Monday, June 21, 2010

June 21, 2010 : USS Indianapolis

USS Indianapolis (CA-35)

At 0014 on 30 July, she was struck by two torpedoes from Japanese submarine I-58 under the command of Mochitsura Hashimoto. The explosions caused massive damage, causing Indianapolis to sink in just 12 minutes. The Japanese submarine had gone undetected prior to the attack because of the lack of effective submarine detection equipment on the American ship.

About 300 of the 1,196 men on board died in the sinking. The rest of the crew, 880 men, with few lifeboats and many without lifejackets, floated in the water awaiting rescue. However, the Navy command had no knowledge of the sinking (the failure of the ship to arrive at her destination not having been noticed) until survivors were spotted four and a half days later, at 1025 on 2 August by pilot Lieutenant Wilbur (Chuck) Gwinn and copilot Lieutenant Warren Colwell on a routine patrol flight.. Only 321 crew came out of the water alive, with 316 ultimately surviving.

They suffered from lack of food and water (some found rations such as Spam and crackers amongst the debris), exposure to the elements (hypothermia, dehydration, hypernatremia, photophobia, starvation and dementia), severe desquamation, and shark attacks, while some of the men killed one another in various states of delirium and hallucinations. The Discovery Channel has stated that the
Indianapolis sinking resulted in the most shark attacks on humans in history, and attributes the attacks to the oceanic whitetip shark species. The same show attributed most of the deaths on Indianapolis to exposure, salt poisoning and thirst, with the dead being dragged off by sharks.

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