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VIDEO: Paul Allen Finds Sullivan Brothers’ Cruiser USS Juneau

The Sullivan brothers on USS Juneau (CL-52) in 1942). US Navy Photo

This post has been updated with video from R/V Petrel of the wreck of USS Juneau.

The research team funded by billionaire Paul Allen has found the wreckage of the Atlanta-class cruiser USS Juneau (CL-52) near the Solomon Islands, according to a Monday announcement.

The ship was sunk during the 1942 Battle of Guadalcanal by an Imperial Japanese Navy torpedo, killing 687 crewmembers. Aboard were the five Sullivan brothers. The Sullivans joined the Navy in early 1942, asked to serve together and were assigned to Juneau. The brothers were from Waterloo, Iowa.

The crew of Allen-owned Research Vessel (R/V) Petrel discovered the wreck on St. Patrick’s Day as part of an ongoing research expedition in the South Pacific.

“We certainly didn’t plan to find the Juneau on St. Patrick’s Day. The variables of these searches are just too great,” Robert Kraft, director of subsea operations for Paul Allen, said in a statement.
“But finding the USS Juneau on St. Patrick’s Day is an unexpected coincidence to the Sullivan brothers and all the service members who were lost 76 years ago.”

Prop from USS Juneau (CL-52) discovered by R/V Petrel

The death of the Sullivan brothers was a major touchstone for Americans at home during the early days of U.S. involvement in World War II.

“News of the deaths of all five brothers became a rallying point for the war effort, with posters and speeches honoring their sacrifice. Extensive newspaper and radio coverage of the incident made the loss of the brothers a national story, producing ‘a wave of humility and sympathy,’ and condolences poured in on the Sullivan family in Waterloo, Iowa,” according to Navy History and Heritage Command.

The Navy has named two destroyers in honor of the Sullivan brothers.

“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,” Vice Adm. Rich Brown, commander of Naval Surface Forces, said in a statement.
“The story of the USS Juneau crew and Sullivan brothers epitomize the service and sacrifice of our nation’s greatest generation.”

Allen has also discovered the wrecks of cruiser USS Indianapolis and carrier USS Lexington.

  • NavySubNuke

    Well done to Allen and his team. What an amazing voyage for them to have found JUNEAU and LEXINGTON on the same trip in such a short period of time.
    For those who would like to learn more about the sinking of the JUNEAU I highly recommend Neptune’s Inferno by Hornfischer. I guarantee you will learn more than you expect to.

    • Rocco

      Agreed! Kudos to Allen for taking the time & resources to do this instead of doing what most billionaires do.

    • Ctrot

      I’ll second the recommendation of “Neptune’s Inferno”, excellent book. Also Hornfischers “Ship of Ghosts” about the lose of USS Houston and here crews’ POW experience.

      • johnbull

        His “Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors” is a fantastic read as well.

        • Ctrot

          Yes, read that a decade ago and it’s time for another go.

    • muzzleloader

      I read that book last fall, a fantastic read. I remember Hornfischer’ narrative on the destruction of the Juneau. The torpedo hit was cataclysmic, a huge flash of light accompanied by a deafening roar, and the Juneau was gone.

      • Brian Jones

        Technically it was an AA cruiser, an oversize destroyer escorting carriers against aerial attack and as unarmored as a Fletcher class DD. Pretty unequal contest with a Long Lance torpedo 🙁

        • Alex “Hurly” Hurlbut

          AA cruiser “designation” came much later.

    • Bhess

      I read that once a year, still gripping.

  • James Bowen

    Very interesting.

  • thebard3

    Thanks to Paul Allen and his team for their devotion to our heritage. The losses of Juneau, Indianapolis and Lexington were defining moments in our history. I hope they make some further video and photographic records available to the public soon.

  • John Eakins

    How truly wonderful that’s such a great historical artifact has been located, we need to cherish these and hold them up as honorable symbols of America and the Heart and Soul of the American fighting man and woman. Sadly our great history is not taught in schools that now seem to spend more time demonizing us for using the atomic bomb to end a horrible War brought on by a sneak attack. Revisionist history seems to be the only kind taught in schools anymore so it’s great that a person like Paul Allen has used his money and his position to help ReDiscover the greatness of America and to highlight the great sacrifices that paid for snowflakes 2 find safe spaces and cry if someone says something they don’t like. Kudos to you Paul Allen and your team.

    • Rocco

      Kudos!! Now that they are found maybe a combination ceremony can be done in honor of the men who perished aboard all 3.

  • John B. Morgen

    Well done!

  • old guy

    Many kudos to Allen. A great find. One of the worst individual family tragedies of WW2.

  • Zorcon, Fidei Defensor

    Cool, what else can I say?

  • Cynthia Swensen mcalister

    That’s my grandfather’s ship and I am cruising the South Pacific now on Holland America. My brother, Lyman Knute Swensen sent me the news. How exciting!

    • bluewaternavy

      God Rest your Grandad and his shipmates. I’d met Frank Holmgren (a survivor of JUNEAU) at Monmouth Park racecourse many years ago, he thought CAPT Swenson a great skipper….

  • KarVer

    RIP sailors.. may your family have comfort in the knowledge of where the ship now lay.
    This shouldve made the US Main News. Sadly it didn’t. .

    Psalms 23..

  • MoonBeamWatcher

    Tip of the hat to Mr. Alien!
    Wonderful return of his wealth to those who went home to
    Jesus durring that awful period of history, WWII.

  • Chesapeakeguy

    The man and his team are certainly on a roll. Well done to all of them!

  • Jack_Hoke

    One of the destroyers that bears the name of the Sullivan brothers is preserved as a memorial at the Naval Park in Buffalo. I’m surprised the article neglected to mention this fact.

  • Tracy Johnson

    Now that we have frequent discoveries of sunken USN ships by privately funded research ships, it should become policy that an “S” maneuver should be made whenever USN ships sail over these reported locations. I read about this maneuver once maybe 20 or 30 years ago and it included an aerial picture, the USN ships were sailing over Ironbottom Sound (I think). Not that the correct coordinates were truly known back then, but the idea was proper.