USS Indianapolis (CA-35)

USS Indianapolis (CA-35)

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USS Indianapolis (CA-35)

Introduction and Pre-War

USS Indianapolis (CA-35) was a Portland class cruiser that fought in the Aleutians, the Gilbert and Marshall Islands, Saipan, the battle of the Philippine Sea, Tinian, Guam the Carolines, Iwo Jima and Okinawa, but is best know for being sunk after parts of the first Atomic bomb to Tinian. The Indianapolis earned 10 battle stars for World War II service.

The Indianapolis was laid down in March 1930, launched in November 1931 and commissioned on 15 November 1932. She was equipped to serve as a flagship, and that also made her a suitable ship to carry VIPs. One of her first missions after her shakedown cruise was to carry President Roosevelt to Annapolis in July 1933. In September 1933 she became the flagship of the Secretary of the Navy while he conducted an inspection tour of US naval assets in the Pacific. On 1 November 1933 she became flagship of the Scouting Force. In this role she carried President Roosevelt as he reviewed the fleet in 1934 and again as he made a visit to South America, visiting Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires and Montevideo.

Wartime Service

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor the Indianapolis was at sea, carrying out a simulated bombardment of Johnston Island (750 nautical miles to the south-west of Hawaii). After the Japanese attack she joined Task Force 12, which took part in an unsuccessful attempt to find the Japanese carriers. She then returned to Pearl Harbor, arriving on 13 December, where she joined Task Force 11.

The Indianapolis provided part of the covering force for the carriers Lexington and Saratoga during early operations in the South Pacific and around New Guinea. Her first combat experience came on 20 February 1942 when the fleet was attacked by eighteen Japanese aircraft, shooting down 16 of them. On 10 March the carriers, with Yorktown added to the force, launched an attack on Japanese shipping at Lae and Salamaua. The fleet was situated south of New Guinea and the aircraft flew north across the island to catch the Japanese by surprise.

After this attack the Indianapolis returned to the United States for a refit at the Mare Island Navy Yard. This lasted until July, when she returned to the Pacific escorting a convoy to Australia. She then moved to the opposite end of the Pacific to take part in the Aleutian Campaign. On 7 August the Indianapolis took part in a bombardment of Kiska Island. In January 1943 she supported the invasion of Amchitka. On 19 February 1943, while steaming southwest of Attu, she intercepted and destroyed the Akagane Maru, a Japanese cargo ship.

The Indianapolis remained in the Aleutians until the end of the campaign. She supported the invasion of Attu in May 1943 and the invasion of Kiska of 15 August. When the Americans landed on Kiska they discovered that the Japanese had evacuated the island under the cover of the terrible weather.

The Indianapolis now returned to the centre of the fighting, become Vice Admiral Spruance's flagship (5th Fleet). She took part in Operation Galvanic, the invasion of the Gilbert Islands, bombarding Tarawa on 19 November and Makin on 20 November. She then supported the US troops fighting on Tarawa.

The Indianapolis was still the fleet flagship for the invasion of the Marshall Islands. She bombarded Kwajalein Atoll on 31 January and supported the invasion of 1 February 1944. On 2 February she even performed a creeping barrage to support the American troops. She was able to enter the lagoon on 4 February, where she remained until the end of the battle.

In March-April 1944 she took part in a series of attacks on the Palau Islands. These were mainly carrier attacks, and aircraft hit the Palau Islands on 30-31 March, Yap and Ulithi on 31 March and Woleai on 1 April. The Indianapolis's main role was to fight off Japanese aircraft and she shot down one torpedo bomber during the raids.

In June the Indianapolis took part in the invasion of the Mariana Islands. On 13 June she took part in a bombardment of Saipan, firing her main guns in action. The Japanese responded to the invasion of Saipan by sending a powerful fleet to attack the Americans, hoping to fight the single decisive battle they had built their strategy around. The result was indeed a major battle - the Battle of the Philippine Sea (June 1944), but it would be the Japanese who suffered the defeat. The Indianapolis was part of the escort for a fast carrier force that was sent to raid air bases in Iwo Jima and Chichi Jima then rejoin the fleet just before the main battle. During the battle she shot down one Japanese torpedo aircraft.

The Indianapolis returned to the Mariana Islands on 23 June. She took part in the fighting on Tinian, before becoming the first US warship to enter Apra Harbor on Guam, a pre-war US base. She then moved to Peleliu, where she bombarded shore targets from 19-29 September.

After serving at Peleliu she returned to Mare Island for a refit. She then joined Admiral Marc Matcher's fast carrier force and was with it for the first carrier attack on Tokyo since the Doolittle raid of April 1942. The attack, on 16-17 February 1945, served both as a blow against Japanese morale, and as cover for the invasion of Iwo Jima.

After the attack on the Home Islands the fleet moved to join the attack on Iwo Jima. The Indianapolis acted as a shore bombardment ship for much of the battle, staying until the start of March.

The same pattern was repeated for the invasion of Okinawa. In mid-March the fast carriers left Ulithi and on 18 March attacked targets on Kyushu and Honshu. On 24 March the Indianapolis began seven days of shore bombardment at Okinawa. On 31 March she was attacked by a single fighter aircraft. Despite heavy fire the fighter managed to drop a bomb on the port side of the aft main deck, before crashing into the ship. The kamikaze attack did little damage but the bomb penetrated the deck armour, went straight through the entire ship and exploded under her. The explosion created two underwater holes and killed nice. Part of the ship flooded, but the problem was kept under control and she was able to move to a salvage ship under her own power. She had suffered quite severe damage in the attack, but was still just about to make her way back to Mare Island under her own power.

After the last set of repairs was completed the Indianapolis was given an important mission, to carry the parts of the atomic bombs across the Pacific to Tinian. She left San Francisco on 16 July, reached Pearl Harbor on 19 July and got to Tinian on 26 July, a trip of 5,000 miles in 10 days.

The Indianapolis reached Tinian on 26 July and delivered her deadly cargo. Her next port of call was Guam. She was then sent on a routine trip to Leyte, well away from the main combat zones. Her captain, Charles McVay, wanted a destroyer escort but the area was felt to be safe and so she cruiser sailed unescorted. Early in the morning of 30 July 1945 she crossed the path of the Japanese submarine I-58, commanded by Lt. Cdr. Mochitsura Hashimoto. He first six torpedoes, two of which hit the Indianapolis on the starboard front side. She sank in only twelve minutes.

Tragically the loss of the Indianapolis wasn't noticed at Leyte, where she was meant to have arrived on 31 July. Her survivors were finally discovered by a patrolling Lockheed PV-Ventura and the rescue effort finally began. The delay meant that only 316 of the estimated 800 survivors were rescued. The Indianapolis was the last major Allied warship to be sunk during the Second World War.

Wartime Modifications

Early in 1942 the Indianapolis was given quad 1.1in guns to improve her anti-aircraft firepower.

In 1943 the Indianapolis was give fire control and search radar. Some of the radar equipment was carried on a new lattice tripod mast that was added close to the aft funnel. A number of 20mm anti-aircraft guns were also installed. By the time she fought in the Aleutians she also carried a twin 40mm Bofors gun mount on Number Three turret.

By the summer of 1944 six quadruple 40mm Bofors guns had been added and the number of 20mm guns had been increased to nineteen. At the same time the number of aircraft was reduced to three and the starboard catapult removed.

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed



10,000nm at 15kts

Armour – belt


- machinery

0.75in belt
2.5in deck

- magazines

5.75in belt
2.125in deck

- barbettes


- gunhouses

2.5in face
2in roof
0.75in side and rear


610ft oa


Nine 8in guns (three 3-gun turrets)
Eight 5in/25 guns (eight single positions)
Eight 0.5in guns (eight single positions)
Four aircraft

Crew complement

807 (917 Indianapolis)

Laid down

31 March 1930


7 November 1931


15 November 1932


30 July 1945

Wreckage of USS Indianapolis found

© 2017 Navigea Ltd. R/V Petrel

A ship's bell is visible amid the wreckage of the USS Indianapolis.

More than 70 years after the heavy cruiser was sunk with the greatest loss of life in U.S. Navy history, an expedition has located the wreckage of the Indianapolis on the floor of the North Pacific Ocean, more than 18,000 feet below the surface.

The Search for Survivors

“As we approached the scene, all hands not required to man the engine, fireroom, the CIC, or the radio were called on deck, and stationed as high as possible to visually look for survivors. I decided not to use our four LCVP landing craft to pick people out of the water. Boat crews had limited horizontal sight, compared to lookouts on the ship. And, any men picked up by the boats would still have to be transferred to the Ringness.

“About 10 am, we came upon our first group of survivors—eight or nine men aboard three rafts that were lashed together. One of the men, an officer in khakis, was standing up and frantically waving his arms, as if we did not see the rafts and were going to run them down. The Ringness was carefully maneuvered alongside the rafts, and the survivors clambered up cargo nets with a minimum of assistance from our crew.

“The rescued officer proved to be Capt. Charles B. McVay III, commanding officer of the Indianapolis. Concerning the rescue, one author stated: ‘McVay stumbled to the bridge and stammered out his story to Lt. Cmdr. William C. Meyer, skipper of the Ringness.…’ This statement is just not true. When Captain McVay came aboard, he received immediate medical attention, and was bedded down in the CO’s cabin. He was too honorable a naval officer to interrupt a ship’s company involved in rescuing his men from the sea. My first personal contact with the captain was in my cabin about 1 o’clock. This was after I determined our sector had been fully covered, and I had checked with our ship’s doctor as to whether it would be all right to talk to Captain McVay.

A Watery Nightmare

An estimated four hundred men died in the torpedo explosions, but 850 men managed to escape to the sea. The cruiser went down so fast, however, that few lifeboats and rafts were put in the water. Most of the survivors depended on their life jackets to keep them afloat.

The terror began Monday—when the sharks attacked. But sharks were not the only danger to be faced. Because no other Allied craft were in the vicinity and no SOS had been sent, no Allied authorities would know for a considerable time about the sinking, thus delaying rescue efforts. The hours, then the days, wore on. Exposure to the blinding sun, vomiting from swallowing seawater and oil, extreme thirst and sheer desperation soon thinned the ranks of the survivors. Life jackets became waterlogged and lost their buoyancy, dragging sailors down to a watery grave.

The men in the water tried to attract the attention of distant aircraft, but for days to no avail. It was not until four days later that a Navy bomber pilot spotted the oil slick of the Indianapolis, and noticed dozens of delirious men frantically waving at him.

A Catalina PBY seaplane soon arrived and dropped life rafts and supplies. The pilot then landed on the water and 56 men climbed aboard—covering the body and wings. The PBY became a rescue boat.

Surviving the Sinking of the USS Indianapolis

Hundreds of the ship's crew floated on the Pacific for days. Their location and fate were unknown to the US Navy.

A native of Massachusetts, Harlan Twible was a fresh graduate of the US Naval Academy when he was assigned to the heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis (CA-35) in late June 1945. He had wanted to be assigned to a newer, more glamorous ship, desiring to be either a naval aviator or a submariner. Like any young, confident Academy graduate, Twible wanted to carve a place for himself in history, and he assumed that a cruiser like the Indianapolis, affectionately known as the “Indy” to her crew, would not be that ship. Fate would prove him wrong on that assumption.

On July 26, 1945, Twible and “Indy” were sitting dockside on the island of Tinian. Twible, serving as officer of the deck that day, looked out across the pier and noticed an abnormally large contingent of “brass”—high ranking military officers—clustered in large groups on the pier. What Twible did not know at the time was that his ship had transported vital parts for the world’s first nuclear weapon to be used in warfare to scientists on Tinian. The ship’s mission was top secret, so the officers and men alike had no idea of their cargo’s importance or why there were so many high-ranking officers watching the crew unload its vital cargo. “There were admirals . . . everything that was of importance on the island of Tinian was there to greet what we later found out was the bomb,” he said.

Following the delivery of her cargo, the “Indy” was sent to Guam and ordered to join with other surface forces in the area of Leyte Gulf, Philippines, for further training before the invasion of Japan. On July 29, 1945, “Indy” was sailing toward her rendezvous with the fleet at a speed of 17 knots, unescorted and alone. At 0015 on July 30, the heavy cruiser was struck by two Japanese torpedoes fired from the submarine I-58. The first torpedo blew the bow off of the ship while the second struck nearly amidships near the powder magazine. The resulting explosion literally split the ship to the keel, knocking out all power and causing her to sink by the bow rapidly.

Aboard the stricken vessel, young Ensign Twible looked around to find no officers taking charge of the chaotic situation. “We knew we were in trouble,” he said. “So I took command and I told them to hang on to anything they could hang on to. . . . Then when the tilt became too great . . . I gave the order to abandon ship. Nobody abandoned, then I yelled, 'Follow me!' And the bodies came in so fast it was unbelievable.” Twible jumped into the sea and immediately swam away from the ship. Indianapolis went down in a mere 12 minutes, bringing nearly 300 of her crew down with her. As she disappeared beneath the waves, 900 of the ship’s crew floated in the Pacific Ocean, their location and fate unknown to the US Navy.

Following the ship’s sinking, the next task at hand for Twible and his shipmates was survival on the open sea. Many of the crew, including Twible, had been wounded during the torpedo explosions, some grievously. “Everybody was scared to death,” he said. “These were all 18- and 19-year-old kids.” Despite their young age, the men were somewhat calm after they were put into the water. “There wasn’t any fighting, any turmoil.” he said. “But everybody was scared.” Many of the crew formed into groups for mutual protection as the night wore on. As the sun rose, Twible conducted a head count and realized that he was the only officer in charge of 325 survivors.

As day one wore on to day four, many of the men began to lose faith that they would ever be rescued. “We tried to keep the men thinking that they would be saved, but there was no way in God’s green earth that I knew we were gonna be saved,” he said. “My fear was really for the men, not for myself. My biggest concern was that the people we could save, we saved them.”

Desperation and fear grew among the men floating in the shark-infested waters. The common image of the story of the Indianapolis is that of hundreds of men being ravaged by sharks for days on end. While there were many shark attacks, the exact figure for death by shark attack among the survivors is unknown there were many survivors who never even saw a shark. Twible and his group, however, were not among those fortunate men. The sharks grabbed some of the survivors who had floated away from the larger groups, so Twible organized “shark watches” to keep the men together and fend off the sharks when they came in. The sharks usually stayed away from the larger groups, which would beat and kick the sharks, normally forcing them away. Still, the predators took their toll on the survivors on Twible’s group. Twible insisted on cutting the dead men off of floating wreckage they had tied themselves to, then pushing the dead out to sea so that those who remained would not have a constant visual example of their potential fate.

After four days and five nights, the survivors were finally sighted by a US Navy aircraft on routine patrol. The pilot radioed the report of “many men in the water,” which alerted a PBY flying boat that in turn alerted a nearby destroyer, the USS Cecil Doyle (DD-368). Rescuing sailors through the night, the PBY and the destroyer were the answer to the survivor’s prayers. Of the 900 men who went into the water, only 316 survived to be rescued. The Indianapolis disaster remains one of the worst—and most controversial—tragedies in US Navy history.

Harlan Twible stayed in the Navy following World War II, serving through the Korean War, eventually retiring in 1958 due to health issues sustained during his time floating in the Pacific Ocean. He entered the business world and became successful, retiring at age 54 and moving to Florida with his wife. Like many combat veterans, Harlan Twible never talked about the disaster in the years immediately following the war. He tried his best to forget what had happened, and didn’t discuss the sinking and his time adrift at sea, not even with his wife. Initially, the horrible experience was too much for Twible to share, but his thoughts eventually changed. He feels that talking about the disaster helps people remember it and honors those who never made it out of the sea. Reflecting on his decision to order the crew to abandon ship, he said, “What decision could I ever make that was anywhere near as important (as) the decision to tell those men to throw their lives into the water? That was one of the biggest decisions I ever made. I was gambling everybody’s life that we were gonna win.”

Seth Paridon

Seth Paridon was a staff historian at The National WWII Museum from 2005 to 2020. He began his career conducting oral histories and research for HBO’s miniseries The Pacific and holds the distinction of being the first historian hired by the Museum’s Research Department. In the 12 years he was Manager of Research Services, Seth and his team increased the oral history collection from 25 to nearly 5,000 oral histories.

USS Indianapolis (CA-35) Trivia Quiz

    It participated in all three battles: The USS Indianapolis earned 10 battle stars for World War II service. On December 7, 1941, she was exercising off Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked. She saw her first action in 1942, in the South Pacific, deep in Japanese-dominated waters.

In November 1943, after refitting at Mare Island, she became the flagship of Vice Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, commanding the U.S. 5th Fleet. On Novemeber 19, 1943, she acted as a fire-support ship during battle of Tarawa. In June 1944, she participated in the "Marianas Turkey Shoot." On February 19, 1945, she participated as support ship during the critical preinvasion bombardment of Iwo Jima.

The Discovery Channel stated the sinking of the USS Indianapolis resulted in the most shark attacks on humans in history. The majority of the attacks were attributed to the oceanic whitetip shark.

Unfortunately, the relatives of many crew-members aboard the USS Indianapolis held McVay responsible for the deaths of their loved ones. McVay committed suicide by shooting himself with his service revolver at his home in Litchfield, Connecticut. (Reference: "On the Warpath in the Pacific: Admiral Jocko Clark and the Fast Carriers," New York: Reynolds, 2000)

USS Indianapolis (CA-35) - History

9,950 Tons (As Built)
10,110 Tons (Standard)
610' 3" x 66' 1" x 17' 4"
9 x 8" .55 cal guns (3x3)
8 x 5" .25 cal guns
3 x 3 pounder guns
4 x floatplanes
2 x catapults

After a shakedown in the Atlantic Ocean and Guantánamo Bay until February 23, 1932 then steamed to the Canal Zone (CZ) and transited the Panama Canal into the Pacific Ocean and underwent additional training exercises and operated off the coast of Chile. After overhaul at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, departed for Maine. On July 1, 1933 embarked U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt from Campobello Island in New Brunswick, Canada. Departing later that day and two days later arrived at Annapolis, Maryland where six members of the Cabinet toured the battleship. On July 4, 1933 after disembarking the U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt departed Annapolis and returned to the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

Afterwards, Indianapolis acted as flagship for the remainder of her peacetime career. On November 18, 1936 at Charleston again welcomed aboard U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt for a "Good-Neighbor" cruise to South America transporting the President Roosevelt to Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, and Montevideo, Indianapolis returned to Charleston on December 15, 1936 when the President and his party disembarked.

Wartime History
On December 7, 1941, Indianapolis was making a simulated bombardment of Johnston Island when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Afterwards, she joined Task Force 12 (TF 12) and unsuccessfully searched for Japanese carriers reportedly still in the vicinity.

On December 13, 1941 arrived at Pearl Harbor and joined Task Force 11 (TF-11) that sortied for the South Pacific.

On February 16, 1942 Task Force 11 (TF-11) was northeast of Rabaul and her carrier planes planned a a stike in conjunction with U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) B-17E Flying Fortresses from northern Australia. On February 20, 1942 the task force was spotted by the Japanese and targeted by two waves of G4M1 Bettys from the 4th Kōkūtai (4th Air Group). The bombers were intercepted by F4F Wildcats from USS Lexington (CV-2) and anti-aircraft fire claimed seventeen bombers shot down. Although none of the ships were damaged, the carrier plane strike scheduled for February 21, 1942 was aborted.

On March, 10, 1942 operated in the Gulf of Papua to defend USS Yorktown (CV-5) for a strike by carrier aircraft against Lae and Salamaua.

Afterwards, Indianapolis returned to Mare Island for an overhaul and alterations. Afterwards, escorted a convoy to Australia. Next, proceeds to the North Pacific to the Aleutian Islands and joins Task Group 8.6 (TG 8.6) bombardment group.

On August 7, 1942 Rear Admiral William W. Smith's Task Group 8.6 (TG 8.6) bombardment group shells Kiska Island including USS Louisville (CA-28), USS Indianapolis (CA-35), USS Nashville (CL-43), USS Honolulu (CL-48) and USS St. Louis (CL-49) plus destroyers USS Elliot (DD-146), USS Reid (DD-369), USS Case (DD-370), USS Gridley (DD-380) and USS McCall (DD-400). Although fog limited observation their floatplanes reported ships sinking in Kiska Harbor and fires burning among shore installations. The Japanese were caught by surprise and took fifteen minutes before shore batteries returned fire and Japanese seaplanes made ineffective attacks. The operation was considered a success despite the scanty information on its results.

In January 1943, Indianapolis supported the occupation of Amchitka Island. On February 19, 1943 during the night Indianapolis and two destroyers patrolled southwest of Attu Island, hoping to intercept enemy ships running reinforcements and supplies to Kiska Island and Attu Island, she contacted a Japanese cargo ship, Akagane Maru. The cargo ship tried to make a reply to the challenge but was shelled and exploded with no survivors, presumably because she was laden with ammunition. Until the middle of 1943, Indianapolis continued to operate in the Aleutian Islands and Alaska escorting convoys and covering amphibious landings.

After another refit at Mare Island, Indianapolis proceeded to Pearl Harbor where she became the flagship of Vice Admiral Raymond A. Spruance commanding the 5th Fleet. On November 10, 1943 sortied from Pearl Harbor with the main body of the Southern Attack Force for Operation Galvanic, the invasion of the Gilbert Islands. On November 19, 1943 Indianapolis bombarded Tarawa and next day hit Makin Island. The ship then returned to Tarawa Island and provided fire-support for the landings. That day her guns shot down an enemy plane and shelled enemy strong points on Tarawa during the battle.

On January 30, 1944 Indianapolis was part of a cruiser group that arrived off Kwajalein Atoll and began shore bombardment of targets before the amphibious landing. On January 31, 1944 while the U.S. Marines landed, credited with silencing two shore batteries. On Februray 1, 1944 credited with obliterated a blockhouse and other shore installations and supported advancing troops with a creeping barrage then continued to provide fire support until departing on February 4, 1944.

During March 1944 until April 1944, Indianapolis supported the operations in the Western Carolines including support for the March 30, 1944 to March 31, 1944 U.S. Navy carrier aircraft raids against shipping off Palau. In addition, airfields were bombed and surrounding waters mined to immobilize enemy ships. On March 31, 1944 both Yap and Ulithi were hit and on April 1, 1944 Woleai was attacked. During these three days, Japanese planes attacked the U.S. fleet but were driven off without damaging the American ships. Indianapolis claimed the shoot down of a her enemy plane, a torpedo bomber. These attacks prevented Japanese in the Carolines from interfering with U.S. landings in New Guinea.

In June 1944, the 5th Fleet conducted the assault on the Mariana Islands. Raids on Saipan began with carrier-based planes on 11 June, followed by surface bombardment, in which Indianapolis had a major role, from 13 June. On D-Day, 15 June, Admiral Spruance received reports that a large fleet of battleships, carriers, cruisers, and destroyers was headed south to relieve their threatened garrisons in the Marianas. Since amphibious operations at Saipan had to be protected at all costs, Admiral Spruance could not draw his powerful surface units too far from the scene. Consequently, a fast carrier force was sent to meet this threat while another force attacked Japanese air bases on Iwo Jima and Chichi Jima in the Bonin and Volcano Islands, bases for potential enemy air attacks.

A combined US fleet fought the Japanese on June 19, 1944 in the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Japanese carrier planes, which hoped to use the airfields of Guam and Tinian to refuel and rearm and attack American off-shore shipping, were met by carrier planes and the guns of the Allied escorting ships. That day, the US Navy destroyed a reported 426 Japanese planes while losing only 29. Indianapolis herself shot down one torpedo plane. This day of aerial combat became known throughout the fleet as the Battle of the Philippine Sea (Great Marianas Turkey Shoot). With Japanese air opposition wiped out, the US carrier planes pursued and sank Hiyō, two destroyers, and one tanker and inflicted severe damage on other ships. Two other carriers, Taihō and Shōkaku, were sunk by submarines.

Indianapolis returned to Saipan on 23 June to resume fire support there and six days later moved to Tinian to smash shore installations. Meanwhile, Guam had been taken and Indianapolis was the first ship to enter Apra Harbor since that American base had fallen early in the war. The ship operated in the Marianas for the next few weeks, then moved to the Western Carolines where further landings were planned. From 12-29 September, she bombarded the Island of Peleliu, both before and after the landings. She then departed for Manus where she operated for 10 days before returning to the Mare Island for overhaul.

On February 14, 1945 joined Vice Admiral Marc A. Mitscher's fast carrier task force prior to their attack on Tokyo to cover the upcoming landing on Iwo Jima. The raid achieved complete tactical surprise by approaching the Japanese coast under cover of bad weather prior to the raids on February 16-17, 1945. Throughout the action, Indianapolis was a support ship.

Immediately after the strikes, the Task Force proceeded to the Bonin Islands to support the landings on Iwo Jima. The ship remained there until March 1, 1945 to protecting the invasion force and provide fire support against shore targets. The ship returned to Admiral Mitscher's Task Force in time to strike Tokyo again on February 25, 1945 and Hachijo off the southern coast of Honshū the following day. Despite extremely bad weather, the raids claimed 158 planes and five small ships sunk, damaged to ground installations and trains.

On March 14, 1945 departed Ulithi with the fast carrier force bound for Japan. On March, 18, 1945 while 100 miles southeast of Kyūshū, the carriers launched strikes against airfields and ships in Kobe and Kure. On March 21, 1945 a force of 48 enemy aircraft attempt an attack but were intercepted by defending fighters 60 miles away shooting down every plane before they could strike.

On March 24, 1945 participated in the pre-invasion bombardment of Okinawa for seven days with Indianapolis contributing 8" gunfire targeting beach defenses. Meanwhile, enemy aircraft repeatedly attacked the ships, and Indianapolis shot down six planes and damaged two others.

On March 31, 1945 in the early morning, lookouts spotted a Japanese fighter as in a vertical dive aiming at the bridge. In defense, the ship's 20mm cannons opened fire less than 15 seconds after it was spotted as the enemy plane was over the ship. Tracers converged on it, causing it to swerve, but the enemy pilot managed to release a bomb from a height of 25' before crashing into the port stern. The plane toppled harmlessly into the sea, but the bomb plummeted through the deck, into the crew's mess hall, down through the berthing compartment, and through the fuel tanks before crashing through the keel and exploding underwater. The concussion blew two gaping holes in the keel and flooded nearby compartments, killing nine crewmen. Although Indianapolis began to settled slightly by the stern and listed to port, there was no progressive flooding and steamed to a salvage ship for emergency repairs.

Afterwards, inspection revealed that her propeller shafts were damaged, her fuel tanks ruptured and water-distilling equipment ruined. Despite the damage, the cruiser steamed under her own power across the Pacific Ocean back to Mare Island for repairs and overhaul. Afterwards, proceeded to Tinian island transporting parts and the uranium projectile for the "Little Boy" atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

On July 16, 1945 departed San Francisco and three days later arrived at Pearl Harbor then proceeded alone to Tinian Island arriving July 26, 1945 where her top secret cargo was unloaded. Afterwards, departed for Guam and where some of the senior crew were replaced with replacements sailors. Two days later. she departed bound for Leyte where the crew was to receive additional training before continuing to Okinawa to join Task Force 95 (TF-95) under the command of Vice Admiral Jesse B. Oldendorf.

Sinking History
On July 30, 1945 at 12:14am Indianapolis was hit by two Type 95 torpedoes fired by Japanese submarine I-58 in the North Philippine Sea. One hit the bow and the other hit amidships and the explosions caused massive damage and a heavy list then began to settle by the bow. Twelve minutes later at 12:26am, she rolled over and her stern lifted upward before sinking at roughly Lat 12° 2′ 0″ N Long 134° 48′ 0″ E . In total, Indianapolis earned ten battle stars for her World War II service.

Fates of the Crew
Approximately 300 of the crew went down with the ship. The remaining 900 survivors, many without life jackets and only a few lifeboats. Without food or water, the survivors drifted in the shark-infested open sea for four days until spotted and rescued. The rescued crew included Captain Charles B. McVay III.

On July 31, 1945 when Indianapolis failed to reach Leyte, her failure to arrive was not detected and no searches were immediately undertaken. On August 2, 1945 at 10:25am a PV-1 Ventura from VPB-152 piloted by flown by Lt. Wilbur Gwinn and copilot Lt Warren Colwell on a routine patrol flight spotted men in the water and dropped them a life raft and radio. On August 3, 1945 PBY Catalina from Peleliu Airfield spotted and reported the survivors. Afterwards, all available air and surface units were sent to the location to rescue the survivors. By then, only 316 men were still alive.

Court Martial
In November 1945, Captain Charles B. McVay III was court-martialed for failing to zigzag, although he was ordered to "zigzag at his discretion, weather permitting" and Mochitsura Hashimoto, former captain of I-58 testified that zigzaging would not have prevented the sinking. Later, Admiral Nimitz remitted his sentence and returned him to active duty until he retired in 1949 with the rank of Rear Admiral. In 1968 at age 70 he committed suicide. In July 2001, the United States Secretary of the Navy ordered McVay's Navy record cleared of any wrongdoing.

At total of 879 sailors were lost in the sinking. The crew that remain listed as Missing In Action (MIA) are memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the courts of the missing.

The Indiana State Museum includes materials related to Indianapolis. Her commissioning pennant are located at the Heslar Naval Armory. The swim training center at United States Navy Recruit Training Command is named USS Indianapolis.

On August 2, 1985, the USS Indianapolis National Memorial was dedicated on the Canal Walk in Indianapolis, Indiana. In 2007, the USS Indianapolis Museum opened at the Indiana World War Memorial Military Museum. In May 2011, highway I-465 around Indianapolis was named "USS Indianapolis Memorial Highway".

Between 2001–2016 several expeditions unsuccessfully searched for the shipwreck of USS Indianapolis. The first effort between July-August 2001 used side scan sonar. The second effort in June 2005 and was covered by National Geographic. Only pieces of metal were found in the reported sinking, but never confirmed to belong to the ship. This expedition was broadcast in the documentary "Finding of the USS Indianapolis". During July 2016 a new position was located in the records of LST-779 and National Georgraphic planned another effort in the middle of 2017.

On August 18, 2017 the shipwreck was discovered at a depth of 18,000' / 5,500m by the USS Indianapolis Project aboard RV Petrel funded by Paul Allen and the news of the discovery was released days later. During September 2017 a detailed map of the shipwreck was released.

The exact location is kept secret to protect the shipwreck as a war grave. Most of the shipwreck rests in an impact crater on a rocky bottom. Due to the depth, the ship's condition and preservation is excellent with paint visible including the name "Indianapolis".

Before the ship sank, the bow broke off and came to rest 1.5 miles to the east of the main shipwreck. Two 8" guns broke off at the surface sank 1/2 mile east of the main wreckage and was the last surface position before sinking. The wreckage of the floatplanes are .6 miles away having broke free while sinking.

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Men and Women of Bell County in WWII: USS Indianapolis (CA-35)

USS Indianapolis (CA-35)

Seaman 2nd Class Mikeska, Willie Wodrew (8422945). Born 1 Jan 1920 in Bartlett, TX. Son of Joe and Blanche Alexena (Blad) Mikeska. Enlisted in the Navy 2 Oct. 1943. Joined the crew of the USS Indianapolis 21 Dec 1943.

Aviation Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class Meissner, Oscar August (6254451). Born 2 Oct 1921 in Bartlett, TX. Son of August and Mary E (Sturm) Meissner. Married Attie Marie Hensley 10 Jan 1947. Entered Navy 25 Aug 1942. Assigned to USS Indianapolis 19 Apr 1943 as part of the Aviation Unit. Transferred to the Naval Air Technical Training Center, Chicago 25 Nov 1944.

The Taylor Daily Press 19 Aug 1942

Oscar August Meissner died April 27, 2017. He was born in Bartlett on Oct 2, 1921 to Mary and August Meissner. He attended German-English School one mile north of Bartlett and graduated from Bartlett High School in 1940. He worked for James Bailey Chevrolet until joining the Navy in 1942. While in the Navy, he served aboard the USS Indianapolis in the Pacific, achieved the rank of Aviation Machinist Mate First Class and received five Battle Stars. Just prior to the Indianapolis sinking by torpedoes, Oscar was transferred to Chicagoattend an additional aircraft school. Oscar was joined in marriage to Attie Marie (Toots) Hensley in 1947. Returning from the Navy in 1946, Oscar returned to work at James Bailey Chevrolet for 10 months and then Naiver Bros Dodge/Plymouth until 1949 when he opened Oscar’s Motor Clinic & Auto Supply. He retired in 2002. Oscar attended the University of Texas for teacher training, Temple Junior College with an associate degree in Mid-Management and also an associate degree in the Arts and the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor for business law. Oscar was a substitute teacher in Auto Mechanics at Temple Junior College. Oscar was preceded in death by his parents, his wife of 59 years, two children, Mary Sue Meissner and Oscar A Meissner Jr and his daughter Glenda Thornton Fry. Survivors include son-in-law Edward C Fry of Bartlet two grandchildren, one great-grandchild, and one great-great grandchild.

At midnight 30 Jul 1945 the Japanese submarine I-58 (left photo) spotted the Indianapolis on its way to Leyte. Six torpedoes were fired into the Indianapolis, sinking the ship. Approximately 1196 sailors and marines crewed the Indianapolis, of that number only 316 survived their wounds, shark attacks and dehydration. They remained in the water for five days before being spotted by an American plane.

Bring the Bell Up?

Due to the recent discovery of USS Indianapolis resting 18,000 feet at the bottom of the Philippine Sea by billionaire Paul Allen, some people have already called for one particular object to be raised from the depths.

Recent photos released by the submersible visiting Indy’s watery grave show one particularly interesting photograph of a ship’s bell. But it is not THE ship’s bell, which has been on display at the Indiana World War Memorial in Indianapolis.

Should they still bring the bell up?

USS Indianapolis (CA-35) - History

In November and December 1936, USS Indianapolis transported President Franklin D. Roosevelt on his "Good Neighbor" tour of South America. This page features views of and on board the ship during this cruise.

If you want higher resolution reproductions than the Online Library's digital images, see "How to Obtain Photographic Reproductions."

Click on the small photograph to prompt a larger view of the same image .

Leaves Charleston, South Carolina, carrying President Franklin D. Roosevelt on his "Good Neighbor" cruise to South America, 18 November 1936.

Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation, collection of Rear Admiral Paul H. Bastedo, USN.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image: 68KB 740 x 605 pixels

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, U.S. Army and
Captain Ross T. McIntire, USN(MC).

Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation, collection of Rear Admiral Paul H. Bastedo, USN.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image: 62KB 740 x 605 pixels

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.

Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation, collection of Rear Admiral Paul H. Bastedo, USN.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image: 69KB 740 x 610 pixels

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.

Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation, collection of Rear Admiral Paul H. Bastedo, USN.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image: 79KB 740 x 605 pixels

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.

Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation, collection of Rear Admiral Paul H. Bastedo, USN.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image: 67KB 740 x 605 pixels

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.

Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation, collection of Rear Admiral Paul H. Bastedo, USN.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image: 65KB 740 x 610 pixels

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.

Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation, collection of Rear Admiral Paul H. Bastedo, USN.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image: 45KB 740 x 610 pixels

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.

Donation of Captain Fred W. Connor, USMC(Retired), 1970.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image: 112KB 740 x 565 pixels

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.

Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation, collection of Rear Admiral Paul H. Bastedo, USN.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image: 61KB 740 x 610 pixels

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.

Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation, collection of Rear Admiral Paul H. Bastedo, USN.

Watch the video: Academy 1:350 Indianapolis CA-35 Scale Model Build