Thursday, July 30, 2015

Sinking of the USS Indianapolis

On today’s date in 1945, a Japanese submarine, the I-58, sank the heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis. The tragic loss of 881 crewmen was America’s greatest single loss of life at sea.

Indianapolis had been ordered from San Francisco on a secret mission to Tinian in the Marianas, near where my dad was stationed at Saipan, to deliver components for the “Little Boy” atomic bomb, which would be dropped on Hiroshima. Her mission successful, she was making her way to Leyte when she was torpedoed.

The doomed ship sank in only 12 minutes, before a radio message could be sent out. Of the 1,196 crewmen aboard, approximately 300 went down with the ship. The remaining 900 or so survivors were left adrift without lifeboats. One by one the men perished through exposure, dehydration, and horrific shark attacks. Only 317 survived to be rescued four days later.

In 1942, Dad was temporarily assigned to the Indianapolis, one of many ships he repaired at Pearl Harbor in 1941-1942.

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