The USS Hornet aircraft carrier had an extremely busy year and six days in service, taking part in key World War II events in the Pacific including the Battle of Midway and the Doolittle Raid before being sunk by Japanese forces in the Battle of Santa Cruz Island on Oct. 27, 1942. Now, almost 77 years later, the ship's resting place has finally been found. An expedition crew funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen located the shipwreck near the Solomon Islands late last month, NPR reports. The ship's remains were found almost 17,500 feet below the ocean surface with the help of naval reports from the era, scans from a deep-sea sonar drone, and a dive from an autonomous underwater vehicle. To protect the wreck, the exact location will be kept secret.
Some 140 sailors died in the battle, though most of the 2,200 crew members were able to abandon the ship after it was badly damaged by Japanese bombers and torpedo planes. "I felt the heat and concussion from an explosion on the aft hangar deck. I glanced under my arm and saw burning shrapnel bounce up to me," recalled survivor Wayne L. Cullen. "All hell was breaking loose." Photos sent back from the wreck show anti-aircraft guns and military vehicles on the deck. Richard Nowatzki, a 95-year-old who served as a gunner on the ship, reflected on his lost shipmates and his own good fortune after CBS shared the discovery with him. He also quipped: "If you go down to my locker, there's 40 bucks in it, you can have it!" (Last year, a wreck from a WWII battle in Alaska was discovered.)