(Paul G. Allen's Vulcan Inc.)

The wreckage of a World War II US Navy aircraft carrier was found on the floor of the South Pacific Ocean more than 76 years after it sank.

The USS Hornet sank during the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands on Oct. 26, 1942, killing about 140 of its 2,200 sailors and crew members. It lay on the seabed until January 2019, when it was discovered more than 17,000 feet (5,000 meters) below the ocean's surface.


The discovery was announced on Feb. 12, 2019 by Vulcan, a company founded by Paul Allen, the Microsoft cofounder who died in October 2018. Allen's estate owns the RV Petrel research vessel that found the Hornet.

An F4F Wildcat aircraft with its wings folded was discovered with the wreckage of the USS Hornet.

(Paul Allen's Vulcan Inc.)

Robert Kraft, Vulcan's director of subsea operations, said in a statement that the mission to find the Hornet was in honor of Allen.

"Paul Allen was particularly interested in aircraft carriers, so this was a discovery that honors his memory," Kraft said.

He added: "We had the Hornet on our list of WWII warships that we wanted to locate because of its place in history as a capitol carrier that saw many pivotal moments in naval battles."

The RV Petrel deployed its autonomous underwater vehicle in the search for the USS Hornet.

(Paul G. Allen's Vulcan Inc.)

The Hornet was commissioned in October 1941, launched the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo, and played a key role in the US victory in the Battle of Midway with Japan in 1942, sinking four Japanese aircraft carriers.

But the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, one year after it was commissioned, was its last fight. On the first day, it was hit by four bombs and two torpedoes in 10 minutes. Most crew members were transferred to another ship, while others tried to repair the damage.

It was attacked again with a torpedo and two bombs, and the rest of the crew abandoned it. It sank the next morning.

Richard Nowatzki, a gunner on the ship who survived the battle, told CBS News that when enemy planes left, "we were dead in the water."

"They used armor-piercing bombs," he said. "Now when they come down, you hear 'em going through the decks ... plink, plink, plink, plink ... and then when they explode the whole ship shakes."

Damage on the hull of the USS Hornet.

(Paul G. Allen's Vulcan Inc.)

A 10-person crew on the 250-foot Petrel found the wreck on the first mission of its autonomous underwater vehicle by using data from national and naval archives, Vulcan said.

A 10-person crew on the 250-foot Petrel found the wreck on the first mission of its autonomous underwater vehicle by using data from national and naval archives, Vulcan said.

Featured image: Paul G. Allen's Vulcan Inc.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.