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USS Indianapolis (CA-35)

Discussion in 'Naval Warfare in the Pacific' started by Gunney, Aug 24, 2011.

  1. Gunney

    Gunney Member

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    i have searched everywheare on this forum and have only seen the Indie mention twice so far. Captain McVay commanded the Indianapolis on its final voyage before it was sunk by a japanese submarine in 1944 after delivering parts for the atomic bomb Fatman. but the most astounding thing was that McVay was out of all US ship commanders was the only one coutmashaled for the loss of a ship to enemy fire. i am asking you all, do you think McVay should have been coutmashaled or not.

    My opinion is no
     
  2. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    Don't know Gunney, but being an old shark freek from way back, i know the Indianapolis from the largest shark/human kill in known history! Very vague memory of the story now...but i think of the 700 who went into the drink, only a fraction was taken back out...days of being sniped by hundreds of sharks from underneath...with hundreds more on their way...The majority of killers were the Blue Ocean shark (Long skinny bluish thing)...but just about every man eating species turned up for the smorgasbord...That story even overshadows the fact that it delivered the bomb in my mind...
     
  3. Clementine

    Clementine Member

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    I don't believe he should have been court martialed. But I think the most telling thing is that his men defended him, and I think that is proof enough.

    We had three men living in our area who were veterans of the Indianapolis, unfortunately one of them, Mr. Earl Riggens, passed away this past February. But last November two of them, Mr. Riggens and Mr. Don McCall, were the Grand Marshalls of our Holiday Parade. And just prior to the parade there was a reception where we got to meet and talk with them. What an honor that was.

    Life Remembered: Earl Riggins, survivor of USS Indianapolis sinking | News-Gazette.com
     
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  4. obxgyrene

    obxgyrene Member

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    The Indianapolis was lost in July or August of 1945, not in 1944. From what I have read, the commander of the Japanese sub that sank the Indy was shocked that the Navy court-martialed Captain McVay. I have not read the transcripts of his trial, so its hard to reach an impartial opinion, but I suspect he should not have been brought to trial--let alone convicted. Hazarding and losing a vessel though is a serious matter and is always scrutinized. I understand that Captain McVay eventually took his own life and was many years after the war exonerated of any wrongdoing.
     
  5. freebird

    freebird Member

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    My impression is that the USN was covering it's own incompetence by having the captain walk the plank.
    Ships will be lost in war, that's just (usually) chance.
    The problem with CA-35 was that they didn't realize it was missing and sent no rescue.
    it doesn't seem like the captain was negligent
     
  6. Vinny Maru

    Vinny Maru Member

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    One of the stories I read stated (IIRC) that McVays' father (a higher ranking officer) had once gotten all over CNO King's rear when he was a very junior officer, and there was a lot of suspicion that there was something of a revenge factor.

    The other side is that the navy has to blame someone as it couldn't possibly be the navy's/system's fault that anything was wrong. Their reputation of attempting to shift blame someone else has been demonstrated other times as well.
     
  7. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    "(a higher ranking officer) had once gotten all over CNO King's rear when he was a very junior officer"

    Yeah, one must factor in the the Navy environment before making judgements... :)
    Sorry couldn't help myself....
     
  8. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    iIs it true Pilot Marks and his crew salvaged 56 men with his little rescue aircraft by hanging ropes from the wings to keep them out of water. he had received orders not to land , but by noticing the survivors were being devored, he chose to land his plane and save as many men as possible way before the others rescuers arrived.
     
  9. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Skipper,

    Lt. Robert Adrian Marks was a PBY Catalina, hardly what one would call "little", your probably thinking of an O2SU "Kingfisher"(also known for some remarkable rescues). AFAIK, the ropes and life rings were thrown to the survivors in the water to drag them to the plane and then haul them aboard. Although, IIRC, to keep men falling off the wings, they tied them down to the wings using parachute material.

    From what I remember, Marks was a very brave, and lucky, pilot. Wave height were reported as being 12 feet, and he could have just as easily broken the plane's back. Thus, he would likely have joined the survivors in the water rather than rescuing them.

    Lt. Marks passed away March, 1998 at the age of 81.
     
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  10. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    Thanks for the input Takao, Lt Marks must have been horified when he saw the sharks and the fate of most survivors.
     
  11. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    At one point in time it was SOP that a captain was "court martialed" if he lost his ship. That doesn't mean that he was going to be convicted just that there would be a formal investigation as to how and why the ship was lost. Since this is from memory it may have been a British policy rather than American but I think they both had it in place at least prior to the 20th century.
     
  12. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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  13. texson66

    texson66 Ace

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    One of the best books on the Indie and its last mission is

    [h=1]In Harm's Way: The Sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors [Paperback][/h] Doug Stanton [​IMG]

    Doug Stanton (Author)
    Visit Amazon's Doug Stanton Page
    Find all the books, read about the author, and more.
    See search results for this author
    Are you an author? Learn about Author Central


    (Author)


    I recommend it highly. It is a sad tale of the Navy losing track of a capital battleship with loss of life of the crew, using the Captain as a scapegoat, and the ultimate suicide of the Indie' Captain.
     
  14. Gunney

    Gunney Member

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    the reason why a CSAR mission wasent carried out was because when the distress signal went out from the indie the Radio operators who received the message (3 in total), only two reported it to a senior officer, one judged it as a Japanese trap and decided to not to do anything but the other officer orderd the two fastest tugs at his disposal to rush to the coordinates transmitted by the indie, but were recalled by another officer who was enraged that the tugs were deployed without his permission and orderd them back although they were already 7 hours into the 21 hour jouny to the indies last coordinates

    View attachment 14084 .jpg]
    the USS Indianapolis at mare Island
     

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  15. namvet

    namvet Member

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    lot of good and accurate info here. the story i heard was on a TV documentary.

    one of the officers who died in the disaster was the son of a wealthy bussiness industrialists back east. after greiving for his son he wanted someone to pay. this guy had a lotta big connections with politicans and insisted someone should be responsible. the politicans didn't know what to do, so they dumped it on the Navy. the Navy said there's only one. the first. by law. the CO. so the court martial was ordered.

    also the stories about King are true. he was court martialed by the SR Mcvay many years previous when they were both junior officers. the story goes while in the far east King tried to smuggle a prostitute on board and got caught

    King was put in charge of Mcvay's III court martial. it was vengence time. in any court today this gets thrown out.
     
  16. George Patton

    George Patton Canadian Refugee

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    Can you post a link for this? I looked, but couldn't find anything.
     
  17. namvet

    namvet Member

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    ill give it a shot. but it was a TV documentary. one of many
     
  18. Drew Childers

    Drew Childers Member

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    As mentioned previously, In Harm's Way is a good read on the subject. However, I read it sometime ago and don't remember a lot. I seem to recall one of the reasons a CSAR wasn't initiated for the Indie was she was sailing for Luzon, where there was a system for noting ships arrivals but not ships non-arrival, so when she didn't arrive as scheduled no one noticed and no action was taken.

    Also, wasn't the Jap sub commander used as a witness at the court martial? Or something along those lines? I got that from a bad Stacy Keach made-for-TV movie a while back, not sure how accurate...which leads back to the bad WWII movies thread.
     
  19. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Ace

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    Another reason I recall that she wasn't reported as having arrived at her destination was because when she left San Francisco, she was carrying parts for one of the atomic bombs, and therefore her sailing was classified. The captain himself didn't know where he was going. Nobody knew they were coming. After dropping off the parts at one island location, they were ordered to sail on to another, but if you "never arrived" at the first location, you can't really depart from there, either, and set a course for the second non-classified destination. I think I read (in the aforementioned "In Harm's Way") that due to all of the secrecy, nobody really knew where she was, other than a few who were actually aboard her at the time. Thus, when the distress call was received, the one officer noted that there was no USS Indianapolis scheduled to be in that area of the ocean at that time, so assumed that it must be a Japanese trap.
     
  20. Drew Childers

    Drew Childers Member

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    I was incorrect on the destination, she was bound for Leyte, not Luzon, right country, wrong island.
     

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