The loss of USS Indianapolis (CA-35) in the first hour of 30 July 1945 left approximately 800 Sailors and Marines out of a crew of 1,196 adrift—most with only a life jacket or floater net. The rapid sinking of the ship, and critical damage to communication systems, prevented the sending of a distress signal. These circumstances, coupled with misunderstandings of protocol for reporting the non-arrivals of ships, delayed the rescue of Indianapolis survivors until 2-3 August. After four to five days spent in the water awaiting rescue, only 316 survived. Many of the casualties resulted from dehydration and overexposure.
Historians at the Naval History and Heritage Command have revisited archival records relating to the 30 July 1945 sinking of Indianapolis, the rescue operations, and the court martial of her captain, Charles B. McVay, III in an attempt to learn more about the tragedy and to make historical records of the sinking more readily available to the Navy community and the public. In the process of preparing the pages that follow, historians at NHHC have discovered new information regarding the location of Indianapolis along her route on her final day.
Visitors will find copies of original documents, with transcriptions when applicable, in the following sections. Please note that transcriptions were kept as closely to the original text as possible and some typographical errors are present. The primary source material was collected from the Washington Navy Yard Archives, the Navy Department Library, the Navy Bureau of Medicine, the National Archives at College Park, MD, and the Military History Research Center, National Institute for Defense Studies, Tokyo, Japan. All material is unclassified and open to the public.