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  1. ITV Report

USS Indianapolis warship found 72 years after it was sunk in WWII

The wreckage of a US Navy warship that was torpedoed after playing a defining role in World War Two has been found in the Pacific - 72 years after it was lost at sea.

The USS Indianapolis played a key role in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima before being struck by Japanese torpedoes.

Just 316 of the 1,196 crew survived after the 12-minute sinking just after midnight on July 30, 1945 in a stretch of the Philippine Sea between Guam and Leyte Gulf.

The painted hull number 35 was filmed on the USS Indianapolis. Credit: Paul G. Allen

Around 300 instantly drowned while hundreds more who remained afloat died from exposure, dehydration, drowning and constant shark attacks.

With no time to send a distress signal four days passed before a bomber on routine patrol spotted people in the water.

The Indianapolis, which had delivered parts for the August 1945 bombing of Hiroshima, remained lost until a major breakthrough last year when a naval historian's research discovered a lead on its location.

The Indianapolis was found more than 18,000ft (5,500m) below the surface. Credit: Paul G. Allen

He found a naval landing craft had recorded a sighting of the heavy cruiser the day before it sank, which narrowed down the search area.

An expedition crew of Research Vessel Petrel, which is owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, says it located the sunken ship on the floor of the North Pacific Ocean before sending cameras down to film the wreckage.

The warship will remain in place 18,000ft (5,500m) below surface and its location confidential to protect its status under US law as a military grave.