USS Indianapolis Still At Sea Program Visits Westchester School

March 30th, 2009 - 10:02 pm ICT by GD  

USS Indianapolis CA-35 cruiser The USS Indianapolis Still at Sea program visited a Westchester School last week to tell students about a naval mistake that took the lives of 880 US sailors.

The USS Indianapolis CA-35 cruiser was the ship commissioned to deliver the first operational atomic bomb to Tinian Island before it was dropped on Hiroshima. After delivering the secret cargo the ship was to report to Guam and then to Leyte Gulf in the Philippines to ready it to invade Japan at Okinawa. the ship left Guam on July 28, and was sailing on direct course when it was spotted by the Japanese submarine I-58 on July 30. The commander of the submarine Mochistura Hashimoto ordered six torpedoes to be fired at the cruiser. Two hit and the second slammed the ammunition depot of the ship. Critically damaged, the ship sank in twelve minutes forcing all of its crew into the water.

As the USS Indianapolis was on a secret mission Leyte had not been informed of its arrival and therefore it was never listed as overdue. Four days later Lieutenant Wilbur C. Gwinn of the US aircraft PV-1 Ventura Bomber patrolling the area found a few survivors and rescue units were able to save only 321 of the ship’s crew, four of whom succumbed to injuries later.

Commanding officer Captain Charles Butler McVay III was among the survivors but he was later court martialed for not following an evasive course. However later he was remitted of the conviction and restored to active duty. He committed suicide unable to face the humiliation and guilt.

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