HELENA, Mont. (AP) - Nearly 75 years after the USS Helena was sunk by Japanese torpedoes in the waters off the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific, an expedition backed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen reported finding its wreckage.
The March 23 discovery revives stories of the battle-tested ship's endurance and the nearly unbelievable survival story of 165 of its crewmen. In all, 732 of the 900 crew survived the July 5, 1943, sinking.
Most of the crew was rescued out of the water and another group was picked up nearby the next day. But a third group spent nearly five days adrift in life rafts before the dehydrated and emaciated men decided their best chance of survival was to land on an island. A group of natives and an Australian missionary aided and protected them until they were rescued.
The wreckage was found about a half mile (860 meters) below the surface. The team identified the ship by the number 50 on its side and by comparing the wreck to the USS Helena's schematics.
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