Essay Example on The USS Indianapolis began its story in the warm summer breeze

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The USS Indianapolis began its story in the warm summer breeze of July 1945 During that time the heavy cruiser was having crucial repairs in San Francisco Bay Under the command of Captain Charles Butler McVay the III The battleship had sustained damage from a Japanese Kamikaze near Okinawa in March 31st the bomber had killed 9 people in the stern of the ship Before coming home Unexpectedly McVay had been given orders in July to immediately assemble his crew and prepare to sail to a island near the Japanese mainland On board the USS Indianapolis was a top secret cargo The parts for the atomic bombs to be dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki later that summer Codenamed the Manhattan project Neither McVay and his crew knew the importance of the cargo they have escorted they only knew that their mission was top secret the battleship had its own guards in the marine core that only job was to protect the secret cargo and two Army officers whose job specialization was secret weapons On July 26 1945 the ship delivered its mysterious cargo to Tinian a island near the Japanese mainland In just 6 hours the USS Indianapolis was on its way to Back the port of Guam and then set sail to the Philippines 



The ship was to travel unescorted without a destroyer escort that specialized in seeking out enemy submarines McVay accepted his orders after being told that the Navy considered his route safe Although a few days before a Navy ship had been sunk in nearby waters by a manned suicide torpedo called a kaiten launched by a submarine Navy intelligence had learned that there was a group of submarines operating in nearby waters Neither of these important parts of information was given to McVay was ordered to zigzag the reason for this was that a moving target is much harder to hit Due to bad weather McVay ceased to zigzag until better weather The enemy sub that later sunk the Indianapolis was called the I 58 under the command of Lt Cdr Hashimoto had never sank a enemy ship in the entire war which was bad luck An imperial navy sonar operator had heard something dishes clanking Lt Cdr Hashimoto then got on the periscope but could not see anything but a dot so the enemy sub began to track the ship Some of the fog began to clear up Hashimoto could now see a triangle enough to make a target Hashimoto fired The USS indianapolis was only at sea for a few days when two torpedoes slammed into the ship s starboard side

The first torpedo made a 60 foot hole and the 2nd torpedo made a 40 foot hole water began filling in the ship by the tons In just twelve minutes the cruiser had been swallowed into the ocean while tossing almost nine hundred young crewmen into the open sea The remaining three hundred members of the crew were killed by the torpedo explosion or trapped and unable to escape the sinking ship Stanton the author describes the sinking from the perspective of the survivors The boys watched with horrified fascination as the ship finally stood straight on end and paused trembling the stern pointed directly at the sky then began to sink slowly at first then picking up speed drawn suddenly into the deep by the nose For the boys as Stanton refers to them who made it to the water the ordeal had scarcely begun Many of the boys had been sleeping at the time of the attack and were either naked or clothed only in underwear In addition the speed with which the ship sank made it impossible to gather provisions or to properly launch lifeboats and rafts Indeed many boys found themselves in the water without even a life vest 



They had been able to get off a quick SOS before sinking and all believed including McVay that the ship would be quickly missed when it failed to arrive in Leyte They firmly believed that a rescue mission would be launched swiftly Navy command did not know about the ship s sinking until survivors were spotted three and a half days later At 10 25 on 2 August a PV 1 Ventura a medium bomber flown by Lieutenant Wilbur Gwinn and copilot LT Warren Colwell spotted the men adrift while on a routine patrol flight All air and surface units capable of rescue operations were dispatched to the scene at once The crew survivors suffered from lack of food and water leading to dehydration and hypernatremia some found rations such as Spam and crackers amongst the debris exposure to the elements leading to hypothermia and severe desquamation and shark attacks while some killed themselves or other survivors in various states of delirium and hallucinations Of the 1 196 crew only 317 had survived



 This had been the biggest tragedy of the navy in WWII Captain Charles B McVay III who had commanded Indianapolis since November 1944 survived the sinking and was among those rescued days later In November 1945 he was court martialed and convicted of hazarding his ship by failing to zigzag Several things about the court martial were controversial Mochitsura Hashimoto commander of I 58 testified that zigzagging would have made no difference McVay was the only captain to be court martialed in WW2 Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz remitted McVay s sentence and restored him to active duty McVay retired in 1949 as a rear admiral In 1968 with the guilt of having so many deaths on the Captains shoulders he could not bare it At 70 years old McVay had committed suicide with his navy issued revolver in one hand and a toy sailor given to him by his father In 1996 McVay s record had been cleared for exoneration of the loss of the Indy In 2001 McVay had been cleared of all wrong doings


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