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  USS Indianapolis CA-35
USN
Portland Class Cruiser

9,950 Tons (As Built)
10,110 Tons (Standard)
610' 3" x 66' 1" x 17' 4"
9 x 8"/55 cal guns (3x3)
8 x 5"/25cal guns
3 x 3 pounder guns
4 x floatplanes
2 x catapults
Click For Enlargement
USN October 1942

Click For Enlargement

USN July 10, 1945

Sinking History
Built by New York Shipbuilding Corporation in Camden, New Jersey. Laid down March 31, 1930. Launched November 7, 1931 sponsored by Miss Lucy Taggart, daughter of the late Senator Thomas Taggart, a former mayor of Indianapolis. This is the The second ship named for Indianapolis, Indiana. Commissioned November 15, 1932 at Philadelphia Navy Yard with Captain John M. Smeallie in command.

Prewar
Following shakedown in the Atlantic and Guantánamo Bay until 23 February 1932, Indianapolis trained in the Panama Canal Zone and in the Pacific off the Chilean coast. After overhaul at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, the heavy cruiser sailed to Maine. On July 1, 1933 embarked President Franklin Roosevelt from Campobello Island, in New Brunswick, Canada. Departing the same day, Indianapolis arrived two days later at Annapolis, Maryland where six members of the cabinet visited the battleship. On July 4, 1933 after disembarking the President, departed Annapolis and returned to the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

Indianapolis acted as flagship for the remainder of her peacetime career, and again welcomed President Roosevelt at Charleston, South Carolina, on 18 November 1936 for a "Good-Neighbor" cruise to South America. After carrying President Roosevelt to Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, and Montevideo, she returned to Charleston on December 15 where the presidential party departed.

Wartime History
On December 7, 1941, Indianapolis was making a simulated bombardment of Johnston Island when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Afterwards, she joined Task Force 12 (TF 12) and unsucessfully searched for Japanese carriers reportedly still in the vicinity.

On December 13, 1941 arrived at Pearl Harbor and joined Task Force 11 (TF 11) that sortied for the South Pacific.

On February 16, 1942 Task Force 11 was bound for Rabaul and scheduled to launch an attack against Rabaul scheduled for February 21, 1942 in conjunction with U. S. Army Air Force B-17 Flying Fortresses from northern Australia. Instead, on February 20, 1942 the task force was located by the Japanese and attacked by two waves of G4M1 Bettys from the 4th Kokutai. F4F Wildcats from USS Lexington (CV-2) and anti-aircraft fire claimed seventeen bombers without damage to any of the ships.

On March, 10, 1942 while operating from within the Gulf of Papua and reinforced by USS Yorktown (CV-5) launched carrier aircraft attacks against Lae and Salamaua.

Afterwards, Indianapolis returned to Mare Island for an overhaul and alterations. Afterwards, escorted a convoy to Australia. Next, proceeds to the North Pacific to the Aleutian Islands and joins Task Group 8.6 (TG 8.6) bombardment group.

On August 7, 1942 Rear Admiral William W. Smith's Task Group 8.6 (TG 8.6) bombardment group shells Kiska Island including USS Louisville (CA-28), USS Indianapolis (CA-35), USS Nashville (CL-43), USS Honolulu (CL-48) and USS St. Louis (CL-49) plus destroyers USS Elliot (DD-146), USS Reid (DD-369), USS Case (DD-370), USS Gridley (DD-380) and USS McCall (DD-400). Although fog limited observation their floatplanes reported ships sinking in Kiska Harbor and fires burning among shore installations. The Japanese were caught by surprise and took fifteen minutes before shore batteries returned fire and Japanese seaplanes made ineffective attacks. The operation was considered a success despite the scanty information on its results.

In January 1943, Indianapolis supported the occupation of Amchitka Island. On February 19, 1942 during the night Indianapolis and two destroyers patrolled southwest of Attu Island, hoping to intercept enemy ships running reinforcements and supplies to Kiska Island and Attu Island, she contacted a Japanese cargo ship, Akagane Maru. The cargo ship tried to make a reply to the challenge but was shelled and exploded with no survivors, presumably because she was laden with ammunition. Until the middle of 1943, Indianapolis operated in Aleutian waters escorting American convoys and covering amphibious landings.

After another refit at Mare Island, Indianapolis proceeded to Pearl Harbor where she became the flagship of Vice Admiral Raymond A. Spruance commanding the 5th Fleet. On November 10, 1943 sortied from Pearl Harbor with the main body of the Southern Attack Force for Operation Galvanic, the invasion of the Gilbert Islands. On November 19, 1943 Indianapolis bombarded Tarawa and next day hit Makin Island. The ship then returned to Tarawa Island and provided fire-support for the landings. That day her guns shot down an enemy plane and shelled enemy strong points on Tarawa during the battle.

On January 31, 1944 she was part of a cruiser group that bombarded targets in Kwajalein Atoll starting on D-Day minus 1 and during the landings on D-Day and was credited with silencing two short batteries. Next day she obliterated a blockhouse and other shore installations and supported advancing troops with a creeping barrage. She provided additional support until the landings on February 4, 1944.

In March-April, Indianapolis 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 US 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 in the Carolines from interfering with the US landings on New Guinea.

In June, the 5th Fleet conducted 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. 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 US 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 US Navy destroyed a reported 426 Japanese planes while losing only 29. 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 US 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. 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 12-29 September, she bombarded the Island of Peleliu, both before and after the landings. She then departed for Manus where she operated for 10 days before returning to the Mare Island for overhaul.

On February 14, 1945 joined Vice Admiral Marc A. Mitscher's fast carrier task force prior to their attack on Tokyo to cover the upcoming landing on Iwo Jima. The raid achieved complete tactical surprise by approaching the Japanese coast under cover of bad weather prior to the raids on February 16-17, 1945. Throughout the action, Indianapolis was a support ship.

Immediately after the strikes, the Task Force proceeded to the Bonin Islands to support the landings on Iwo Jima. The ship remained there until 1 March, protecting the invasion ships and training her guns on any targets spotted on the beach. The ship returned to Admiral Mitscher's Task Force in time to strike Tokyo again on 25 February and Hachijo 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 demolishing trains.

A large base close to the home islands was needed to press the attack, and Okinawa in the Ryukyu Islands seemed ideal for the part. To capture it with minimum losses, airfields in southern Japan had to be pounded until they were incapable of launching effective airborne opposition to the impending invasion. Indianapolis, with the fast carrier force, departed Ulithi on 14 March, and proceeded toward the Japanese coast. On 18 March, from a position 100 mi (160 km) southeast of Kyūshū, the flat-tops launched strikes against airfields on the island, ships of the Japanese fleet in the harbors of Kobe and Kure on southern Honshū. After locating the American Task Force 21 March, Japan sent 48 planes to attack the ships, but 24 planes from the carriers intercepted the enemy aircraft some 60 miles away. By the end of the battle, every plane in the Japanese attack force had been destroyed.

Preinvasion bombardment of Okinawa began on 24 March, and for seven days Indianapolis poured 8" shells into the beach defenses. Meanwhile, enemy aircraft repeatedly attacked the ships, and 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 20mm guns opened fire, but less than 15 seconds after it was spotted, 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' and crash his plane near the port stern. The plane toppled harmlessly into the sea, but 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 and flooded nearby compartments, killing nine crewmen. Although Indianapolis settled slightly by the stern and listed to port, there was no progressive flooding, and the cruiser steamed to a salvage ship for emergency repairs. Here, inspection revealed that her propeller shafts were damaged, her fuel tanks ruptured, her water-distilling equipment ruined.

Nevertheless, the cruiser made the long trip across the Pacific to Mare Island under her own power and was repaired and overhaulled. Afterwards, proceeded to Tinian island, carrying parts and the uranium projectile for the Little Boy atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

On July 16, 1945 departed San Francisco then arrived three day later at Pearl Harbor then proceeded alone to Tinian Island arriving on July 26, 1945 and had the top secret cargo unloaded. Afterwards, departed for Guam and where some of the senior crew were replaced by replacements sailors then two days later departed bound for Leyte where the crew was to receive additional training before continuing to Okinawa to join Task Force 95 (TF 95) under the command of Vice Admiral Jesse B. Oldendorf.

Sinking History
On July 30, 1945 at 12:14am Indianapolis was hit by two Type 95 torpedoes fired by Japanese submarine I-58 in the North Philippine Sea. One hit the bow and the other hit amidship and the explosions caused massive damage and a heavy list then began to settle by the bow. Twelve minutes later at 12:26am, she rolled over and her stern lifted upward before sinking at roughly Lat 12° 2′ 0″ N Long 134° 48′ 0″ E. In total, Indianapolis earned ten battle stars for her World War II service.

Fates of the Crew
Approximately 300 of the crew went down with the ship. The remaining 900 survivors, many without life jackets and only a few lifeboats. Without food or water, the survivors drifted in the shark-infested open sea for four days until spotted and rescued.

Search
On July 31, 1945 when Indianapolis failed to arrive at Leyte, her failure to arrive was not detected and no searches were immediately undertaken. On August 2, 1945 at 10:25am a PV-1 Ventura from VPB-152 piloted by flown by Lt. Wilbur Gwinn and copilot Lt Warren Colwell on a routine patrol flight spotted men in the water and dropped them a life raft and radio. On August 3, 1945 PBY Catalina from Peleliu. Afterwards, all available air and surface units were sent to the location to rescue the survivors. By then, only 316 men were still alive.

Court Martial
The rescued crew members included Captain Charles B. McVay III. During November 1945 he was court-martialed for failing to zigzag, although he was ordered to "zigzag at his discretion, weather permitting" and Mochitsura Hashimoto, former captain of I-58 testifed that zigzaging would not have prevented the sinking. Afterwards, Nimitz remitted his sentence and returned him to active duty until he retired in 1949 as a Rear Admiral. At age 70, committed suicide in 1968 In July 2001, the United States Secretary of the Navy ordered McVay's official Navy record cleared of all wrongdoing.

Memorials
The Missing In Action (MIA) crew members are memorialized on the courts of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.

The Indiana State Museum includes materials related to Indianapolis. Her commissioning pennant are located at the Heslar Naval Armory. The swim training center at United States Navy Recruit Training Command is named USS Indianapolis.

On August 2, 1985, the USS Indianapolis National Memorial was dedicated on the Canal Walk in Indianapolis, Indiana. In 2007, the USS Indianapolis Museum opened at the Indiana World War Memorial Military Museum. In May 2011, highway I-465 around Indianapolis was named "USS Indianapolis Memorial Highway".

Shipwreck
Between 2001–2016, several expeditions unsucessfully searched for the shipwerck. The first effort between July-August 2001 used side scan sonar. The second effort in June 2005 and was covered by National Geographic. Only pieces of metal were found in the reported sinking, but never confirmed to belong to the ship. Thos expedition was broadcast in the documentary "Finding of the USS Indianapolis". During July 2016 a new position was located in the records of LST-779 and National Georgraphic planned another effort during the middle of 2017.

On August 18, 2017 the shipwreck was discovered by the USS Indianapolis Project aboard Research Vessel Petrel funded by Paul Allen at a deptth of 18,000' / 5,500m and the news of the discovery released days later. During September 2017 a detailed map was released.

The exact location of the site is kept secret, to protect the shipwreck. Most of the shipwreck rests in an impact crater on a rocky bottom. Due to the depth, the ship's condition and preservation is excellent with paint visible and "Indianapolis" stenciled.

The bow broke off before the ship sank and came to rest on the bottom 1.5 miles to the east of the main wreckage. Two 8" guns that broke off at the surface sank 1/2 mile east of the main wreckage, this the last surface position. The wreckage of seaplanes from the ship are located .6 miles away from the main wreckage.

References
CNN "USS Indianapolis discovered 18,000 feet below Pacific surface" August 20, 2017
USNI News "USS Indianapolis Wreckage Well Preserved by Depth and Undersea Environment" August 23, 2017
CNN "A sunken warship, a lost hero and the discovery that reunited an American family" September 30, 2017

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Last Updated
January 10, 2018

 

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