Just after midnight on July 30th, 1945, a Japanese submarine set her sites on the USS Indianapolis and launched a spread of six torpedoes. Two of them struck the heavy cruiser igniting 3500 gallons of aviation fuel which ignited powder magazine which exploded with enough force to lift 9950 ton ship’s bow out of the water. She sunk in 12 minutes.
What followed was the greatest shark attack that ever happened. Naval Intelligence intercepted the message the I38 sub sent back to Japan informing command that they had sunk the Indianapolis. That message was disregarded as a vain attempt to lure navy ships out into the range of Japanese torpedoes. For days, the white tip sharks fed on the dead. When they ran out of dead, they went to the living who thrashed the water trying to get away. 1197 sailors and marines went into the water, 316 survived. 22 are still alive.
It’s been 72 years since the USS Indianapolis delivered the Little Boy bomb to Tinian Island where the Enola Gay flown by Colonel Paul Tibbits delivered the first atomic bomb to Hiroshima. The Portland Class heavy cruiser went down 18,000 feet into the Philippine sea.
Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen led the expedition that found the Indianapolis. “To be able to honor the brave men of the USS Indianapolis and their families through the discovery of a ship that played such a significant role in ending World War II is truly humbling,” said Allen. “As Americans, we all owe a debt of gratitude to the crew for their courage, persistence and sacrifice in the face of horrendous circumstances. While our search for the rest of the wreckage will continue, I hope everyone connected to this historic ship will feel some measure of closure at this discovery so long in coming.”
— Paul Allen (@PaulGAllen) August 19, 2017
There’s addition video here on CNN of the expedition. This interview of one of the marines on that fateful voyage is riveting.