An expedition in the South Pacific Ocean funded by Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Paul Allen has discovered the wreckage of a famous US warship that was attacked by the Japanese during the Second World War, claiming more than 600 lives.
The billionaire’s personal search team located the remains of the USS Juneau off the coast of the Solomon Islands on St Patrick’s Day.
The Juneau was sunk by Japanese torpedoes in November 1942, claiming the lives of 687 men, including five brothers known as the Sullivans from Waterloo, Iowa. The men became navy heroes and had a destroyer named after them.
Despite naval policy stipulating that siblings could not serve in the same military unit, brothers George, Francis, Joseph, Madison and Albert refused to serve in the navy unless they were posted to the same unit.
The ship, known as an Atlanta-class light cruiser was found more than 4,000 metres below the surface, resting on the floor of the ocean.
“We certainly didn’t plan to find the Juneau on St. Patrick’s Day. The variables of these searches are just too great,” said Robert Kraft, director of subsea operations for Allen.
“We’re dealing with an environment out here that is very harsh … It’s thousands of meters deep and it’s very unpredictable. We’re putting, you know, a lot of electronics and high voltage down in very deep waters and sea waters where it shouldn’t belong, and so that always presents challenges.”
An autonomous underwater vehicle dispatched by Allen’s expedition ship the Petrel confirmed the wreckage was indeed the Juneau, after video recorded by the underwater vehicle was analyzed by experts on board the Petrel.
“As the fifth commanding officer of USS The Sullivans (DDG 68), a ship named after five brothers, I am excited to hear that Allen and his team were able to locate the light cruiser USS Juneau that sunk during the Battle of Guadalcanal,” said Vice Adm. Rich Brown, commander, Naval Surface Forces.
“The story of the USS Juneau crew and Sullivan brothers epitomize the service and sacrifice of our nation’s greatest generation.”
An underwater video image shows a propeller, part of wreckage from the USS Juneau.
According to information from Paul Allen the USS Juneau was only active for a year prior to its sinking. The November 1942 battle was short and brutal, and the ship split in two under torpedo fire, killing most of the men onboard immediately.
The Juneau sank very quickly – reportedly within 30 seconds – and despite there being approximately 115 survivors, a serious rescue effort was not initiated for several days, by with time only ten men were rescued from the disaster.
Expeditions funded by Allen have resulted in the discovery of the USS Lexington, the USS Indianapolis, the USS Ward, the USS Astoria, Japanese battleship Musashi and the Italian second world war destroyer Artigliere.
As Published by the Guardian.