In Photos: WWII Ship Discovered 77 Years After It Sank

WWII destroyer


(Image credit: R/V Petrel)

The wreck of an Italian naval ship has been discovered nearly 77 years after it sank during World War II. The naval destroyer IT Artigliere was found more than 12,000 feet (3,700 meters) underwater in the Mediterranean Sea.

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's private company Vulcan Inc. announced that the finding was made in March by the company's research vessel (R/V) Petrel. [Read full story about the shipwreck's discovery]

Sunk in battle


(Image credit: R/V Petrel)

The IT Artigliere was damaged during the 1940 Battle of Cape Passero, a WWII sea battle between the British Navy and the Italian Royal Navy (known as the Regina Marina). According to historians, the IT Artigliere's commander and most of its crew were killed when the ship sank.

In good condition


(Image credit: R/V Petrel)

The R/V Petrel found the shipwreck in "amazingly good condition," according to David Reams, senior director for Paul Allen's maritime operations. The IT Artigliere was upright, and had experienced little corrosion or encrustation thanks to the cold, deep waters.

Letters on the hull


(Image credit: R/V Petrel)

A remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) from the R/V Petrel captured images of the wreck, which showed the letters "AR" on the hull. This documentation, along with the location of the wreck, enabled Italian naval authorities to confirm the sunken destroyer's identity.

Protecting the war grave


(Image credit: R/V Petrel)

The war grave of the IT Artigliere was left undisturbed, according to the R/V Petrel team. In respect of the ship's crew and surviving family members, the Italian government will not publically reveal the precise location of the IT Artigliere.

R/V Petrel


(Image credit: R/V Petrel)

The R/V Petrel uses underwater technology for a host of missions, ranging from locating shipwrecks to exploring ocean ecosystems, according to Vulcan researchers. For example, an August 2015 mission included the retrieval of the historic bell from the HMS Hood wreckage in the North Atlantic. The bell was presented to the British Navy as a memorial for the lives lost.

Wrecks from other battles

Musashi catapult battleship shipwreck

(Image credit: Paul Allen)

Another discovery made by the R/V Petrel was the wreck of the Japanese battleship Musashi. In March 2015, the legendary battleship was found off the coast of the Philippines. One of the biggest battleships ever built, the Musashi carried six to seven float planes that launched from a catapult system.

Musashi underwater tour

Musashi valve wheel, battleship shipwreck

(Image credit: Paul Allen)

The R/V Petrel team also provided an underwater tour of the sunken Musashi. One feature included this wheel, which was on a valve that would have been from a lower engineering area.

Kacey Deamer
Staff Writer
Kacey Deamer is a journalist for Live Science, covering planet earth and innovation. She has previously reported for Mother Jones, the Reporter's Committee for Freedom of the Press, Neon Tommy and more. After completing her undergraduate degree in journalism and environmental studies at Ithaca College, Kacey pursued her master's in Specialized Journalism: Climate Change at USC Annenberg. Follow Kacey on Twitter.