USS Indianapolis went down 71 years ago; hundreds awaited rescue in water for days
There's a new clue on shipwreck's general location; Navy consolidates info on website
When the 1975 blockbuster “Jaws” first terrified moviegoers, not all of the fear came from the special effects or haunting soundtrack. One of the more chilling scenes was fisherman Quint’s quiet recounting of bobbing in Pacific waters for days while sharks circled him and his fellow sailors, waiting to see who would be the next victim. Quint described the sharks’ black, lifeless eyes, the blood-curdling screams, the ocean turning red.
That grim story, painted from the real-life sinking of the USS Indianapolis near the end of World War II, is part of an upcoming Nicolas Cage movie and a Navy Web page produced ahead of Saturday’s 71st anniversary of the tragedy.
The unescorted Indianapolis carried almost 1,200 sailors and had just delivered to Tinian Island components of the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. Its secret mission over, the cruiser departed Guam and steamed for Leyte, an island in the Philippines, for training.
But torpedoes from a Japanese submarine sent the ship, and up to 300 of its men, to the bottom of the ocean in just 12 minutes in the first hour of July 30, 1945. The frantic crew was unable to get off a successful distress signal.
Of an estimated 800 sailors who went into the water, only 316 survived the nearly five-day ordeal – the rest succumbing to burns, dehydration, exhaustion, shark attacks and drowning.
While some Americans are familiar with the demise of the Indianapolis – the highest loss of Navy personnel at sea – a recent nugget of information sheds new light on where the ship was attacked.
Here are six questions a