USS Indianapolis (CA-35) – 30 July 1945

USS Indianapolis off Mare Island, 10 July 1945

 

Sadly, four days later after delivering the components of the atomic bomb from California to the Pacific Islands in the most highly classified naval mission of the war, USS Indianapolis is sailing alone in the center of the Philippine Sea when she is struck by two torpedoes and sunk within twelve minutes. The ship was without a sufficient number of lifeboats, her disappearance went unnoticed for almost four days and the navy search team was called off early. Therefore, only 316 men of her 1,196-man crew were rescued. This has been considered the most controversial sea disaster in American history.

For the next five nights and four days, almost three hundred miles from the nearest land, the men battle injuries, sharks, dehydration, insanity, and eventually each other. Only 316 will survive.  For the better part of a century, the story of USS Indianapolis has been understood as a sinking tale. The reality, however, is far more complicated—and compelling. Now, for the first time, thanks to a decade of original research and interviews with 107 survivors and eyewitnesses, Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic tell the complete story of the ship, her crew, and their final mission to save one of their own.

part of the Indianapolis crew

It begins in 1932, when Indianapolis is christened and launched as the ship of state for President Franklin Roosevelt. After Pearl Harbor, Indianapolis leads the charge to the Pacific Islands, notching an unbroken string of victories in an uncharted theater of war.

Then, under orders from President Harry Truman, the ship takes aboard a superspy and embarks on her final world-changing mission: delivering the core of the atomic bomb to the Pacific for the strike on Hiroshima.

Vincent and Vladic provide a visceral, moment-by-moment account of the disaster that unfolds days later after the Japanese torpedo attack, from the chaos on board the sinking ship to the first moments of shock as the crew plunge into the remote waters of the Philippine Sea, to the long days and nights during which terror and hunger morph into delusion and desperation, and the men must band together to survive.

Captain Charles Butler McVay III, US Navy

Then, for the first time, the authors go beyond the men’s rescue to chronicle Indianapolis’s extraordinary final mission: the survivors’ fifty-year fight for justice on behalf of their skipper, Captain Charles McVay III, who is wrongly court-martialed for the sinking.

What follows is a captivating courtroom drama that weaves through generations of American presidents, from Harry Truman to George W. Bush, and forever entwines the lives of three captains—McVay, whose life and career are never the same after the scandal; Mochitsura Hashimoto, the Japanese sub commander who sinks Indianapolis but later joins the battle to exonerate McVay; and William Toti, the captain of the modern-day submarine Indianapolis, who helps the survivors fight to vindicate their captain.

USS Indianapolis survivors on Guam, August 1945

McVay was found guilty on the charge of failing to zigzag. The court sentenced him to lose 100 numbers in his temporary rank of Captain and 100 numbers in his permanent rank of Commander, thus ruining his Navy career. In 1946, at the behest of Admiral Nimitz who had become Chief of Naval Operations, Secretary Forrestal remitted McVay’s sentence and restored him to duty. McVay served out his time in the New Orleans Naval District and retired in 1949 with the rank of Rear Admiral. He took his own life in 1968.

Read another story from us: After The USS Indianapolis Was Sunk, The Sailors Had To Survive The Worst Shark Attack in History

A sweeping saga of survival, sacrifice, justice, and love, Indianapolis stands as both groundbreaking naval history and spellbinding narrative—and brings the ship and her heroic crew back to full, vivid, unforgettable life. It is the definitive account of one of the most remarkable episodes in American history.

From: War history on-line, “In Harm’s Way” and the USS Indianapolis official website.

The wreck of the USS Indianapolis was finally found 19 August 2017.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Political Humor – 

DEPENDS ON YOUR POINT OF VIEW!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Thomas Buchinsky – PA; US Navy, Vietnam, USS Saratoga

Elihu ‘Al’ Channin – CT; US Air Force, Korea, pilot

David Davis – Granite City, IL; US Air Force, Korea

Clarence Gransberg – Hatton, ND; US Navy, WWII

Joseph Kennedy – Aurora, CO; US Air Force, Flight Instructor (Ret. 30 y.)

Fred Marloff – IN; US Navy, WWII, PTO

James R. Peterson – Mason City, IA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, B-24 waist gunner on “Black Jack”, 43rd/403 Bombardment Squadron

Joachim Roenneberg – NOR; Norwegian underground, WWII, demolition, Operation Gunnerside

Margaret Strautman – Montreal, CAN; RC Navy, WWII, ETO

Henry Wheeler – Buffalo, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO, 12th Army, Intelligence, Bronze Star

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Research for Jeff S. –

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on October 25, 2018, in Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 120 Comments.

  1. Thanks for your like of my post, “The Trumpet Sound;” you are very kind.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for your like of my post, “Shabbat Shalom – Marty Goetz In Full Concert;” you are very kind.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Coming out of that incident would be very hard. I wonder how many more took their lives in the years following. Too many lives lost in either event. Never ceases to amaze how much trauma can be compounded by a lack of understanding and affirmation to the individual following it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s amazing that the Japanese officer who sunk the ship was compelled to testify for the captain. What a story! Capt. McVay never recovered from the tragedy it appears. The only peace he found was when he ended his own life, or so I hope. Great and heart wrenching tale, GP!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. What a tragedy for the lost men at sea and Captain McVay. Certainly didn’t seem fair for him to be blamed for what happened.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Reblogged this on Musings of a Penpusher and commented:
    This reminds me that there are so many similar stories behind pretty well every ex-serviceman’s memories of WWII whether they flew, marched or sailed. Their bravery and gallantry can never be doubted, which is more than can be said for those who manipulated the strings that made the ‘puppets’ dance to the wishes of bureaucracy.

    This is but one, though a huge and disgraceful example, of onlookers being credited with more power than they deserved. We are only just coming to terms with the fact that theatres of war – wherever and whenever – take their toll on the combatants – our serving young people, and, to our shame, there have never been sufficient strategies in place to safeguard their best interests.

    This attitude is changing, thanks to those who are no longer afraid to speak out and be seen with their war-wounds when they participate in the specially inaugurated ‘Invicta Games’. it is time we looked with pride on their ‘war-wounds’ and stopped looking the other way.

    Thank you for shining a beacon of light in the right direction

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This reminds me that there are so many similar stories behind pretty well every ex-serviceman’s memories of WWII whether they flew, marched or sailed. Their bravery and gallantry can never be doubted, which is more than can be said for those who manipulated the strings that made the ‘puppets’ dance to the wishes of bureaucracy.

    This is but one, though a huge and disgraceful example, of onlookers being credited with more power than they deserved. We are only just coming to terms with the fact that theatres of war – wherever and whenever – take their toll on the combatants – our serving young people, and, to our shame, there have never been sufficient strategies in place to safeguard their best interests.

    This attitude is changing, thanks to those who are no longer afraid to speak out and be seen with their war-wounds when they participate in the specially inaugurated ‘Invicta Games’. it is time we looked with pride on their ‘war-wounds’ and stopped looking the other way.

    Thank you for shining a beacon of light in the right direction.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It is my pleasure to share these stories, in my vain effort to not just remember that generation and all they accomplished, but to learn from them. Though I know asking humans to learn from the past is useless.

      Like

  8. I read a book about the Indianapolis called Abandon Ship.
    It was a sad story indeed and Capt.McVay was shafted by the Navy.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This is just fascinating. I remember reading about them finding the USS Indianapolis, but I passed right over it, thinking it interesting, but only in the way that finding any sunken ship is interesting. This book has gone on my to-be-read list. It sounds absolutely fascinating — particularly the fact that even the Japanese joined in the fight to restore the captain’s good name.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Such incredible sacrifice. Thank you for bringing it forward for our contemplation and gratitude.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I wonder how many of those that came down on Captain Charles Butler McVay III, served in the theatre or war with distinction as he did?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I am reading a book about the aftermath of the sinking of the Titanic, and the terrible impact it had on the survivors, most of whom had lost their husbands/fathers – i.e. the breadwinners in the family. So I was surprised when I read “not enough lifeboats” in your article. I suppose the rules of civil shipping were changed to ensure that ships carried enough lifeboats for all, but were the military exempt?

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Many years ago, I read “In Harm’s Way” by Doug Stanton, which tells the dreadful tale of this ship. The whole episode deserves two films, one about WW2 and the other about the battle to save the captain’s reputation.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Re the first photo, showing Indianapolis at Mare Island: this now-closed Navy base is in San Pablo Bay which feeds San Francisco Bay. It is adjacent to the city of Vallejo, CA. In WWII, the Navy actually built submarines at Mare Island and it was a major submarine repair base for the Navy for many years. In WWII, it did a little bit of everything. Many Filipinos worked at Mare Island, either in the Navy or as civilian employees at the base. To this day, the city of Vallejo has a large Filipino population even though the base has been closed for more than 20 years.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I have been a life-long fan of the U.S. Navy and would have gladly served in the Navy had they accepted me. (Blind in one eye = 4F draft status). I’m not so much of a fan of the Navy that I overlook its warts. The bureaucratic screw-ups that caused the Navy NOT to realize that Indianapolis was missing are inexcusable. The court-martialing of Capt. McVay is inexcusable but it of the same piece as the injustice done to Admiral Kimmel and General Short after Pearl Harbor.

    I blogged about Indianapolis here: https://56packardman.com/2016/08/07/steamship-sunday-u-s-s-indianapolis-and-the-atomic-bomb/

    Liked by 1 person

  16. This will Best regards, my next read. Great posting. Thanks b

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I might have to give this a read – I read this other book about the Indianapolis that was pretty good. I think it was called “Abandon Ship”

    Liked by 1 person

  18. In the end no matter what the circumstances ‘the buck stops here’ … with the skipper. IF (as readings suggested in the past) there really was no zigzag and the sub captain was presented with such a gorgeous sitting duck … who else can be blamed?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Why no escort? Why wasn’t the disappearance unnoticed – late and presumed lost?

      Like

      • Cans of worms, GP. I suspect we’ll only ever get the answers from a very distant hindsight (if even then).

        We can let imagination loose—

        “Sir, the USS Indianap—”
        “Eeek! That’s Utter Beyond Topmost Top Secret! Shut up and once and don’t say that name again!”
        “But, sir, it’s missin—”
        “Captain, you’re now a Lieutenant! One more squeak and you’ll be a Midshipman!”

        Like

  19. I haven’t read through these comments yet … but my understanding is (from various articles at different times) that the command considered the war effectively over with no submarine threat hence no zig zag.

    The sinking was used in the movie ‘Jaws’ to help explain Quint’s dislike of sharks.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I played baseball from Little League through high school with a guy whose father was a survivor of the Indiannapolis disaster. His last name was Nutt. Mr. Nutt would often come and watch our practices, and attend every game he could manage. He was a quiet and very nice man. I only learned of this connection when I happened to read his obituary in the Panama City (FL) News Herald several years ago. His son had never mentioned it. It’s my guess Mr. Nutt kept those memories walled up inside.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. The struggle to survive an incident like that is hard to imagine, G, bringing out the best and possible worst in people. One thing stood out to me: Not enough life boats. Given the history of sinking ships in WW II, having enough seems like a no-brainer. –Curt

    Liked by 2 people

  22. A very sad story on many levels.

    Like

  23. This awful happening during WWII is one of the most horrid things the US Navy has done! Failing to try and contact the ship when they knew it was over-due is a huge failure on the Navy’s end. The Navy should have known something was wrong and then send out a PBY to search. On top of that, the Navy blamed the Captain for wrong doing! The US Navy does not mention much about this, because they know it was their fault and not the Captain. Being in the US Navy for 11 yrs. I can only imagine what horrible sights the surviving crew must have endured. Hundreds of sharks just eating away at the injured sailors! I stand and Salute these survivers for their sacrafice!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. The heartache of tragedy, almost over then this

    Liked by 1 person

  25. What a story. It’s hard to believe no one noticed.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Rush to judgment and scapegoatism at its finest. Sad The Admiral took his own life to free himself of the tragedy.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. A fascinating account of the horrible events surrounding the tragic sinking of the Indianapolis! I will try to buy this book at Amazon. One question for me remains: Was it possible that the Indianapolis could have been sunk while she still had the components for the atomic bomb on board?

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Very interesting, GP, and so tragic for all, including Capt. McVay. Thank you for reminding us of all these WWII stories!

    Liked by 1 person

  29. One of the most harrowing stories of the war at sea. I saw a pretty good film about it once, and the story stayed with me. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0102455/
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. As was Halsey’s removing task force 34 from guarding the San Bernardino Strait just some 25 miles north of Taffy 3’s position… Am reading:

    Liked by 1 person

  31. This was the story the old captain (played by Robert Shaw) told in “Jaws,” about why he hated sharks. The books sounds like it’s got some horrific stuff in it, but really fascinating history, too.

    Liked by 2 people

  32. To be so close, and then… Thanks, GP for this well done background and review of an astounding story. Best wishes to Vincent and Vladic with the book. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. What a sad story! He must be so devastated about what happened to commit suicide. I have to read that book.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Poor Captain McVay, that was a travesty.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. This was such a terrible sequence of events and mistakes. The first time I heard about this story was in the first “Jaws” movie.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Thank you for this account. I was fortunate enough to meet several of the survivors of the Indianapolis at several Texas Iwo Jima Survivors reunions. To L. D. Cox and his shipmates, RIP.

    Liked by 1 person

  37. I am getting the book from my library to read.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Quite the story. I get irate just thinking about it 70+ years later.

    Of all the details, reading about not having enough life jackets and lifeboats irritated me the most closely followed by the refused escort and faulty intelligence. I suppose there were reasons for it (war and stuff) but it seems to border on criminal negligence.

    Sad both for the lives lost and for the survivors.

    Liked by 1 person

  39. Sounds like prejudicial ruling on Adm McVay. Tragic, actually.

    Liked by 1 person

  40. I met a survivor of the disaster years ago at a Veterans Day assembly. Unbelievable story and lucky any survived.

    Liked by 1 person

  41. Your help in keeping these stories in the minds of our readers is much appreciated!!

    Like

  1. Pingback: FEATURED BLOGGER REPORT: USS Indianapolis (CA-35) – 30 July 1945 | Pacific Paratrooper #AceHisto ryDesk reports | ' Ace Worldwide History '

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