67 Years Ago, A Cargo of Death and Sea of Horror
67 years ago, USS Indianapolis (CA-35) arrived at the Pacific island of Tinian to deliver the firing mechanism and uranium-235 material for the first atomic bomb dropped over Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945.
Four days later, USS Indianapolis was sunk by the Japanese submarine I-58, northeast of Leyte, 12° 02’N, 134° 48’E. Due to communications and other errors, her loss went unnoticed until survivors were seen from a passing aircraft on 2 August.
Drifting helplessly for 4 days in the tropical sun with little to no food or fresh water, nearly 600 men perished due to severe dehyration, dementia, repeated shark attack, and injuries sustained in the Japanese attack. When the last of the survivors were finally pulled from the water on August 3, only 317 of the original 1,196 crew were still alive.
She was the last American warship sunk in World War II.
Captain Charles B. McVay III, a US Naval Academy graduate from the Class of 1920, was court-martialed and convicted for failing to zigzag in order to foil a potential submarine attack. A Congressional resolution signed by former President Bill Clinton cleared him of any wrongdoing in 2000.
Indianapolis and her crew earned 10 battle stars for her service in World War II.
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