No better speech, dialouge, or statement could every truly present the horror that was one of the greatest tragedies in the history of the US Navy like this one.
"On 30 July 1945, shortly after delivering critical parts for the first atomic bomb to be used in combat to the United States air base at Tinian, the ship was torpedoed by the Imperial Japanese Navy submarine I-58, sinking in 12 minutes. Of 1,196 crew aboard, approximately 300 went down with the ship. The remaining crew of 800 faced exposure, dehydration and shark attacks as they waited for assistance while floating with no lifeboats and almost no food or water. The Navy only learnt of the sinking when survivors were spotted by accident four days later. Only 316 sailors survived. Indianapolis was one of the last US Navy ships sunk by enemy action in World War II. (USS Bullhead was attacked by Japanese aircraft with depth charges and probably sunk on 6 August 1945.)"
After major repairs and an overhaul, Indianapolis received orders to proceed to Tinian island, carrying parts and the Uranium for the atomic bomb Little Boy which would later be dropped on Hiroshima. Indianapolis departed San Francisco on 16 July. Arriving at Pearl Harbor on 19 July, she raced on unaccompanied, reaching Tinian on 26 July. Indianapolis was then sent to Guam where a number of the crew who had completed their tours of duty were replaced by other sailors. Leaving Guam on 28 July, she began sailing toward Leyte where her crew was to receive training before continuing on to Okinawa to join Vice Admiral Jesse B. Oldendorf's Task Force 95. At 0014 on 30 July, she was struck by two torpedoes from Japanese submarine I-58 under the command of Mochitsura Hashimoto. The explosions caused massive damage, causing Indianapolis to sink in just 12 minutes. The Japanese submarine had gone undetected prior to the attack due to the lack of effective submarine detection equipment on the American ship.
About 300 of the 1,196 men on board died in the sinking. The rest of the crew, 880 men, with few lifeboats and many without lifejackets, floated in the water awaiting rescue. However, the Navy command had no knowledge of the sinking until survivors were spotted four and a half days later, at 1025 on 2 August by pilot Lieutenant Wilbur (Chuck) Gwinn and copilot Lieutenant Warren Colwell on a routine patrol flight. Only 321 crew came out of the water alive, with 316 ultimately surviving. They suffered from lack of food and water (some found rations such as Spam and crackers amongst the debris), exposure to the elements (hypothermia, dehydration, hypernatremia, photophobia, starvation and dementia), severe desquamation, and shark attacks, while some of the men killed one another in various states of delirium and hallucinations. The Discovery Channel has stated that the Indianapolis sinking resulted in the most shark attacks on humans in history, and attributes the attacks to the oceanic whitetip shark species. The same show attributed most of the deaths on Indianapolis to exposure, salt poisoning and thirst, with the dead being dragged off by sharks.
Gwinn immediately dropped a life raft and a radio transmitter. All air and surface units capable of rescue operations were dispatched to the scene at once. A PBY Catalina seaplane under the command of Lieutenant R. Adrian Marks was dispatched to lend assistance and report. En route to the scene, Marks overflew Cecil J. Doyle and alerted her captain, future US Secretary of the Navy W. Graham Claytor, Jr., of the emergency. On his own authority, Claytor decided to divert to the scene.
Arriving hours ahead of Doyle, Marks' crew began dropping rubber rafts and supplies. Having seen men being attacked by sharks, Marks disobeyed standard orders and landed on the open sea. He began taxiing to pick up the stragglers and lone swimmers who were at the greatest risk of shark attack. Learning the men were the crew of Indianapolis, he radioed the news, requesting immediate assistance. Doyle responded she was en route. When Marks' plane's fuselage was full, survivors were tied to the wings with parachute cord, damaging the wings so that the plane would never fly again and had to be sunk. Marks and his crew rescued 56 men that day.
USS Cecil Doyle was the first vessel on the scene. Homing on Marks' Catalina in total darkness, Doyle halted to avoid killing or further injuring survivors, and began taking Marks' survivors aboard. Disregarding the safety of his own vessel, Captain Claytor pointed his largest searchlight into the night sky to serve as a beacon for other rescue vessels. This beacon was the first indication to most survivors that rescuers had arrived.
The USS Helm, USS Madison and USS Ralph Talbot were ordered to the rescue scene from Ulithi, along with USS Dufilho, USS Bassett and USS Ringness from the Philippine Frontier. They searched thoroughly for any survivors until 8 August"
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