Military Wiki
USS Indianapolis (CA-35)
USS Indianapolis, 1937
Indianapolis at Pearl Harbor in 1937
Career (United States)
Name: USS Indianapolis (CA-35)
Laid down: 31 March 1930
Launched: 7 November 1931
Commissioned: 15 November 1932
Honors and
10 Battle Stars
Fate: Torpedoed and sunk on 30 July 1945 by Japanese submarine I-58}. About 900 of the 1,196 crewmen aboard initially survived; by the time they were rescued, only 321 remained, four of whom soon died.
General characteristics
Class & type: Portland-class cruiser
Displacement: 9,800 long tons (10,000 t)
Length: 610 ft (190 m)
Beam: 66 ft (20 m)
Draft: 17 ft 4 in (5.28 m)
Propulsion: 8 × White-Foster boilers, single reduction geared turbines, 107,000 shp (80,000 kW)
Speed: 32.7 kn (37.6 mph; 60.6 km/h)
Complement: 629 officers and enlisted (peace), 1,269 officers and men (wartime)
Armament: 9 × 8 in (200 mm)/55 cal guns (3x3)
8 × 5 in (130 mm)/25 cal AA guns
8 × .50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns
Aircraft carried: 2 × OS2U Kingfisher floatplanes

USS Indianapolis (CA-35) was a Portland-class cruiser of the United States Navy. She was named for the city of Indianapolis, Indiana.

She served as flagship for Admiral Raymond Spruance while he commanded the Fifth Fleet in their battles across the Central Pacific. She holds a place in history due to the circumstances of her sinking, which led to the greatest single loss of life at sea in the history of the U.S. Navy. On 30 July 1945, shortly after delivering critical parts for the first atomic bomb to be used in combat to the United States air base at Tinian, the ship was torpedoed by the Imperial Japanese Navy submarine I-58, sinking in 12 minutes. Of 1,196 crewmen aboard, approximately 300 went down with the ship.

The remaining 900 men faced exposure, dehydration, saltwater poisoning, and shark attacks as they waited for assistance while floating with few lifeboats and almost no food or water. The Navy learned of the sinking when survivors were spotted four days later by the crew of a PV-1 Ventura on routine patrol. Only 317 sailors survived.[1]

On 19 August 2017 a search team financed by Paul Allen located the wreckage of sunken cruiser in the Phillppine Sea lying at a depth of approximately 18.000 ft (5,500 m).


  • Capt. John M. Smeallie (November 15, 1932 - December 10, 1934)
  • Capt. William S. McClintic (December 10, 1934 - March 16, 1936)
  • Capt. Henry Kent Hewitt (March 16, 1936 - June 5, 1937)
  • Capt. Thomas C. Kinkaid (June 5, 1937 - July 1, 1938)
  • Capt. John F. Shafroth Jr. (July 1, 1938 - October 1, 1941)
  • Capt. Edward Hanson (October 1, 1941 - July 11, 1942)
  • Capt. Morton L. Deyo (July 11, 1942 - January 12, 1943)
  • Capt. Nicholas Vytlacil (January 12, 1943 - July 30, 1943)
  • Capt. Einar R. Johnson (July 30, 1943 - November 18, 1944)
  • Capt. Charles B. McVay III (November 18, 1944 - July 30, 1945)


Indianapolis was the second of two ships in the Portland class; third class of "treaty cruisers" to be constructed by the United States Navy following the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922, following the two vessels of the Pensacola class ordered in 1926 and the six vessels of the Northampton class ordered in 1927.[2] Ordered for the U.S. Navy in fiscal year 1930, Indianapolis was originally designated as a light cruiser, and given the hull classification symbol CL-35, being re-designated a heavy cruiser with the symbol CA-35 on 1 July 1931, in accordance with the London Naval Treaty.[3]

As built, the Portland class cruisers were to be 610 feet 3 inches (186.00 m) in length overall, and 592 feet (180 m) long at the waterline,[4] 64 feet 6 inches (19.66 m) abeam,[2] and with a draft of 21 feet (6.4 m) (24 feet (7.3 m) maximum). They were designed for a standard displacement of 10,258 tonnes (10,096 long tons; 11,308 short tons), and a full-load displacement of 12,755 tonnes (12,554 long tons; 14,060 short tons).[5] However, when completed she did not reach this weight, displacing 9,800 tonnes (9,600 long tons; 10,800 short tons).[4] The ship featured two distinctive raked funnels, a tripod foremast, and a small tower and pole mast aft. In 1943, light tripods were added forward of the second funnel on each ship, and a prominent Naval director was installed aft.[4]

The ship was equipped with four propeller shafts and four Parsons GT geared turbines and eight Yarrow boilers. The power plant generated 107,000 shaft horsepower (80,000 kW) and the ship had a design speed of 32 knots (59 km/h) She was designed for a range of 10,000 nautical miles (19,000 km; 12,000 mi) at 15 knots (28 km/h).[4] She rolled badly until fitted with a bilge keel.[3]

The cruiser was armed with a main battery of nine Mark 9 8"/55 caliber guns arrayed in three triple mounts, a superfiring pair fore and one aft. For anti-aircraft defense, she was armed with eight 5"/25 caliber guns as well as two QF 3 pounder Hotchkiss guns. In 1945, the anti-aircraft defenses of Indianapolis was upgraded, and she received twenty four Bofors 40 mm guns, which were arrayed in six quad mounts. Both ships were also upgraded with twelve Oerlikon 20 mm cannons.[4] No torpedo tubes were fitted on her.[6]

The Portland class was originally armed with 1 inch (25 mm) of armor for deck protection and side protection, but during construction these were substantially up-armored.[3] As completed, the ships were armed with belt armor between 5 inches (130 mm) (around the magazines) and 3.25 inches (83 mm) in thickness.[6] Armor on the bulkheads was between 2 inches (51 mm) and 5.75 inches (146 mm), while armor on the deck was 2.5 inches (64 mm), armor on the barbettes was 1.5 inches (38 mm), armor on the gunhouses was 2.5 inches (64 mm), and armor on the conning tower was 1.25 inches (32 mm).[4]

Additionally, the Portland class cruisers were designed to be outfitted as fleet flagships, with space for an Admiral and his staff to operate. The class also featured an aircraft catapult amidships.[4] They could carry four aircraft. The total crew complement varied, with a regular designed crew complement of 807,[5] a wartime complement of 952, which could increase to 1,229 when the cruiser was operating as a fleet flagship.[4]

Indianapolis was laid down by New York Shipbuilding Corporation on 31 March 1930.[4] The hull and machinery of the ship was provided by the builder.[3] Indianapolis was launched on 7 November 1931 and commissioned on 15 November 1932.[4] She was the second ship named for Indianapolis, Indiana following the cargo ship of the same name launched in 1918. She was sponsored by Lucy Taggart, the daughter of former Mayor of Indianapolis Thomas Taggart.[7]

Interwar period

Indianapolis in 1939

Under command of her first captain, John M. Smeallie, Indianapolis undertook her shakedown cruise through the Atlantic Ocean and into Guantánamo Bay until 23 February 1932. Indianapolis then transited the Panama Canal Zone and conducted training in the Pacific Ocean off the Chilean coast. After an overhaul at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, the heavy cruiser sailed to Maine to embark President Franklin Delano Roosevelt at Campobello Island in New Brunswick on 1 July 1933.[7] Getting underway the same day, Indianapolis arrived at Annapolis, Maryland on 3 July. She hosted six members of the Cabinet along with Roosevelt during its stay there. After disembarking Roosevelt, she departed Annapolis on 4 July, and steamed for Philadelphia Navy Yard.[8]

On 6 September, she embarked Secretary of the Navy Claude A. Swanson for an inspection tour of the U.S. Navy in the Pacific. Indianapolis toured the Canal Zone, Hawaii, and Navy installations in San Pedro and San Diego area. Swanson disembarked from her on 27 October. On 1 November 1933, she became flagship of Scouting Force 1, and conducted maneuvers with the force off Long Beach, California. She departed these waters on 9 April 1934 and arrived at New York City and embarked Roosevelt a second time, for a naval review. She returned to Long Beach on 9 November 1934 for more training exercises with the Scouting Force. She remained the flagship of Scouting Force 1 until 1941. On 18 November 1936, she embarked Roosevelt a third time at Charleston, South Carolina, and conducted a goodwill cruise to South America with him aboard. She visited Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Montevideo, Uruguay for several state visits before returning to Charleston and disembarking Roosevelt's party on 15 December.[8]

World War II

On 7 December 1941, Indianapolis was on a training mission conducting a mock bombardment at Johnston Atoll during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Indianapolis immediately was absorbed into Task Force 12 and conducted a search for the Japanese carriers responsible for the attack, though the force did not locate them. She returned to Pearl Harbor on 13 December and joined Task Force 11.[8]

New Guinea campaign

With the task force, she steamed to the South Pacific, to 350 mi (560 km) south of Rabaul, New Britain, escorting the aircraft carrier Lexington. Late in the afternoon of 20 February 1942, the American ships were attacked by 18 Japanese aircraft. Of these, 16 were shot down by aircraft from Lexington while the remaining two were destroyed by antiaircraft fire from the ships.[8]

On 10 March, the task force, reinforced by another force centered around the carrier Yorktown, attacked Japanese-held ports at Lae and Salamaua, New Guinea where the Japanese were marshaling amphibious forces. Attacking from the south through the Owen Stanley mountain range, the U.S. air forces surprised and inflicted heavy damage on Japanese warships and transports, losing few aircraft but inflicting what U.S. commanders considered heavy damage to the Japanese shipping and aircraft. Following this mission, Indianapolis returned to Mare Island Naval Shipyard for a brief refit, before escorting a convoy to Australia.[8]

Aleutian Islands campaign

She then headed for the North Pacific to support American units in the Battle of the Aleutian Islands. On 7 August, Indianapolis and the task force attacked Kiska Island a Japanese staging area. Although fog hindered observation, Indianapolis and other ships fired their main guns into the bay. Floatplanes flown from the cruisers reported Japanese ships sunk in the harbor and damage to shore installations. After 15 minutes, Japanese shore batteries returned fire before being destroyed by the ships' main guns. Japanese submarines were spotted approaching the force, but were depth-charged by American destroyers before they could inflict any damage. Japanese seaplanes also made an ineffective bombing attack. In spite of a lack of information on the condition of the Japanese forces, the operation was considered a success. U.S. forces later occupied Adak Island, providing a naval base further out from the Dutch Harbor on Unalaska Island. In January 1943, Indianapolis, supporting a landing and occupation on Amchitka, part of an Allied island hopping strategy in the Aleutian Islands.[8]

On the evening of 19 February, Indianapolis led two destroyers on a patrol southwest of Attu Island, searching for Japanese ships trying to reinforce Kiska and Attu. She intercepted a Japanese cargo ship, Akagane Maru. The cargo ship tried to make a reply to the radio challenge but was shelled by Indianapolis. Akagane Maru immediately exploded forcefully and sank with all hands. Presumably she had been carrying ammunition. Through mid-1943, Indianapolis remained near the Aleutian Islands escorting American convoys and providing shore bombardments supporting amphibious assaults. In May, the Allies captured Attu, then turned attention on Kiska, the final Japanese holdout in the Aleutians. Allied landings there commenced on 15 August, however the landed forces discovered that the Japanese had abandoned the Aleutian Islands by then.[8]

1943 operations

After refitting at Mare Island, Indianapolis moved to Hawaii where she became the flagship of Vice Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, commanding the 5th Fleet. She sortied from Pearl Harbor on 10 November with the main body of the Southern Attack Force for Operation Galvanic, the invasion of the Gilbert Islands. On 19 November, Indianapolis bombarded Tarawa Atoll and next day pounded Makin (see Battle of Makin). The ship then returned to Tarawa and acted as a fire-support ship for the landings. That day her guns shot down an enemy plane and shelled enemy strong points as landing parties struggled against Japanese defenders in the bloody and costly battle of Tarawa. She continued this role until the leveled island was declared secure 3 days later. The conquest of the Marshall Islands followed hard on victory in the Gilberts. Indianapolis was again 5th Fleet Flagship.


File:USS Indianapolis-off San Francisco in pattern.jpeg

USS Indianapolis off the coast of San Francisco in camouflage pattern.

The cruiser met other ships of her task force at Tarawa, and on D-Day minus 1, January 31, 1944, she was a unit of the cruiser group which bombarded the islands of Kwajalein Atoll. The shelling continued on D-Day with Indianapolis silencing two enemy shore batteries. Next day she obliterated a blockhouse and other shore installations and supported advancing troops with a creeping barrage. The ship entered Kwajalein Lagoon on 4 February, and remained until all resistance disappeared. (See Battle of Kwajalein.)

In March and April, Indianapolis, still flagship of the 5th Fleet, attacked the Western Carolines. Carrier planes struck at the Palau Islands on 30–31 March with shipping as their primary target. They sank three destroyers, 17 freighters, five oilers and damaged 17 other ships. In addition, airfields were bombed and surrounding waters mined to immobilize enemy ships. Yap and Ulithi were struck on the 31st and Woleai on 1 April. During these three days, Japanese planes attacked the U.S. fleet but were driven off without damaging the American ships. Indianapolis shot down her second plane, a torpedo bomber, and the Japanese lost 160 planes in all, including 46 destroyed on the ground. These attacks successfully prevented Japanese forces from the Carolines from interfering with the U.S. landings on New Guinea.

In June, the 5th Fleet was busy with the assault on the Mariana Islands. Raids on Saipan began with carrier-based planes on 11 June, followed by surface bombardment, in which Indianapolis had a major role, from 13 June. (See Battle of Saipan.) On D-Day, 15 June, Admiral Spruance received reports that a large fleet of battleships, carriers, cruisers, and destroyers was headed south to relieve their threatened garrisons in the Marianas. Since amphibious operations at Saipan had to be protected at all costs, Admiral Spruance could not draw his powerful surface units too far from the scene. Consequently, a fast carrier force was sent to meet this threat while another force attacked Japanese air bases on Iwo Jima and Chichi Jima in the Bonin and Volcano Islands, bases for potential enemy air attacks.

A combined U.S. fleet fought the Japanese on 19 June in the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Japanese carrier planes, which hoped to use the airfields of Guam and Tinian to refuel and rearm and attack American off-shore shipping, were met by carrier planes and the guns of the Allied escorting ships. That day, the U.S. Navy destroyed a reported 426 Japanese planes while losing only 29.[9] Indianapolis herself shot down one torpedo plane. This day of aerial combat became known throughout the fleet as the "Marianas Turkey Shoot". With Japanese air opposition wiped out, the U.S. carrier planes pursued and sank Hiyō, two destroyers, and one tanker and inflicted severe damage on other ships. Two other carriers, Taihō and Shōkaku, were sunk by submarines.

Indianapolis returned to Saipan on 23 June to resume fire support there and six days later moved to Tinian to smash shore installations (see Battle of Tinian). Meanwhile, Guam had been taken, and Indianapolis was the first ship to enter Apra Harbor since that American base had fallen early in the war. The ship operated in the Marianas for the next few weeks, then moved to the Western Carolines where further landings were planned. From 12 to 29 September, she bombarded the Island of Peleliu in the Palau Group, both before and after the landings (see Battle of Peleliu). She then sailed to Manus Island in the Admiralty Islands where she operated for 10 days before returning to the Mare Island Navy Yard.


Overhauled, Indianapolis joined Vice Admiral Marc A. Mitscher's fast carrier task force on 14 February 1945. Two days later, the task force launched an attack on Tokyo to cover the landings on Iwo Jima, scheduled for 19 February. This was the first carrier attack on Japan since the Doolittle Raid. The mission was to destroy Japanese air facilities and other installations in the "Home Islands". The fleet achieved complete tactical surprise by approaching the Japanese coast under cover of bad weather. The attacks were pressed home for two days. The American Navy lost 49 carrier planes while claiming 499 enemy planes, a 10:1 kill/loss ratio. The task force also sank a carrier, nine coastal ships, a destroyer, two destroyer escorts, and a cargo ship. They destroyed hangars, shops, aircraft installations, factories, and other industrial targets.

Indianapolis off Mare Island, on 10 July 1945.

Immediately after the strikes, the task force raced to Bonin to support the landings on Iwo Jima. The ship remained there until 1 March, protecting the invasion ships and bombarding targets in support of the landings. Indianapolis returned to Admiral Mitscher's task force in time to strike Tokyo again on 25 February and Hachijō off the southern coast of Honshū the following day. Although weather was extremely bad, the American force destroyed 158 planes and sank five small ships while pounding ground installations and destroying trains.

The next target for the U.S. forces was Okinawa in the Ryukyu Islands, which were in range of aircraft from the Japanese mainland. The fast carrier force was tasked with attacking airfields in southern Japan until they were incapable of launching effective airborne opposition to the impending invasion. The fast carrier force departed for Japan from Ulithi on 14 March. On 18 March, it launched an attack from a position 100 mi (160 km) southeast of the island of Kyūshū. The attack targeted airfields on Kyūshū as well as ships of the Japanese fleet in the harbors of Kobe and Kure on southern Honshū. The Japanese located the American task force on 21 March, sending 48 planes to attack the ships. Twenty-four fighters from the task force intercepted and shot down all the Japanese aircraft.

Pre-invasion bombardment of Okinawa began on 24 March. Indianapolis spent 7 days pouring 8 in (200 mm) shells into the beach defenses. During this time, enemy aircraft repeatedly attacked the American ships. Indianapolis shot down six planes and damaged two others. On 31 March, the ship's lookouts spotted a Japanese fighter as it emerged from the morning twilight and roared at the bridge in a vertical dive. The ship's 20 mm guns opened fire, but within 15 seconds, the plane was over the ship. Tracers converged on it, causing it to swerve, but the enemy pilot managed to release his bomb from a height of 25 ft (7.6 m), crashing his plane into the sea near the port stern. The bomb plummeted through the deck, into the crew's mess hall, down through the berthing compartment, and through the fuel tanks before crashing through the keel and exploding in the water underneath. The concussion blew two gaping holes in the keel which flooded nearby compartments, killing nine crewmen. The ship's bulkheads prevented any progressive flooding. The Indianapolis, settling slightly by the stern and listing to port, steamed to a salvage ship for emergency repairs. Here, inspection revealed that her propeller shafts were damaged, her fuel tanks ruptured, and her water-distilling equipment ruined. But the Indianapolis commenced the long trip across the Pacific to Mare Island under her own power.


After major repairs and an overhaul, Indianapolis received orders to proceed to Tinian island, carrying parts and the enriched uranium (about half of the world's supply of Uranium-235 at the time) for the atomic bomb Little Boy, which would later be dropped on Hiroshima.[10] Indianapolis departed San Francisco on 16 July. Arriving at Pearl Harbor on 19 July, she raced on unaccompanied, reaching Tinian on 26 July. Indianapolis was then sent to Guam where a number of the crew who had completed their tours of duty were replaced by other sailors. Leaving Guam on 28 July, she began sailing toward Leyte where her crew was to receive training before continuing on to Okinawa to join Vice Admiral Jesse B. Oldendorf's Task Force 95. At 00:14 on 30 July, she was struck by two Type 95 torpedoes on her starboard bow, from the Japanese submarine I-58 under the command of Mochitsura Hashimoto. The explosions caused massive damage. The Indianapolis took on a heavy list, and settled by the head. Twelve minutes later, she rolled completely over, then her stern rose into the air, and she plunged down. Some 300 of the 1,196 crewmen went down with the ship. With few lifeboats and many without lifejackets, the remainder of the crew were set adrift awaiting rescue.[11]

Indianapolis's intended route from Guam to the Philippines

Navy command had no knowledge of the ship's sinking until survivors were spotted three and a half days later. At 10:25 on 2 August a PV-1 Ventura flown by Lieutenant Wilbur "Chuck" Gwinn and copilot Lieutenant Warren Colwell spotted the men adrift while on a routine patrol flight.[12] Of the 880 that survived the sinking, only 321 men came out of the water alive; 317 ultimately survived. They suffered from lack of food and water (some found rations such as Spam and crackers amongst the debris), exposure to the elements (hypothermia, dehydration, hypernatremia, photophobia, starvation and dementia), severe desquamation, and shark attacks, while some killed themselves and/or one another in various states of delirium and hallucinations.[13] The Discovery Channel stated in Shark Week episodes "Ocean of Fear" that the Indianapolis sinking resulted in the most shark attacks on humans in history, and attributes the attacks to the oceanic whitetip shark species. Tiger sharks might have also killed some of the survivors. The same show attributed most of the deaths on Indianapolis to exposure, salt poisoning and thirst, with the dead being dragged off by sharks.[14]

Gwinn immediately dropped a life raft and a radio transmitter. All air and surface units capable of rescue operations were dispatched to the scene at once. A PBY Catalina seaplane under the command of Lieutenant R. Adrian Marks was dispatched to lend assistance and report.[12] En route to the scene, Marks overflew Cecil J. Doyle and alerted her captain, future U.S. Secretary of the Navy W. Graham Claytor, Jr., of the emergency. On his own authority, Claytor decided to divert to the scene.

Arriving hours ahead of Doyle, Marks' crew began dropping rubber rafts and supplies. Having seen men being attacked by sharks, Marks disobeyed standing orders and landed on the open sea. He began taxiing to pick up the stragglers and lone swimmers who were at the greatest risk of shark attack.[12] Learning the men were the crew of Indianapolis, he radioed the news, requesting immediate assistance. Doyle responded while en route. When Marks' plane was full, survivors were tied to the wings with parachute cord, damaging the wings so that the plane would never fly again and had to be sunk.[12] Marks and his crew rescued 56 men that day.[12]

The Doyle was the first vessel on the scene.[12] Homing on Marks's Catalina in total darkness, Doyle halted to avoid killing or further injuring survivors, and began taking Marks' survivors aboard. Disregarding the safety of his own vessel, Captain Claytor pointed his largest searchlight into the night sky to serve as a beacon for other rescue vessels.[12] This beacon was the first indication to most survivors that rescuers had arrived.[12]

The destroyers Helm, Madison, and Ralph Talbot were ordered to the rescue scene from Ulithi, along with destroyer escorts Dufilho, Bassett, and Ringness of the Philippine Sea Frontier. They continued their search for survivors until 8 August.

Two of the rescued survivors Robert Lee Shipman and Frederick Harrison passed away August 1945.

Navy failure to learn of the sinking

Operations plotting boards were kept at the Headquarters of Commander Marianas on Guam and of the Commander Philippine Sea Frontier on Leyte. On these boards, the positions of all vessels of which the headquarters was concerned were plotted. However, for ships as large as the Indianapolis, it was assumed that they would reach their destinations on time, unless reported otherwise. Therefore, their positions were based on predictions, and not on reports. On 31 July, when she should have arrived at Leyte, Indianapolis was removed from the board in the headquarters of Commander Marianas. She was also recorded as having arrived at Leyte by the headquarters of Commander Philippine Sea Frontier. Lieutenant Stuart B. Gibson, the Operations Officer under the Port Director, Tacloban, was the officer responsible for tracking the movements of Indianapolis. The non-arrival of that vessel on schedule was known at once to Lieutenant Gibson who failed to investigate the matter and made no immediate report of the fact to his superiors.[15]

Survivors of Indianapolis on Guam, in August 1945.

The Indianapolis sent distress calls before sinking. Three stations received the signals; however, none acted upon the call. One commander was drunk, another had ordered his men not to disturb him and a third thought it was a Japanese prank.[16] For a long time the Navy denied that a distress call had been sent. The receipt of the call came to light only after the release of declassified records.

Immediately prior to the attack, the seas had been moderate, the visibility fluctuating but poor in general, and Indianapolis had been steaming at 17 kn (20 mph; 31 km/h). When the ship did not reach Leyte on the 31st, as scheduled, no report was made that she was overdue. This omission was due to a misunderstanding of the Movement Report System.

Captain Charles McVay

Captain Charles B. McVay III, who had commanded Indianapolis since November 1944, survived the sinking, and was with those rescued days later. In November 1945, he was court-martialed and convicted of "hazarding his ship by failing to zigzag." Several things about the court-martial were controversial. There was evidence that the Navy itself had placed the ship in harm's way, in that McVay's orders were to "zigzag at his discretion, weather permitting." Further, Mochitsura Hashimoto, commander of I-58, testified that zigzagging would have made no difference.[17]

Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz remitted McVay's sentence and restored him to active duty. McVay retired in 1949.[18] While many of Indianapolis's survivors said McVay was not to blame for the sinking, the families of some of the men who died thought otherwise - "Merry Christmas! Our family's holiday would be a lot merrier if you hadn't killed my son", read one piece of hate mail.[19] The guilt that was placed on his shoulders mounted until he committed suicide in 1968, using his Navy-issue revolver. McVay was discovered on his front lawn with a toy sailor in one hand.[19]

In October 2000, the United States Congress passed a resolution that Captain McVay's record should state that "he is exonerated for the loss of Indianapolis." President Bill Clinton signed the resolution.[20] The resolution noted that although several hundred ships of the U.S. Navy were lost in combat in World War II, McVay was the only captain to be court-martialed for the sinking of his ship.[21] In July 2001, the Secretary of the Navy ordered McVay's record cleared of all wrongdoing.[22][23]


Indianapolis earned 10 battle stars for World War II service.[24][25]

Discovery of The wreck

Navy firing detail as part of a burial-at-sea in 2008 for one of the 317 survivors of the USS Indianapolis (CA-35) sinking on 30 July 1945.

The exact location of Indianapolis is in the Philippine Sea – the coordinates given in this article are for the general area. In July–August 2001, an expedition sought to find the wreckage through the use of side-scan sonar and underwater cameras mounted on a remotely operated vehicle. Four Indianapolis survivors accompanied the expedition, which was not successful. In June 2005, a second expedition was mounted to find the wreck. National Geographic covered the story and released it in July. Submersibles were launched to find any sign of wreckage. The only objects ever found, which have not been confirmed to have belonged to Indianapolis, were numerous pieces of metal of varying size found in the area of the reported sinking position (this was included in the National Geographic program Finding of the USS Indianapolis).

In July 2016 new information came out regarding the possible location of Indianapolis when naval records said that LST-779 passed by the ship 11 hours before the torpedoes struck. Using this information, National Geographic planned to mount an expedition to search for the wreck in the summer of 2017. Reports estimated that Indianapolis was actually 25 mi (40 km) west of reported sinking position, in water three mi (4,800 m) and likely on side of an underwater mountain. A year after the discovery of the records, the wreck located by Paul Allen's USS Indianapolis Project aboard Research Vessel Petrel.on 19 August 2017, at a depth 18,000 (5,500,m). The Wreck is well preserved due to great depth at which Indianapolis rests, which is the rocky mountain ranges of the North Philippine Sea.

In September 2017, a map detailing the wreckage was released. The main part of the wreck lies in an impact crater. Its bow which broke off before the ship sank and lies 1.5 miles (2.4) east. The two forward 8 inch guns which broke off on the surface and mark the ship's last position on the surface, lie 0.5 miles (0.80) km east of the main wreck. The single 8 inch gun turret on the stern remains in place. Airplane wreckage from the ship lies about 0.6 miles (0.97 km) north of the main part the wreck.


The USS Indianapolis Museum had its grand opening on 7 July 2007, with its gallery in the Indiana War Memorial Museum[26] at the Indiana World War Memorial Plaza.[27][28][29]

USS Indianapolis National Memorial

The USS Indianapolis National Memorial was dedicated on 2 August 1995. It is located on the Canal Walk in Indianapolis.[30] The heavy cruiser is depicted in limestone and granite and sits adjacent to the downtown canal. The crewmembers' names are listed on the monument, with special notations for those who lost their lives.

In May 2011, I-465 around Indianapolis was renamed the USS Indianapolis Memorial Highway.[31]

Some material relating to Indianapolis is held by the Indiana State Museum. Her bell and a commissioning pennant are located at the Heslar Naval Armory; the bell was removed to conserve weight prior to her final cruise.

The swim training center at United States Navy Recruit Training Command is named USS Indianapolis.

Popular culture

References to the Indianapolis sinking and aftermath have been adapted to film, stage, television, and popular culture. The incident itself was the subject of 1991 made-for-television movie Mission of the Shark: The Saga of the USS Indianapolis, with Stacy Keach portraying Captain Charles Butler McVay III.

Arguably the most well known fictional reference to the events occurs in the 1975 thriller film Jaws in a monologue by actor Robert Shaw, whose character Samuel Quint is depicted as a survivor of the Indianapolis sinking. The monologue particularly focuses on the numerous deaths caused by shark attacks after the sinking. John Milius was specifically brought into the production to write lines for this scene and he based them on survivor stories. However, the speech states the date of the sinking as 29 June 1945, when the ship was actually sunk on 30 July.[32]

See also


  1. U.S.S. Indianapolis Memorial, Indianapolis, Indiana
  2. 2.0 2.1 Bauer & Roberts 1991, p. 136.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Bauer & Roberts 1991, p. 138.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 4.9 Silverstone 2007, p. 32.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Miller 2001, p. 292.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Stille 2009, p. 30.
  7. 7.0 7.1 DANFS 1981, p. 433.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 DANFS 1981, p. 434.
  9. "Marianas Turkey Shoot". Retrieved 4 September 2010. 
  10. "Little Boy," the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, was also inscribed with numerous autographs and graffiti by ground crews who loaded it into the plane. One of them read: "Greetings to the Emperor from the men of the Indianapolis." Richard Rhodes, The making of the atomic bomb (Simon & Schuster, 1986), 710.
  11. Lewis L. Haynes (Jul.-Aug. 1995). "Recollections of the sinking of USS Indianapolis (CA-35) by CAPT Lewis L. Haynes, MC (Medical Corps) (Ret.), the senior medical officer on board the ship.". Navy Medicine. Retrieved 2009-04-04. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 12.6 12.7 Marks (April 1981) pp.48–50
  13. In Harm's Way: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors
  14. Discovery Channel's Shark Week: Ocean of Fear (retrieved 27 July 1011)
  15. "The Sinking of USS Indianapolis: Navy Department Press Release, Narrative of the Circumstances of the Loss of USS Indianapolis, 23 February 1946". U.S. Navy. 23 February 1946. Retrieved 2008-06-16. 
  16. Timothy W. Maier (5 June 2000). "For The Good of the Navy". Insight on the News. Retrieved 2013-04-15. 
  17. "Mochitsura Hashimoto". Retrieved 4 September 2010. 
  18. "Captain McVay". Retrieved 4 September 2010. 
  19. 19.0 19.1 Steven Martinovich (16 April 2001). "Review of In Harm's Way". Retrieved 4 September 2010. 
  20. "Seeking Justice : Victory in Congress". Retrieved 4 September 2010. 
  21. "Legislation exonerating Captain McVay". Retrieved 4 September 2010. 
  22. Thomas, Joseph (2005). Leadership Embodied. Naval Institute Press. pp. 112–117. ISBN 978-1-59114-860-9. 
  23. Magin, Janis (13 July 2001). "Navy exonerates WWII captain".,966443. Retrieved 31 July 2011. 
  24. At USS Indianapolis Museum official website, in the left-hand column, click on "USS Indianapolis Battle Stars". Retrieved 2011-08-17.
  25. At USS Indianapolis Museum official website, in the left-hand column, click on "CA-35 Operational History". Retrieved 2011-08-17.
  26. Indiana War Memorial Museum. State of Indiana official website. Retrieved 2011-08-18.
  27. At USS Indianapolis Museum official website, in the left-hand column, scroll down to and click on "Hours of Operation". Retrieved 2011-08-17.
  28. At USS Indianapolis Museum official website, in the left-hand column, click on "Mission & Vision". Retrieved 2011-08-17.
  29. At USS Indianapolis Museum official website, in the left-hand column, click on "Educational Mission & Traveling Event Museum" and scroll down to "USS Indianapolis Museum / Traveling Event Museum". Retrieved 2011-08-17.
  30. Indiana War Memorial: USS Indianapolis Memorial. State of Indiana official website. Retrieved 2011-08-18.
  31. Indy Star: I-465 gets new name
  32. Jaws Dialogues
  • "Dictionary of American naval fighting ships / Vol.3, Historical sketches : letters G through K". Washington, D.C.: Department of the Navy. 1981. ISBN 978-0160020186. 
  • Bauer, Karl Jack; Roberts, Stephen S. (1991). "Register of Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1775–1990: Major Combatants". Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. ISBN 978-0313262029. 
  • Miller, David M. O. (2001). "Illustrated Directory of Warships of the World". New York City: Zenith Press. ISBN 978-0760311271. 
  • Silverstone, Paul (2007). "The Navy of World War II, 1922–1947". New York City: Routledge. ISBN 978-0415978989. 
  • Stille, Mark (2009). "USN Cruiser vs IJN Cruiser: Guadalcanal 1942". Oxford, United Kingdom: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1846034664. 
Further reading

External links

Coordinates: 12°2′N 134°48′E / 12.033°N 134.8°E / 12.033; 134.8 (Approximate location of the wreck of the USS Indianapolis (CA-35))

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