Wednesday, May 12, 2010
In Harm's Way
Photo Source: http://us.macmillan.com/inharmsway
In Harm's Way
The Sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors
Anyone who has a love for the Sea,Naval interest, or interest in World War II will probably enjoy this 354 page read. I think I consumed it in three evenings.
The Navy cruiser USS Indianapolis CA-35, a Portland-class cruiser of the United States Navy, played a very strategic role in ending the war by transporting the components of the first Atomic Bomb to the island of Tinian on July 26, 1945. The bomb was later dropped on Hiroshima, Japan by the B-29, Eola Gay.
After delivery this highly secret cargo, the Indianapolis was ordered to sail to Leyte Gulf, on the East Coast of the Philippines, to take part in "gunnery practice". Captain Charles Butler McVay III and a crew of 1,197 men began the 1,500 nautical mile journey.
At 12:14 am on July 30, 1945, the Indianapolis was struck by a torpedo which tore away the bow. A second torpedo struck seconds later. An SOS was quickly sent out on a backup radio system as the main radio was destroyed in the damage as was the ship's intercom system. The Captain ordered an abandon ship by word of mouth. The ship sank within 12 minutes according to survivors leaving 880 men suffering from burns to try and survive at Sea.
Because the ships fuel and oil tanks were ruptured in the attack, the survivors were left to swim in a huge oil slick. To make matters worse, the SOS message sent out by the Indianapolis was ignored and the men responsible for keeping track with the ship's arrival in Leyte did not elect to report its lack of arrival.
The surviving 880 men were left to fend for themselves without food or drinking water adrift in the South Pacific with regular attacks by sharks. Five days later, 317 of the original 880 men were able to signal Lieutenant Chuck Gwinn, flying a Lockheed Navy Ventura PV-1 bomber and a rescue effort began.
This book chronicals the story of the Indianapolis during this tragic experience. I found it to be a very good read and hope you do too.