The wreckage of American light-cruiser USS Juneau was found 2.6 miles deep, off the coast of the Solomon Islands by a team of explorers led by billionaire Paul Allen. The vessel was blown apart during World War II’s Battle of Guadalcanal in November 1942, killing nearly 700 sailors, including the five Sullivan brothers from Waterloo, Iowa.
Allen’s official website had a statement Monday saying the USS Juneau was discovered on March 17 by the expedition crew of Research Vessel R/V Petrel. The warship was found resting on the floor of the South Pacific off the coast of the Solomon Islands 76 years after the Japanese blew it off with a torpedo.
“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 Paul Allen. “But finding the USS Juneau on Saint Patrick’s Day is an unexpected coincidence to the Sullivan brothers and all the service members who were lost 76 years ago.”
A video captured by a remotely operated sub deployed by the Vulcan Inc. crew shows the warship with its propeller, a badly torn hull, and an inscription of the ship’s name.
“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 (CL 52) 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.”
The warship was less than a year old when it sank after being struck by a Japanese torpedo that badly damaged the Atlanta-class light cruiser. However, the ship split in half when a second Japanese torpedo struck it very close to where the first one hit. The entire ship sunk to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.
“I saw the spot where the Juneau had been. The only thing visible was tremendous clouds of grey and black smoke,” recounted Lt. Roger O’Neil, a medical officer who was on the deck of the USS San Francisco when the incident took place. “The men told me that the Juneau appeared to explode instantaneously and appeared to break in two, both segments of which sunk in 20 seconds… The signalman on the bridge of the Helena was in the process of taking a message from the Juneau and had his glass trained on the signalman of that ship and reports that the signalman was blown at least 30 feet in the air.”
This is not the first such discovery made by Allen and his team. Earlier this month, the team found the wreckage of USS Lexington that was sunk by the Japanese during World War II. The aircraft carrier was discovered on the floor of the Coral Sea more than 500 miles off the eastern coast of Australia.
Last year in August, Allen-led R/V Petrel expedition discovered the wreck of the USS Indianapolis, which sank in July 1945. The carrier was struck by Japanese torpedoes and resulted in the deaths of nearly 900 crew members, while only 316 lived.