Lead: In the closing days of World War II, the cruiser USS Indianapolis, was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine. Most of the 1100 sailors survived the sinking only to die floating in the open sea.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Once the survivors of the Indianapolis had been rescued from their five day ordeal, the U.S. Navy had a big problem. Critics in the general public, the press, and on Capitol Hill were asking how it was that the Navy could lose a major fighting ship and essentially consign 500 sailors to a watery grave. The criticism could not have come at a worse time. The war, which began with the sneak attack on a naval installation, was about to end amid swirling controversy over the most severe sea disaster in American naval history. To make matters worse the Navy was fighting for its independence. There were forces in the Administration and in Congress who wanted to combine the armed forces into a single Department of Defense. To combat this threat to naval autonomy the Navy did not need to be fending off accusations of negligence.