USS Indianapolis – Presidential Flagship

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 the month long “Good Neighbor” cruise that took President Franklin D Roosevelt to South America to visit Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, and Montevideo. The Department of the Navy – Naval History and Heritage Command has a copy of the Presidential scrapbook from this trip here.

USS Indianapolis (CA-35). Scene in the ship’s pilothouse, late November 1936, as she carried President Franklin D. Roosevelt on his “Good Neighbor” cruise to South America. Indianapolis’ Commanding Officer, Captain Henry Kent Hewitt, is seated in left center.

USS Indianapolis (CA-35). Crewmen display the Presidential Flag below the ship’s brass data plaque, as she carried President Franklin D. Roosevelt on his “Good Neighbor” cruise to South America in late November 1936.

USS Indianapolis (CA-35). Bow of the Presidential barge, showing the four stars and seal of the President of the United States. Photographed on board Indianapolis as she carried President Franklin D. Roosevelt on his “Good Neighbor” cruise to South America in late November 1936.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt (second from left) Waves “farewell” to Charleston, South Carolina, as he leaves for his “Good Neighbor” cruise to South America, on board USS Indianapolis (CA-35), 18 November 1936. Those present include (from left to right): James Roosevelt; President Roosevelt; Captain Paul H. Bastedo, USN; Colonel Edwin M. Watson, US Army; and Captain Ross T. McIntire, USN(MC).

USS Indianapolis (CA-35). Leaves Charleston, South Carolina, carrying President Franklin D. Roosevelt on his “Good Neighbor” cruise to South America, 18 November 1936.

USS Indianapolis (CA-35). Ship’s Commanding Officer, Captain Henry Kent Hewitt, USN, (left), hears “Davy Jones” read the message from “King Neptune”, as the ship crosses the Equator in late November 1936. She was then conveying President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his party on a “Good Neighbor” cruise to South America. Commander Oscar C. Badger is looking on, at right.

James Roosevelt (center), son of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, receives some of the punishment due a “Polywog” at the hands of “Shellbacks”, during Neptune Ceremonies on board USS Indianapolis (CA-35), as she crosses the Equator in late November 1936. Indianapolis was then carrying the President and his party on a “Good Neighbor” cruise to South America.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt (center) pleads his case before the Royal Court of “Shellbacks” as his “defense attorney” listens intently at left, during Neptune Ceremonies on board USS Indianapolis (CA-35), as she crosses the Equator in late November 1936. Indianapolis was then carrying the President and his party on a “Good Neighbor” cruise to South America.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt receives the salute of the Argentine Navy while standing beneath the eight-inch guns of USS Indianapolis (CA-35), during his “Good Neighbor” cruise to South America, 29 November 1936.

USS Indianapolis (CA-35). Arrives at Buenos Aires, Argentina, with President Franklin D. Roosevelt on board, 30 November 1936, during the President’s “Good Neighbor” cruise to South America.

[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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