the ship on July 30, 1945. The USS Indianapolis sunk in just 12 minutes, killing about 300 people. However, many of the survivors were stranded in the water for up to five days, suffering from exposure, dehydration, drowning, and shark attacks. In the end, only 316 survived.
One key to finding the wreckage came in 2016 when Richard Hulver, a historian with the Naval History and Heritage Command, determined a new search area, according to a statement from the Navy. Hulver's research identified a naval landing craft that had recorded a sighting of the USS Indianapolis hours before it sank. That helped the research team narrow its search area.
The Navy said a 13-person expedition team is still in the process of surveying the site. They are expected to conduct a live tour of the wreckage in the next few weeks.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.