Imagine you are on a large ship with over a thousand other people, and the ship is sinking rapidly.How would you feel, most likely panicked or possibly terrified?In the final moments, what would you be thinking?You might be wondering whether or not you would ever see your loved one’s again.For the crew abord the USS Indianapolis, about 75% of them would never see their families again.According to the Naval Historical Center Website, the USS Indianapolis served from Pearl Harbor to the last operation of World War II, only to tragically sink during a mission two weeks before the end of the war.The sinking of the USS Indianapolis is the worst naval disaster in US history; after 5 days of constant shark attacks, terrible thirst, starvation, and ulcers, only 316 men out of 1,196 were rescued from the water.
The last completed mission of the USS Indianapolis was it’s delivery of thefirst operational atomic bomb on 26 July 1945 to Tinian.After the delivery the USS Indianapolis reported to CINCPAC (Commander in Chief Pacific) Headquarters at Guam for further orders.Once there she recieved orders to join the battleship USS Idaho at Leyte Gulf in the Phillipines to invade Japan.At this time USS Indianapolis Captian McVay requested a destroyer escort to the Leyte Gulf.Instead of an escort orders were given to Captain McVay directing him to zigzag at his descretion depending on weather and visability.
The USS Indianapolis left Guam unescorted heading for Leyte Gulf, making it thefirst unescorted capital ship lacking anti-submarine detection equipment during the entire war.Unknown to the USS Indianpolis is that the I-58 Japanese submarine was known to be prowling the Phillipine Sea, in the direct path of the USS Indianapolis.This information was withheld from Captain McVay in order to insure that the Japanese wouldn’t find out that we’d broken their codes.