Wreckage of Sullivans' USS Juneau found off Solomon Islands

Cheryl Sanders
March 21, 2018

USS Juneau Amphibious Transport Dock:photo credit/kimt.comAn expedition in the South Pacific Ocean funded by Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Paul Allen has discovered the wreckage of a famous U.S. warship that was attacked by the Japanese during the Second World War, claiming more than 600 lives.

The Juneau was sunk by a Japanese torpedo during the Battle of Guadalcanal on November 13, 1942, leading to the deaths of 687 sailors - including the five Sullivan Brothers.

The Research Vessel Petrel's autonomous underwater vehicle first located the Juneau wreck on its side scanner radar on Saturday.

In an audio accompanying a video of the wreckage, Robert Kraft, director of subsea operations for the expedition, noted it was appropriate the Juneau was discovered on St. Patrick's Day, given the Sullivan brothers' Irish heritage. "But [it] is an unexpected coincidence to the Sullivan brothers and all the service members who were lost 76 years ago".

WATERLOO - Saturday's discovery of the wreckage of the USS Juneau, on which Waterloo's five Sullivan brothers served and perished with almost 700 shipmates during World War II, was an emotional, bittersweet experience for descendants. Rich Brown, commander, Naval Surface Forces, in a statement.

The Sullivan brothers - George, 27; Francis 'Frank, ' 25; Joseph 'Red, ' 23; Madison 'Matt, ' 22; and Albert 'Al, ' 19 - had become minor celebrities before they even embarked on the USS Juneau.

A crew financed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen discovered the wreckage by sonar Saturday, then verified the discovery by video Sunday.

"There's over 700 Navy families affected by this and my heart goes out to all those people", said Kelly Sullivan, granddaughter of Albert Sullivan and grandniece of George, Francis, Joseph and Madison Sullivan, who all died after the Juneau was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine and sunk on November 13, 1942. Because the Juneau sank in 30 seconds and due to the risk of further Japanese attacks, the American task force did not stay to check for survivors. A second torpedo hit the ship hours later on its port side, creating a significant explosion that cut the ship in half and killed most of the men onboard.

Remaining ships assumed that there had been no survivors on USS Juneau and fearing that there would be more attacks by the Japanese, they departed. Up to 115 crew survived the explosion but most died as a nearby U.S. task force stayed away, fearing a Japanese attack. The brothers refused to serve unless assigned to the same ship, so the policy was not enforced. The crew embodies the ship's motto, "We Stick Together" each day.

The Sullivan family's loss touched the nation.

Mr Allen has an expedition team that has reported finding wreckage of other ships, including the aircraft carrier USS Lexington, also sunk during World War II. His team also was responsible for retrieving the ship's bell from the HMS Hood for presentation to the British Navy in honor of its heroic service.

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