|Ship Class||Portland-class Heavy Cruiser|
|Builder||New York Shipbuilding Corporation, Camden, New Jersey, United States|
|Laid Down||31 Mar 1930|
|Launched||7 Nov 1931|
|Commissioned||15 Nov 1932|
|Sunk||30 Jul 1945|
|Displacement||9,950 tons standard|
|Machinery||Geared turbines with four screws|
|Power Output||107,000 shaft horsepower|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseIndianapolis was commissioned during the peaceful interwar years, patrolling the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. She was Franklin Roosevelt's personal transport on several occasions, including a trip to South America in Nov-Dec 1936. She enjoyed various flagship status for the bulk of her peacetime career. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, she was conducting a bombardment training off Johnston Island. She was sent on a hunt for the withdrawing Japanese carrier force, but failed to locate it.
ww2dbaseIndianapolis operated with carrier task forces in the Pacific during WW2 until 1942, then she was transferred to Alaska. In Jan 1943 she participated in the operation to occupy Amchitka and establish a forward base in the north Pacific; in this operation, on 19 Feb 1943, she came in contact with the Japanese transport Akagane Maru, and sank the ship. She later assisted in the operations to reclaim Attu and Kiska.
ww2dbaseAfter a refitting at Mare Island, Indianapolis was transferred to Hawaii where she was boarded by Vice Admiral Raymond Spruance, becoming the flagship of the Fifth Fleet. In this role, she was a part of the main assault force during the Gilberts operations. She also participated in virtually every operation across the Pacific toward Japan, including the credit of downing Japanese planes during the "Great Turkey Shoot" off the Marianas and being the first ship to enter the Apra Harbor at Guam since being conquered by the Japanese in Dec 1941. Her 8" guns were also vital in preparation for the famed landing operations at Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
ww2dbaseShe was in port in San Francisco in mid-1945 for repairs from a 31 Mar 1945 kamikaze attack. It was because of this coincidental availability, she was chosen as the transport to deliver the first atomic bomb to Tinian, stepping up her repairs. Her hurried trip from San Francisco to Tinian broke the record for the shortest travel time between the two points (taking only ten days for the trip). After delivering the components to the atomic bomb on 26 Jul 1945, which included its radioactive core, she was sent toward Leyte for training missions (many of the Indianapolis' crew were inexperienced). About halfway between Tinian (Mariana Islands) and Leyte (Philippine Islands), she was spotted by Japanese submarine I-58 and sunk with two torpedo hits at the night of 30 Jul 1945. Survivors floated for days before it was realized that the ship was lost. Out of the crew of nine hundred who survived the sinking, only 316 survived the following days floating in the shark-infested Pacific waters with negligible food and no water. It was the worse loss of life in the history of the United States Navy. The destroyer Helm, one of the ships that tasked with retrieving the bodies of those who did not survive the ocean, logged the following notes on the rescue operation:
ww2dbaseIndianapolis' commander, Captain Charles Butler McVay III, was the only man in American naval history to be court martialed for losing a ship during wartime. He was convicted of "hazarding his ship by failing to zigzag", a practice that was detailed in American naval doctrine as a guard against submarine attacks (though known to be ineffective by both Japanese and American submarine commanders). McVay was exonerated in Oct 2000.
ww2dbaseSources: In Harm's Way, Naval Historical Center, Wikipedia.
Last Major Revision: Aug 2005
Heavy Cruiser Indianapolis (CA-35) Interactive Map
Indianapolis Operational Timeline
|15 Nov 1932||Indianapolis was commissioned into service.|
|18 Dec 1941||American cruiser Indianapolis returned to Pearl Harbor after failing to find the Japanese carrier fleet.|
|20 Feb 1942||A Japanese H6K flying boat piloted by Lieutenant (jg) Noboru Sakai spotted a US carrier force 460 miles northeast of New Britain; US pilot Jimmy Thatch of Fighting Squadron 3 (VF-3) flying from USS Lexington shot down Sakai's aircraft at 1112 hours, but not before Sakai had alerted others. At 1202 hours, Burt Stanley and Leon Haynes, also of VF-3, shot down another H6K aircraft flown by Warrant Officer Kiyoshi Hayashi north of Lexington. At 1420 hours, 17 Type 1 bombers of Japanese 4th Air Group, led by Lieutenant Masayoshi Nakagawa, were launched from Rabaul, with the first wave reaching Lexington at 1625 hours. The first wave of 9 bombers were all shot down without causing any damage to Lexington (Nakagawa tried to crash into Lexington as he fell from the sky, but fell short by less than 1 mile). US Navy Lieutenant Albert Vorse of VF-3 shot down one of these bombers for his first aerial kill. The second wave attacked USS Lexington and USS Minneapolis at 1705 hours, still causing no damage; Edward "Butch" O'Hare shot down 3 and damaged 4 Japanese bombers. Only 2 Japanese bombers arrived back at Rabaul at the end of the day; 100 Japanese bomber crewmen were lost during the attacks, and Japan also lost 20 men with the H6K reconnaissance flights earlier in the morning. O'Hare was given credit for 5 kills, making him an "Ace in a Day" and leading to him being awarded the Medal of Honor. With the element of surprise lost, Lexington broke off her intended raid on Rabaul. Because of the loss of so many bombers, the Japanese delayed their plans to invade Lae, New Guinea.|
|4 Oct 1942||USS Nashville and USS Bailey joined with USS Indianapolis, USS St. Louis, USS Case, and USS Bancroft 125 miles northeast of Adak Island.|
|16 Jul 1945||The cruiser USS Indianapolis sailed from San Francisco, California, United States with a top secret cargo - components of the atomic bomb to be dropped on Hiroshima unless the Japanese surrendered. The Indianapolis would take 10 days to sail to the island of Tinian, Mariana Islands where US B-29 bombers were waiting.|
|26 Jul 1945||USS Indianapolis delivered components of the atomic bomb "Little Boy" to Tinian, Mariana Islands.|
|29 Jul 1945||Japanese submarine I-58 sank cruiser USS Indianapolis with two hits from Type 95 torpedoes; USS Indianapolis' prior order to maintain radio silence resulted in a 2-day delay in realizing she was lost.|
|2 Aug 1945||A number of survivors of cruiser USS Indianapolis, which was sunk 4 days prior, were found.|
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Visitor Submitted Comments
21 Dec 2008 02:02:32 AM
Where could I see photos of the survivors in re-unions or sometime afterward?
6 Nov 2009 11:35:47 PM
You will not believe this, but I can tell you where the USS Indianapolis is.
20 Nov 2010 12:39:38 PM
the last i heard was a documentary about a year or so ago on one of the history channels. several of the serviers went with a reaserct team to try to locate the final resting place but were not sucessful. I have not seen or heard anything more. I too would likt to know more about this.
11 Feb 2011 03:55:17 PM
Look up a book....Left For Dead,great book about the Indianapolis ) hope i was of some help
18 Mar 2013 04:45:59 PM
The USS Indianapolis means a lot to me. It played a big part in helping to end that war that I was born into!
15 Aug 2013 07:08:46 AM
Letter of interest on the sighting of the Indy.
9 Sep 2013 06:42:57 PM
W W I I 9 Bronze Stars for the Pacific
2 Stars for the Battle of the Phillippen
1 Medal from that Government
10 Sep 2013 02:52:16 PM
Indianoplis had 10
Bronze Stars,you do not get Stars for assisted
Campaigns only for Battles, It had 2 Iwo Jima
and Okinawa. I was at Iwo Jima.
10 Sep 2013 04:01:56 PM
Most sources agree; Indianapolis received 10 battle stars in WWII:
1. P5-2&5 Bougainville and Salamaua-Lae Raids, Feb-Mar 1942
2. P20 Aleutians Operations, Mar 1943
3. P25 Gilbert Islands Operations, Nov 1943
4. P26-2&3 Marshall Islands Operations: Kwajalein,
Majuro & Eniwetok, Jan-Feb 1944
5. P27-3 Asiatic-Pacific Raids:Yap, Palau, Ulithi & Woleai,
6. P29-1,2&7 Marianas Operations: Battle of the Philippine Sea,
Saipan, & Guam, Jun-Aug 1944
7. P38 Tinian, Jul 1944
8. P30 Western Caroline Operations, Sep 1944
9. P33-1&2 Iwo Jima & Japanese Home Islands Raids on
Honshu & Nansei Shoto, Feb 1945
10. P34 Okinawa Gunto Operations, Mar 1945
For the complete Navy list of qualifying engagements, see http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USN/ships/dafs/BattleStars.html#partIII
11 Sep 2013 06:14:55 PM
Hi, David Mr Chen's story and yours do not match.Your are telling me one thing and he is saying some thing else. I have 8 Bronze Stars
Short one Marshall Islands I was not aboard the
Bronson,my first one was the Battle of Siapan
I was on the look out when they raised the
Flag on Iwo Jima. I may get the 9th one for re-
capture of Midway.Are ship made a sollow run
on Japan to Northen Honcho,then came home for
re-pairs at Mar Island, Calif. If I made a mis-
take I apologize on the Indianapolis it was
a great ship.When it got hit are ship was at Guam
with the fleet from re-pairs when President
Truman said the war is over.Thanks to all the men
and women served in W W I I, I have the American
Flag hanging in front of the House.
2 Mar 2015 02:58:16 PM
Does anyone know where (or if) online ship rosters for the Indianapolis can be found for crew members 1943 and/or 1944?
2 Mar 2015 06:48:44 PM
To Anonymous Comment #12:
US Navy WWII Muster Rolls are available online at Fold3.com but it is important to keep two things in mind about that. First, Muster Rolls were created monthly but only accounted for members of the enlisted crew. Officers were also accounted for monthly but in the Deck Logs, an entirely different set of documents that are not available online so far as I know. Secondly, Fold3.com is a subscription site that will require payment to access the Muster Rolls. If either of these documents is available elsewhere online, I am not aware of it.
However, both the Muster Rolls and the Deck Logs are available in hardcopy from the National Archives (archives.gov) either free of charge or for a nominal copying fee. Unfortunately, obtaining records from the Archives is not a swift process, certainly as compared to the internet, but it is reliable.
13 May 2015 09:34:42 PM
The first to spot the Indianapolis survivors in the water was LT-jg Wilbur Gwinn on 2 Aug 1945 flying a PV-1 Ventura with VPB-152 out of Peleliu (unknown aircraft BuNo). The first PBY Catalina to land among the survivors was piloted by Lt Adrian Marks of VPB-23 also out of Peleliu (PBY-5A BuNo 46472). This plane landed on the water but did not take off again, instead it was scuttled the following day. The first surface vessel to arrive (night of 2 Aug 1945) was USS Cecil J. Doyle (DD-368) commanded by LCdr W. Graham Clayton (later Secretary of the Navy and Deputy Secretary of Defense).
14 Aug 2015 10:35:41 AM
The core was most likely delivered on another ship named the USS ALCOR. For reason right now I cannot mention, the background on some of those denotes this. Also the hidden in plain sight identification without the need of communication used by the Black Chamber also indicates a dual safety of fear of any form of loss, detonation and security.
14 Aug 2015 07:55:57 PM
Mr. McLucas (Comment #15):
I gather the â€ścoreâ€ť you mentioned refers to the core for the atomic bomb. I am not sure when the Alcor could have done this. According to the shipâ€™s War Diary, it never got anywhere near the Marianas at any time from 1 May 1945 to after both bombs had dropped.
14 Aug 2015 09:26:54 PM
Look at its history, placement, ships it repaired and came in contact with within the envelope. It was much slower than the Indy so it left earlier or some form to meet the gadget on time. We only had enough enriched material for two or three ordinances. Splitting the load was very very possible.If it was carrying what I suspect, it was handed off in route to and with a specialist with baggage. I would search the logs for an officer transfer. I don't think everything was in naval logs although the ships logs were most likely very accurate, there were very bad feelings about the gadget being used at all as a ordinance. Look what happened to McVay after. I may be wrong but what my hypothesis steers me to is to the ALCOR. Please prove me wrong, I need the input. Thanks.
25 Jan 2016 11:12:43 PM
Jaws film brought me here
4 Mar 2016 04:53:38 AM
What was the actual crew number for this ship? It says 621 in the specifications at the top of the page, but says 900 in the fourth paragraph. Whic is correct?
11 Nov 2017 11:32:51 AM
i want to know the crew list of ship in 1943
21 Sep 2019 03:15:18 PM
I want to know the crew list of the ship in Dec. 1941. I believe my father was gunners mate on board.
21 Sep 2019 08:46:49 PM
Bruce Austin (above):
The crew lists you speak of are called Muster Rolls by the Navy. They are stored at the National Archives or they are available online at Fold3.com. In checking the online Muster Rolls, I find Kenneth Roger Austin, service number 328 60 63, was listed in Indianapolisâ€™ Dec 1941 Muster Rolls and was indeed a Gunners Mate (3rd class). Other Muster Rolls show that he transferred off Indianapolis in mid-1942 and then served aboard sub-chasers. The best way to learn about his time in the Navy is to get a copy of his service record. See https://ww2db.com/faq/#3.
19 Jan 2021 02:34:24 PM
I believe my uncle was onboard on that ship. how can i get a list of names
19 Jan 2021 02:58:24 PM
Efrain Ayala (above):
The list of names you ask about are called Muster Rolls and they can be viewed at the website Fold3.com.
All visitor submitted comments are opinions of those making the submissions and do not reflect views of WW2DB.
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20 Nov 2007 01:03:56 AM
I have been asking and looking on the web for the final resting place of this mighty ship. Has it been found? and is their pictures of it?I had an uncle in world war 2.He was on two destroyers that was shot out from under him.How can I find his ships and history of ww2.