USS Indianapolis – Overhaul 1942-43

I’ve spoken previously about the USS Indianapolis and my father’s time on it. Commissioned in November 1932, the Indy spent most of the 1930’s on goodwill missions. She spent the first few months of World War Two in the South Pacific before heading to Alaska to participate in the campaign there against the Japanese in the Aleutians. In late 1943, she became the flagship of Admiral Spruance and during 1944 and 1945 participated in operations in the Gilbert Islands, Marshall Islands, Marianas Islands, Peleliu Island, Iwo Jima, the Japanese home islands, and the Ryukyus. Her final mission was to transport atomic bomb components from California to Tinian Island in the Marianas. She sailed for the Philippines after and was sank on 30 July 1945 by the Japanese submarine I-58 resulting in the largest single loss of life at sea in the history of the US Navy.

The following pictures are of the USS Indianapolis during her first couple of World War Two overhauls that took place in the spring of 1942 and 1943 respectively. Naval overhauls were common events during World War Two as older ships were modernized in an attempt to match the capabilities of younger ships. World War Two forced many countries, especially the United States, to drastically increase their military funding which enabled these overhauls to occur more frequently. This process also occurred as new technologies became available for more wide-spread use and warfare tactics evolved to face specific threats. Examples of this include the development of radar and a focus on anti-submarine and anti-air armament.

USS Indianapolis (CA-35). Closeup view of her well deck area, from the port side, at the Mare Island Navy Yard, 19 April 1942, following overhaul. Note her forward smokestack, catapults, and Curtiss SOC Seagull aircraft. USS Raleigh (CL-7) is in the background.

USS Indianapolis (CA-35). Closeup view of her after half, from the port side, at the Mare Island Navy Yard, 19 April 1942, following overhaul. Note her SOC seaplanes, 5″/25 guns and ready service ammunition, after smokestack, searchlights, “horse” collar emergency life float alongside the railing in lower right center and top edge of armor belt. USS Raleigh (CL-7) is in the background.

USS Indianapolis (CA-35). Closeup view of her forward half, from the port side, at the Mare Island Navy Yard, 19 April 1942, following overhaul. Note details of her forward main battery gun director, with an “FC” radar antenna on its top, aircraft catapult, and .30 caliber machinegun mounted on the bridge wing railing. USS Raleigh (CL-7) is in the background.

USS Indianapolis (CA-35). Off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, 20 April 1942, following her first wartime overhaul.

USS Indianapolis (CA-35). Closeup view of her after superstructure from the starboard side, at the Mare Island Navy Yard, 1 May 1943, following overhaul. White outlines mark recent alterations to the ship. Note Mk.4 radar antenna on her after Mk.33 gun director (in left center), 26-foot motor whaleboat and davits, and heavy riveting on her midships hull side.

USS Indianapolis (CA-35). Closeup view of her after superstructure and hull, from the starboard side, at the Mare Island Navy Yard following overhaul, 1 May 1943. White outlines mark recent alterations to the ship. Note newly fitted 40mm and 20mm guns, Mk.33 gun director with a Mk.4 radar antenna, 26-foot motor whaleboat swung out on its davits, and heavy rivitting on her hull side. Stern of USS Minneapolis (CA-36) is in the background.

USS Indianapolis (CA-35). Closeup view of her after starboard midships area, at the Mare Island Navy Yard following overhaul, 1 May 1943. White outlines mark recent alterations to the ship. Note newly fitted mainmast, immediately before the after smokestack, searchlight, 5″/25 guns, and young woman at the top of her embarkation ladder.

USS Indianapolis (CA-35). Closeup view of her after midships area, from the starboard side, at the Mare Island Navy Yard, following overhaul, 1 May 1943. White outlines mark recent alterations to the ship. Note aircraft catapults and crane, new hangar doors, “star” rivitting pattern on her forward smokestack, and searchlights mounted by her after stack. USS Minneapolis (CA-36) is in the background, stripped for overhaul.

USS Indianapolis (CA-35). View from off her starboard bow, at the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, following overhaul, 1 May 1943.
White outlines mark recent alterations to the ship. Note new forward superstructure, 8″/55 triple gun turrets, starboard anchor, anchor gear on forecastle, and paravane downrigging chains at the extreme bow. USS Minneapolis (CA-36) is in the background, stripped for overhaul.

USS Indianapolis (CA-35) off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, 2 May 1943, after her second wartime overhaul, in which her after boat stowage was eliminated, her mainmast moved to just forward of the second funnel, her forward superstructure was remodeled, and her anti-aircraft battery was enhanced.

USS Indianapolis (CA-35) off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, 2 May 1943, after her second wartime overhaul.

[Images courtesy of the Department of the Navy – Naval History & Heritage Command.]

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: http://charlesmccain.com/

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