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Top-secret mission, infamous end…the U.S.S. Indianapolis

Christened in 1929 and commissioned in 1932, the U.S.S. Indianapolis was the pride of the navy. The ship would play a pivotal role in the ending of WWII.

Named for the Circle City, the U.S.S. Indianapolis would play a pivotal role in the ending of WWII. Christened in 1929 and commissioned in 1932, the ship was the pride of the navy.

Because of the ship’s great speed as well as its proximity to Los Alamos, New Mexico–the location of the Manhattan Project– the U.S.S. Indianapolis was selected for a top-secret mission.

In the early hours of July 16, 1945, the Indianapolis was loaded with the necessary components for an atomic bomb, including Uranium-235, the catalyst for the reaction.  The materials would be used in the atomic bombs soon to be dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

After a ten day journey, the Indianapolis unloaded its top secret cargo at Tinian, located about 5,300 nautical miles from California.

Shortly thereafter, the Indianapolis received orders to report to Leyte Gulf for gunnery practice. Because of a garbled transmission, no one knew the Indianapolis was headed to that Pacific destination.

On July 30, the Indianapolis was spotted and fired upon by the Japanese submarine I-58. Sinking minutes later, only 880 of the original 1,197 members of the crew made it into the water, where they would spend three and a half days fighting for their lives.  Only 316 men survived to be rescued on August 4th.

It was only in 2001 that a Congressional bill posthumously cleared Charles B. McVay III, the ship’s captain, of all charges associated with the sinking of the U.S.S Indianapolis.

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