Voyage of Death III (USS Indianapolis)

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.

 

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Voyage of Death II (USS Indianapolis)

Lead: Having delivered components of the first atomic bomb to Tinian Island in the Pacific, the cruiser, USS Indianapolis, sailed west to its duty station near the Philippines. Its sinking by a Japanese submarine began the worst sea disaster in American naval history.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: After leaving Tinian, Captain Charles B. McVay, III, made a refueling stop at Guam before embarking on the final stage of the voyage. In the normal course of departing the port, McVay was not told that four Japanese submarines had been sighted in the area through which he must sail and that the destroyer USS Underhill had been sunk in an encounter with a sub in the same area. Also, General orders insisted that ships ziz-zag in war zones but since that maneuver on occasion might be more dangerous than speedy transit in a straight line, McVay and other commanders were given the option that if the weather were overcast or stormy they could choose not to execute the time consuming process of ziz-zagging.

 

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