The wreckage of a lost US warship has been found 72 years after a Japanese submarine torpedoed it towards the end of World War II, the media reported on Sunday.

A team of civilian researchers led by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen discovered the USS Indianapolis’s wreckage on Friday on the floor of the Pacific Ocean, 18,000 feet below the surface, off the coast of the Philippines, reports CNN.

“To be able to honour the brave men of the USS Indianapolis and their families through the discovery of a ship that played such a significant role in ending World War II is truly humbling,” Allen told the media late Saturday.

“As Americans, we all owe a debt of gratitude to the crew for their courage, persistence and sacrifice in the face of horrendous circumstances… Our search for the rest of the wreckage will continue.”

The Indianapolis sank in 12 minutes, making it impossible for it to send a distress signal or deploy life-saving equipment, CNN quoted.

Before the attack, on July 30, 1945, it had just completed a secret mission delivering components of the atomic bomb used in Hiroshima that brought an end to the war in the Pacific, according to the Naval History and Heritage Command in Washington.

Most of the ship’s 1,196 sailors and Marines survived the sinking only to succumb to exposure, dehydration, drowning and shark attacks. Only 316 survived, according to the US Navy.

Of the survivors, 22 are alive today.