Shortly after midnight on July 30, 1945, the Navy cruiser USS Indianapolis was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in the Philippine Sea. The ship had just left the island of Tinian, delivering components of the atomic bomb destined for Hiroshima. As the torpedoes hit, the Indianapolis erupted into a fiery coffin, sinking in less than fifteen minutes and leaving nine hundred crewmen fighting for life in shark-infested waters. They expected a swift, routine rescue, unaware that the Navy high command didn’t even realize that the Indianapolis was missing. Help would not arrive for another five days.
Drawn from definitive interviews with key figures, Fatal Voyage recounts the horrific events endured as the number of water-treading survivors dwindled to just 316. Each gruesome day brought more madness and slow death, from explosion-related injuries, dehydration, and, most terrifying of all, shark attacks. But the pain did not end when the men finally returned home: The Indianapolis’s commander, Captain Charles B. McVay III, was court-martialed for causing the clearly unavoidable disaster.
With a new afterword chronicling the fifty-five-year campaign by Indianapolis survivors and their supporters to win public vindication for Captain McVay, this classic is restored, along with memories of the Indianapolis crew.
The cruiser Indianapolis was sunk by a Japanese submarine on July 30, 1945. Most of its crew went down with the ship, but many died during the extraordinary five-day delay in rescue. The ship's captain was one of 316 who survived of a crew of 1196. Charles B. McVay III was court-martialed for negligence, becoming the first captain ever tried by the U.S. Navy for losing his ship in battle. (He later committed suicide.) Kurzman ( A Killing Wind ) here presents a shocking, convincing tale of how a good officer became a political pawn and scapegoat for high-level administrative negligence. He also describes the efforts by McVay's family and survivors of the tragedy to overturn the conviction, efforts which continue despite the ``total resistance'' of the Navy. The sinking of the Indianapolis has been called the Navy's worst sea disaster; Kurzman suggests that it is the Navy's worst moral disaster as well. This is a first-rate work, covering the details of the sinking, the five-day ordeal of the survivors in shark-infested water, and the unusual court-martial (it featured in-person testimony by the Japanese submarine commander). Photos.