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WWII ship where Sullivan brothers died discovered on St. Patrick's Day

22 March 2018

Light cruiser the Juneau was only in service for a year before being sunk at the Battle of Guadalcanal.

The expedition team members said in a statement that they used sonar technology to identify the wreck, before sending in a remotely operated underwater vehicle, with a camera.

The USS Juneau, in New York Harbor. Courtesy the U.S. National Archives.The prop of the USS Juneau resting on the seafloor.

On St. Patrick's Day (March 17), the discovery of a long-lost WWII shipwreck offered a bittersweet ending to the tale of five Irish-American brothers who served on the vessel and died together when it sank.

The tragic story of the fallen Sullivan brothers shocked the nation, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt penned a letter to their mother offering "the condolence and gratitude of our country", and affirming that "we, who remain to carry on the fight, must maintain the spirit in the knowledge that such sacrifice is not in vain", the NHHC reported.

WWII ship where Sullivan brothers died discovered on St. Patrick's Day
WWII ship where Sullivan brothers died discovered on St. Patrick's Day

The USS Juneau had a short service history only being commissioned just under a year prior to it sinking.

Philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder Allen has announced that wreckage of the sunken ship on which five brothers died in World War II has been discovered in the South Pacific. Up to 115 crew survived the explosion but most died as a nearby United States task force stayed away, fearing a Japanese attack. Although approximately 115 of Juneau's crew reportedly survived the explosion, including possibly as many as two of the five Sullivan brothers, naval forces did not undertake rescue effort for several days and only 10 men were rescued from the water eight days after the sinking. And the Sullivans-Joseph, Francis, Albert, Madison, and George, from Waterloo, Iowa-made their feelings clear: They served together, or they didn't serve at all. According to naval historians, the brothers' deaths became a rallying cry for the allied forces.

The Sullivans, George, Frank, Joe, Matt and Al, were aged from 27 down to 20. "My time on The Sullivans and the relationship I formed with the ship's sponsor, Kelly, the granddaughter of Albert, are some of my most cherished memories", said Brown.

Six years of Allen's undersea exploration have led to the rediscovery of a number of lost wrecks and maritime paraphernalia: with the Royal Navy, the bell of the HMS Hood; the Japanese battleship Musashi; the Italian destroyer RN Artigliere; the USS Indianapolis; the Japanese IJN Yamashiro; and, earlier this month, the aircraft carrier USS Lexington, known as the "Lady Lex".

WWII ship where Sullivan brothers died discovered on St. Patrick's Day