Skip to main content

Photos: WWII Battleship 'USS Juneau' Discovered

USS Juneau

Sullivan Brothers WWII sailors

(Image credit: AP/REX/Shutterstock)

Outside the Federal Shipbuilding Company yard in Kearny, New Jersey, on Oct. 25, 1941, the USS Juneau heads into open waters. The Navy ship was sunk by the Japanese during the Battle of Guadalcanal in 1942. Recently, wreckage from the USS Juneau was discovered in the South Pacific. [Read more about the discovery of the USS Juneau]

Lost in moments

Sullivan Brothers WWII sailors

(Image credit: Paul G. Allen)

On March 17, 2018, wreckage from the USS Juneau was located off the Solomon Islands by the Research Vessel (R/V) Petrel. The craft sank in 30 minutes after being hit by two torpedoes, killing 687 crewmen, including the five "Fighting Sullivan Brothers."

Resting in the deep

Sullivan Brothers WWII sailors

(Image credit: Paul G. Allen)

The USS Juneau was known for the "Fighting Sullivan Brothers," five brothers from Waterloo, Iowa, who refused to serve unless assigned to the same ship.

Evidence of time below

Sullivan Brothers WWII sailors

(Image credit: Paul G. Allen)

The Atlanta-class light cruiser sat about 13,700 feet (4,200 meters) below the ocean's surface near the Solomon Islands for 76 years before being found on St. Patrick's Day. The ship had been in service less than 12 months before the fatal battle.

Fast and furious

Sullivan Brothers WWII sailors

(Image credit: Paul G. Allen)

The five Sullivan brothers — George, Francis "Frank," Joseph, Madison "Matt" and Albert — were killed when a torpedo hit the USS Juneau on the port side; an explosion ensued, also killing most of the crew.

Unexpected find

Sullivan Brothers WWII sailors

(Image credit: Paul G. Allen)

According to the director of subsea operations aboard the R/V Petrel, Robert Kraft, "finding the USS Juneau on Saint Patrick's Day is an unexpected coincidence [allowing] us to pay final respects" to the crewmen of the vessel.

History and present meet

Sullivan Brothers WWII sailors

(Image credit: Paul G. Allen)

Using the R/V Petrel's autonomous underwater vehicle, the USS Juneau was identified by a side scan sonar. The Petrel's crew then used the ships remotely operated underwater vehicle to transmit video of the wreck for verification.

Tragic battle

Sullivan Brothers WWII sailors

(Image credit: Paul G. Allen)

During the Nov. 13, 1942 battle, following the sinking of the Juneau, the American task force was unable to search for survivors for several days because of dangers of more Japanese attacks.

Due to the delay, only 10 of as many as 125 survivors of the downed ship were rescued. [Read more about the discovery of the USS Juneau]

Thicker than water

Sullivan Brothers WWII sailors

(Image credit: Paul G. Allen)

The Sullivan brothers' refusal to serve unless serving together went against a naval policy. The loss of the five brothers became a rallying cry for the allied forces.

A legacy

Sullivan Brothers WWII sailors

(Image credit: Paul G. Allen)

In honor of the siblings, the DDG 68 was named USS "The Sullivans." According to the fifth commanding officer of "The Sullivans," the brothers "epitomize the service and sacrifice of our nation's greatest generation."

One of many

Sullivan Brothers WWII sailors

(Image credit: Paul G. Allen)

The Petrel is owned by Paul G. Allen, Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist. Allen has led expeditions responsible for finding several other shipwrecks: the USS Lexington (March 2018), USS Indianapolis (August 2017), USS Ward (November 2017), USS Astoria (February 2015), Japanese battleship Musashi (March 2015) and the Italian WWII destroyer Artigliere . The team also recovered and presented the bell from the HMS Hood to the British Navy.