Adm. Mike Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) issued a message to the fleet asking that a moment of silence be observed on Wednesday, July 29 between 11:03 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. EDT to honor the 75th anniversary of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis (CA 35).
The heavy cruiser was conducting a solo transit of the Phillipine Sea on July 30, 1945 when it was struck by two Japanese torpedoes three minutes after midnight. Within 12 short minutes, the ship went down, despite the crew’s best efforts to save her.
That night 900 members of the 1195-member crew were able to escape, although tragically, only 316 ship’s crew were rescued.
The USS Indianapolis had completed a top-secret high-speed trip to deliver parts of Little Boy, the first nuclear weapon ever used in combat, to the United States Army Air Force Base on the island of Tinian. The ship headed for the Philippines for training duty when it was struck by the Japanese Navy submarine I-58.
The sailors that did escape the ship faced exposure, dehydration, salt water poisoning and shark attacks. They were stranded on the open ocean with almost no food or water. When the ship was hit, it lost all ability to communicate. It took four days for the Navy to discover that the ship had sunk.
“One thing is certain: those brave Sailors and Marines endured impossible hardships by banding together. And we must do the same today,” said Gilday.
Survivors were spotted by the crew of a PV-1 Ventura on routine patrol. The sinking of the Indianapolis was the greatest single loss of life at sea from a single ship in the history of the U.S. Navy.
For the first time ever, The USS Indianapolis (CA 35) Legacy Organization and the USS Indianapolis (CA 35) Survivors Organization have teamed up to have an Online Virtual Reunion taking place on the anniversary of the sinking, July 30th to August 1st.
They are teaming up with media professionals to provide free online access to special guest presentations, Q&A sessions, live special-edition memorabilia auctions, educational videos and exclusive access to commemorative merchandise in their online store.
The wreckage of the sunken cruiser was found August 19, 2017 in the Phillipine Sea lying at a depth of approximately 18,000 ft. The search team was funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.
The crew of the Indianapolis was collectively awarded the Congressional Gold Medal on December 20, 2018.
Gilday asks the fleet to pause and remember the brave Sailors and Marines of Indianapolis today. “Remember their courage and devotion to each other in the face of the most severe adversity. Remember their valor in combat and the role they played in ending the most devastating war in history. Honor their memory and draw strength from their legacy.”