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USS INDIANAPOLIS (CL35)
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from  1933-1935, 110X, USS Indianapolis (CL-35)  album
USS Indianapolis (CA-35) was a Portland-class heavy cruiser of the United States Navy. She holds a place in history due to the notorious circumstances of her loss, which was the worst single at-sea loss of life in the history of the U.S. Navy. After delivering the first atomic bomb to be used in combat to the United States air base at Tinian Island on 26 July 1945, she was in the Philippine Sea when attacked at 00:14 on 30 July 1945 by a Japanese submarine. Most of the crew was lost to shark attacks, as they floated helplessly for several days, waiting for assistance. Indianapolis was the last US Navy ship sunk by enemy action in World War II. Indianapolis was laid down on 31 March 1930 by the New York Shipbuilding Corp., Camden, New Jersey; launched on 7 November 1931; sponsored by Miss Lucy Taggart, daughter of the late Senator Thomas Taggart, a former mayor of Indianapolis; and commissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 15 November 1932, Captain John M. Smeallie in command. Following shakedown in the Atlantic and Guantanamo Bay until 23 February 1932, Indianapolis trained in the Panama Canal Zone and in Pacific off the Chilean coast. After overhaul at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, the heavy cruiser sailed to Maine to embark President Roosevelt at Campobello Island, in the Canadian province of New Brunswick, on 1 July 1933. Getting underway the same day, Indianapolis arrived at Annapolis two days later where she entertained six members of the cabinet. After disembarking the President, she departed Annapolis on 4 July 1933, and returned to the Philadelphia Navy Yard. USS Indianapolis at Pearl Harbor in 1937 USS Indianapolis at Pearl Harbor in 1937 On 6 September 1933, Secretary of the Navy Claude A. Swanson broke his flag in Indianapolis for an inspection tour of the Pacific, visiting the Canal Zone, Hawaii, and the fleet in the San Pedro-San Diego area. He debarked at San Diego 27 October, and Indianapolis became flagship of the Scouting Force on 1 November 1933. Following maneuvers off the West Coast, she departed Long Beach, California on 9 April 1934 and arrived New York City on 29 May 1934. There she again embarked the President and his party for a review of the Fleet. She arrived at Long Beach on 9 November 1934 for tactical war problems with the Scouting Fleet. Indianapolis acted as flagship for the remainder of her peacetime career, and again welcomed President Roosevelt at Charleston, South Carolina, on 18 November 1936 for a "Good-Neighbor" cruise to South America. After carrying President Roosevelt to Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, and Montevideo for state visits, she returned to Charleston on 15 December where the presidential party left the ship. Service during World War II Indianapolis was making a simulated bombardment of Johnston Island when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. She immediately joined Task Force 12 and searched for Japanese carriers reportedly still in the vicinity. She arrived at Pearl Harbor on 13 December 1941 and joined Task Force 1 South Pacific Her first action came in the South Pacific, deep in Japanese-dominated waters about 350 miles (563 km) south of Rabaul, New Britain. Late in the afternoon of on 20 February 1942, the American ships were attacked by 18 twin-engined bombers, flying in 2 waves. In the battle that followed, 16 of the planes were shot down by accurate anti-aircraft fire of the ships and fighter planes from Lexington. All ships escaped damage and they also shot down two trailing Japanese seaplanes. On 10 March 1942 the Task Force, reinforced by the carrier Yorktown, attacked enemy ports at Lae and Salamaua, New Guinea, where the Japanese were marshaling amphibious forces. Carrier-based planes achieved complete surprise by flying in from the south, crossing the high Owen Stanley mountain range, and swooping in to strike Japanese harbor shipping. As they inflicted heavy damage on Japanese warships and transports, the American fliers shot down many Japanese planes which rose to protect the ports. American losses were light. Closeup view of her well deck area, from the port side, at the Mare Island Navy Yard, on 19 April 1942, following overhaul Closeup view of her well deck area, from the port side, at the Mare Island Navy Yard, on 19 April 1942, following overhaul Indianapolis then returned to the United States for overhaul and alterations in the Mare Island Navy Yard. Following the refit, Indianapolis escorted a convoy to Australia, then headed for the North Pacific where Japanese landings in the Aleutian Islands had created a precarious situation. The weather along this barren chain of islands is noted for continuous coldness; persistent and unpredictable fogs; constant rain, snow, and sleet; and sudden storms with violent winds and heavy seas. Kiska and Attu By 7 August 1942, the task force to which Indianapolis was attached finally found an opening in the thick fog which hid the Japanese stronghold at Kiska Island, and imperiled ships in the treacherous and partially uncharted nearby coasts. Indianapolis's 8 inch (200 mm) guns opened up along with those of the other ships. Although fog hindered observation, scout planes flown from the cruisers reported seeing ships sinking in the harbor and fires burning among shore installations. So complete was the tactical surprise that it was 15 minutes before shore batteries began to answer; and some of them fired into the air, believing they were being bombed. Most of them were silenced by accurate gunnery from the ships. Japanese submarines then appeared but were promptly depth-charged by American destroyers. Japanese seaplanes also made an ineffective bombing attack. The operation was considered a success despite the scanty information on its results. It also demonstrated the necessity of obtaining bases nearer the Japanese-held islands. Consequently, U.S. forces occupied the island of Adak later in the month, providing a base suitable for surface craft and planes further along the island chain from Dutch Harbor on Unalaska Island. In January 1943, Indianapolis supported the occupation of Amchitka, which gave the Allies another base in the Aleutians. On the night of 19 February 1943, while Indianapolis and two destroyers patrolled southwest of Attu, hoping to intercept enemy ships running reinforcements and supplies into Kiska and Attu, she contacted a Japanese cargo ship, Akagane Maru. The cargo ship tried to make a reply to the challenge but was shelled by Indianapolis. Akagane Maru exploded with great force and left no survivors; she was presumably laden with ammunition. Throughout the spring and summer of 1943, Indianapolis operated in Aleutian waters escorting American convoys and covering amphibious assaults. In May the Allies captured Attu, the first territory occupied by the Japanese to be reconquered by the United States. After Attu was secure, the U.S. forces focused their attention on Kiska, the last enemy stronghold in the Aleutians. However, the Japanese managed to evacuate their entire garrison under cover of persistent, thick fog before the Allied landings there on 15 August. Flagship of the 5th Fleet After refitting at Mare Island, Indianapolis moved to Hawaii where she became the flagship of Vice Admiral Raymond A. Spruance commanding the U.S. 5th Fleet. She sortied from Pearl Harbor on 10 November 1943 with the main body of the Southern Attack Force of the Assault Force for Operation Galvanic, the invasion of the Gilbert Islands. On 19 November 1943, Indianapolis, in a force of cruisers bombarded Tarawa Atoll and next day pounded Makin (see Battle of Makin). The ship then returned to Tarawa and acted as a fire-support ship for the landings. That day her guns shot down an enemy plane and shelled enemy strong points as landing parties struggled against Japanese defenders in the bloody and costly battle of Tarawa. She continued this role until the leveled island was declared secure 3 days later. The conquest of the Marshall Islands followed hard on victory in the Gilberts. Indianapolis was again 5th Fleet Flagship. She rendezvoused with other ships of her task force at Tarawa, and on D-Day minus 1, 31 January 1944, she was a unit of the cruiser group which bombarded the islands of Kwajalein Atoll. The shelling continued on D-Day with Indianapolis silencing two enemy shore batteries. Next day she obliterated a blockhouse and other shore installations and supported advancing troops with a creeping barrage. The ship entered Kwajalein Lagoon 4 February and remained until all resistance disappeared. (See Battle of Kwajalein.) USS Indianapolis painted in pattern camouflage at a Pacific base in 1944 USS Indianapolis painted in pattern camouflage at a Pacific base in 1944 During March and April of 1944, Indianapolis, still flagship of the 5th Fleet, attacked the Western Carolines. Carrier planes struck at the Palau Islands on 30 March and 31 March with shipping as their primary target. They sank 3 destroyers, 17 freighters, 5 oilers and damaged 17 other ships. In addition, airfields were bombed and surrounding waters mined to immobilize enemy ships. Yap and Ulithi were struck on the 31st and Woleai on 1 April. During these 3 days, Japanese planes attacked the U.S. fleet but were driven off without damaging the American ships. Indianapolis shot down her second plane, a torpedo bomber, and the Japanese lost 160 planes in all, including 46 destroyed on the ground. These attacks successfully prevented Japanese forces from the Carolines from interfering with the U.S. landings on New Guinea. During June 1944, the 5th Fleet was busy with 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. (See Battle of Saipan.) 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 19 June 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 about 400 Japanese planes while losing only 17. Indianapolis, which had operated with the force which struck Iwo Jima and Chichi Jima, shot down one torpedo plane. This day of aerial combat became known throughout the fleet as the "Marianas Turkey Shoot". With Japanese air opposition wiped out, the U.S. carrier planes pursued and sank a carrier (Hiyō), two destroyers, and one tanker and inflicted severe damage on other ships. Two other carriers, (Taihō and Shōkaku), were sunk by a submarines. Indianapolis returned to Saipan on 23 June to resume fire support there and 6 days later moved to Tinian to smash shore installations (see Battle of Tinian). 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 Mariana Islands for the next few weeks, then moved to the Western Carolines where further landings were planned. From 12 September to 29 September she bombarded the Island of Peleliu in the Palau Group, both before and after the landings (see Battle of Peleliu). She then sailed to Manus in the Admiralty Islands where she operated for 10 days before returning to the Mare Island Navy Yard. Iwo Jima Overhauled, Indianapolis joined Vice Admiral Marc A. Mitscher's fast carrier task force on 14 February 1945, two days before it made an attack on Tokyo?the first since the Doolittle Raid in April 1942. The operation covered American landings on Iwo Jima, scheduled for 19 February 1945, by destroying Japanese air facilities and other installations in the "Home Islands". Complete tactical surprise was achieved by approaching the Japanese coast under cover of bad weather, and attacks were pressed home for 2 days. On 16 February and 17 February, the American Navy lost 49 carrier planes while shooting down or destroying on the ground 499 enemy planes. Besides this 10-to-l edge in aircraft victories, Mitscher's Force sank a carrier, 9 coastal ships, a destroyer, 2 destroyer escorts, and a cargo ship. Moreover, they wrecked hangars, shops, aircraft installations, factories, and other industrial targets. Throughout the action, Indianapolis played her vital role of support ship. Immediately after the strikes, the Task Force raced to the Bonins to support the landings on Iwo Jima. The ship remained there until 1 March, protecting the invasion ships and training her guns on any targets spotted on the beach. The ship returned to Admiral Mitscher's Task Force in time to strike Tokyo again on 25 February and Hachijo off the southern coast of Honshū the following day. Although weather was extremely bad, the American force destroyed 158 planes and sank 5 small ships while pounding ground installations and demolishing trains. Okinawa A large base close to the home islands was needed to press the attack, and Okinawa in the Ryūkyūs seemed ideal for the part. To capture it with minimum losses, airfields in southern Japan had to be pounded until they were incapable of launching effective airborne opposition to the impending invasion. Indianapolis, with the fast carrier force, departed Ulithi on 14 March 1945, and proceeded toward the Japanese coast. On 18 March, from a position 100 miles (160 km) southeast of Kyūshū, the flat-tops launched strikes against airfields on the island, ships of the Japanese fleet in the harbors of Kobe and Kure on southern Honshu. After locating the American Task Force 21 March, Japan sent 48 planes to attack the ships, but 24 planes from the carriers intercepted the enemy aircraft some 60 miles (97 km) away. By the end of the battle, every plane in the Japanese attack force had been destroyed. Preinvasion bombardment of Okinawa began on 24 March and for seven days Indianapolis poured 8 inch (200 mm) shells into the beach defenses. Meanwhile, enemy aircraft repeatedly attacked the ships; and Indianapolis shot down six planes and assisted in the destruction of two others. On 31 March, the day before the invasion, the ship's sky lookouts spotted a Japanese single-engined fighter plane as it emerged from the morning twilight and roared at the bridge in a vertical dive. The ship's 20 mm guns opened fire, but less than 15 seconds after it was spotted the plane was over the ship. Tracer shells crashed into the plane, causing it to swerve; but the enemy pilot managed to release his bomb from a height of 25 ft (7.6 m) and crash his plane on the port side of the after main deck. The plane toppled into the sea, causing little damage; but the bomb plummeted through the deck armor, the crew's mess hall, the berthing compartment below, and the fuel tanks still lower before crashing through the bottom of the ship and exploding in the water under the ship. The concussion blew two gaping holes in the ship bottom and flooded compartments in the area, killing nine crewmen. Although Indianapolis settled slightly by the stern and listed to port, there was no progressive flooding; and the cruiser steamed to a salvage ship for emergency repairs. Here, inspection revealed that her propeller shafts were damaged, her fuel tanks ruptured, her water-distilling equipment ruined; nevertheless, the cruiser made the long trip across the Pacific to the Mare Island Navy Yard under her own power. Indianapolis earned 10 battle stars for World War II service. Loss of the Indianapolis A secret mission, and destruction Indianapolis' intended route from Guam to the Philippines Indianapolis' intended route from Guam to the Philippines After repairs and overhaul, Indianapolis received orders to proceed at high speed to Tinian, carrying the component parts and uranium projectile of the atomic bomb "Little Boy" which was soon to be dropped on Hiroshima. Due to the urgency of her mission, Indianapolis departed San Francisco on July 16, foregoing her postrepair shakedown period. Touching at Pearl Harbor July 19, she raced on unescorted and arrived in Tinian on July 26, having set a record in covering some 5,000 miles (8,000 km) from San Francisco in only 10 days. After delivering her top secret cargo at Tinian, Indianapolis was dispatched to Guam where she disembarked men. From Guam she set course to Leyte. From there she was to report to Vice Admiral Jesse B. Oldendorf for further duty off Okinawa. Departing Guam on July 28, Indianapolis proceeded by a direct route, unescorted. Early in the morning, at 00:11 on July 30, 1945, two heavy explosions (some say three)occurred against her starboard side forward, and she capsized and sank in twelve minutes, at 12?2′ N, 134?48′ E. Indianapolis had been hit by two torpedoes from the Japanese submarine I-58, Commander Mochitsura Hashimoto in command. Survivors of the USS Indianapolis on Guam, in August 1945 Survivors of the USS Indianapolis on Guam, in August 1945 Delayed rescue: Five days of horror in the water About 300 of the 1,196 men on board died in the attack. The rest of the crew, nearly 900 men, floated in the water without lifeboats until the rescue was completed five days later. Only 321 crew came out of the water alive, though 317 ultimately lived. They suffered from lack of food and water, exposure to the elements, severe desquamation, and shark attacks. The oceanic whitetip shark was the main species involved in the attacks; however, tiger sharks were also described by survivors. Immediately prior to the attack, the seas had been moderate; the visibility good; Indianapolis had been steaming at 17 knots (31 km/h). When the ship did not reach Leyte on the 31st, as scheduled, no report was made that she was overdue. This omission was due to a misunderstanding of the Movement Report System. Thus it was not until 10:25 on August 2 that the survivors were accidentally sighted by pilot Lieutenant Wilber (Chuck) Gwinn and copilot Lieutenant Warren Colwell on a routine patrol flight. The survivors were mostly held afloat by life jackets, although there were a few rafts which had been cut loose before the ship went down. Gwinn immediately dropped a life raft and a radio transmitter. All air and surface units capable of rescue operations were dispatched to the scene at once. Future U.S. Secretary of the Navy W. Graham Claytor Jr. was commander of the destroyer escort Cecil J. Doyle. After receiving the location from the seaplane, Captain Claytor sped without orders to check the reports of men floating in the water. As he approached at night, he turned searchlights on the water and straight up on low clouds, lighting up the night and exposing his ship to possible attack by Japanese submarines but rescuing almost 100 survivors of the sunken cruiser. Captain Claytor ordered his Communications Officer Lieutenant James A. Fite, Jr. to inform command that they were rescuing the crew of Indianapolis; this was the first definitive message of the Indianapolis's fate. Destroyers Helm, Madison and Ralph Talbot were ordered from Ulithi, and the destroyer escort Dufilho with attack transports Bassett and Ringness from the Philippine Frontier to the rescue scene, searching thoroughly for any survivors. Upon completion of rescue operations, August 8, a radius of 100 miles (160 km) had been combed by day and by night, saving 317 of the crew of 1,196 men.
posted By Bulkeley, John Duncan, VADM
Nov 24, 2011
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