The Real Story Of The USS Indianapolis

Updated on Aug 25, 2017. Originally added on Nov 11, 2016 by Kathy Pinna

On July 30, 1945, after delivering the first working nuclear bomb (called "Little Boy" which was later dropped on Hiroshima) to the U.S. Navy base at Tinian in the Mariana Islands, the USS Indianapolis was torpedoed by the Japanese. She sank in 12 minutes.

While she had a crew of 1,196, only 317 survived the entire ordeal with 300 dying in the sinking. This was the largest loss of life in a single event in the history of the U.S. Navy.

The sinking of the ship was horrifying, but the survival story afterwards was worse...

This is the story of four of those survivors, told in their own words.

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The Real Story Of The USS Indianapolis

The fewer than 900 men who survived the sinking were adrift in the ocean - exposed to dehydration, salt water poisoning, and shark attacks. There were only a few lifeboats (the rest of the men were in the water - some without even lifejackets) and little food and water. And it took four days for the Navy to find out that the ship had been sunk.

While they were in the water for those four days, the sailors suffered from lack of food and water (leading to hypernatremia and dehydration), exposure to the elements (leading to hypothermia and peeling of their skin), the most shark attacks in human history, and the resulting delirium and hallucinations which lead to some committing suicide.

Update: 72 years after it was torpedoed and sank, the wreckage of the USS Indianapolis has been found as of 8/23/2017. Because of the location of the wreck 18,000 feet below the sea surface it is in amazing condition. You can read more about the discovery at the US Naval Institute.

Click "next page" below to read about Desmond Doss, the real life World War II hero.

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