Paul Allen expedition finds sunken WWII destroyer

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The Research Vessel Petrel, owned by Microsoft co-founder and Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen, has found the remains of the first U.S. warship to engage the enemy on Dec. 7, 1941.

The USS Ward, launched in 1918, is credited with firing the U.S.’ opening shots in World War II when it sank an 80-foot Japanese midget submarine outside Pearl Harbor just before the Japanese sneak attack on the U.S. Pacific fleet. The submarine was following the USS Antares cargo ship into the harbor when the Ward spotted its periscope.

“We have attacked, fired upon and dropped depth charges on a submarine operating in defensive sea areas,” the Ward’s commander radioed, according to Stars and Stripes.

The USS Ward went down three years later in the Philippines after being hit by kamikazes. The Ward’s crew abandoned ship, with only one injury, as flames overtook it.

Allen’s research vessel found the Ward and five Japanese ships involved in the Battle of Surigao Strait. The Petrel used an underwater drone on Nov. 30 to document the sunken ship’s remains, returning with stunning photographs and video of the ship’s guns, wheelhouse and even broken chinaware.

“The Petrel and its capabilities, the technology it has and the research we’ve done, are the culmination of years of dedication and hard work,” Allen’s subsea-operations director Robert Kraft said in a statement.