USS Indianapolis – Sinking

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 around the time of her sinking, pictures of the rescue efforts and after-effects of her sinking, and of the Japanese Submarine that sank her, I-58.

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USS Indianapolis (CA-35). Preparing to leave Tinian after delivering atomic bomb components, circa 26 July 1945. She was sunk on 30 July, while en route to the Philippines.

 

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USS Indianapolis (CA-35). Chart of the western Pacific, showing Indianapolis‘ track from Guam to her reported sinking location, with a dashed extension showing her intended route to the Philippines.

 

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USS Indianapolis (CA-35). USS Tranquility (AH-14), a hospital ship, arrives at Guam, carrying survivors of USS Indianapolis (CA-35), 8 August 1945.

 

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USS Indianapolis (CA-35). USS Tranquility (AH-14), a hospital ship, arrives at Guam, carrying survivors of USS Indianapolis (CA-35), 8 August 1945. The bow of USS Steele (DE-8) is in the foreground.

 

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USS Indianapolis (CA-35). Survivors are brought ashore from USS Tranquility (AH-14), a hospital ship, at Guam, 8 August 1945. Nurses and sailors are watching from the hospital ship’s deck. Note Tranquility‘s nested lifeboats. Also busses on the pier.

 

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USS Indianapolis (CA-35). Survivors are brought ashore from USS Tranquility (AH-14), a hospital ship, at Guam, 8 August 1945. They are being placed in Ambulances for immediate transfer to local hospitals.

 

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USS Indianapolis (CA-35). Indianapolis‘ survivors en route to a hospital following their rescue, circa early August 1945. Ambulance in the background is marked “U.S.N. Base Hospital No. 20”, which was located on Pelelieu. Photograph was released 14 August 1945.

 

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USS Indianapolis (CA-35). Indianapolis‘ last Commanding Officer, Captain Charles B. McVay, III, tells War Correspondents about the sinking of his ship. Photographed on Guam in August 1945, following the rescue of her survivors.

 

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I-58 (Japanese Submarine, 1944-1946), outboard of I-53 (Japanese Submarine, 1943-1946). At Kure, Japan, 16 October 1945. I-58 sank USS Indianapolis (CA-35) on 30 July 1945.

 

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I-58 (Japanese Submarine, 1944-1946). View in the forward torpedo room, showing 21-inch torpedo tubes and three crew members. Taken at Sasebo, Japan, 28 January 1946. This submarine torpedoed and sank USS Indianapolis (CA-35) on 30 July 1945.

 

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I-58 (Japanese Submarine, 1944-1946). At Sasebo, Japan, 28 January 1946. This submarine torpedoed and sank USS Indianapolis (CA-35) on 30 July 1945.

 

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I-58 (Japanese Submarine, 1944-1946). Is prepared for scuttling, off Sasebo, Japan, during Operation “Road’s End”, 1 April 1946.

[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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