December. Navy Department formally named cruiser #35 as USS Indianapolis.
March 31. Keel laid as light cruiser at Camden, New Jersey by The
New York Shipbuilding Company.
November 7. Cruiser launched. Christened by Miss Lucy Taggart,
daughter of Senator Thomas Taggart, a former Mayor of Indianapolis.
November 15. Commissioned at Philadelphia Navy Yard
January 10. Sailed for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and shakedown cruise.
Spring. President Franklin D. Roosevelt chose
the USS Indianapolis as his “Ship of State” using her
as his personal transport for trans-Atlantic and South American
travel on numerous occasions. Many of the World’s leaders
and royalty toured her deck as guests of the United States. USS
Indianapolis became a symbol of a dynamic, young America wherever
she went in the world.
July 1. After a shakedown cruise, Indianapolis
steamed to Provincetown, Massachusetts to Eastport and Bar Harbor,
Maine to pick up President Franklin D. Roosevelt from his Campobello
Island summer home. She took the President to Annapolis, Maryland,
the home of the US Naval Academy. After entertaining dignitaries,
she departed for Philadelphia.
September 6. Carried C.A. Swansom, Secretary
of the Navy on inspection tour of Pacific bases arriving at San
Diego, California on October 27
November 1. Became flagship of Scouting Force,
May 31. Arrived in New York and picked for President Roosevelt
and numerous dignitaries for the Presidential Review of US Fleet
in the Hudson River.
Indianapolis participated in fleet war games in the Pacific.
November 18. Picked up President Roosevelt at Charleston, South
Carolina for the “Good Neighbor” tour of South America
including the Pan American Conference in Buenos Aires. This was
the first time in history that a serving President of the United
States had visited outside North America. Returned to Charleston,
South Carolina December 15.
1937 – 1938
Indianapolis participated in wartime training exercises.
November. Entered Mare Island, California Naval Yard after having
traveled over 215,000 miles since her commissioning.
April. US Fleet moved to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii as a deterrent to
tensions between the United States and Japan.
December 7. On bombarding exercises off Johnson Island, west of
Hawaii. After Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, joined Task Force
12 in a futile search to find the attacking Japanese carrier
January – March. Indianapolis experiences first wartime
action. Operated in South Pacific including Rabaul and Port Moresby.
On February 20, the American force was attacked by two waves of
Japanese bombers with 16 of 18 of the bombers shot down by US aircraft.
In March, she returned to United States for refitting.
June. Escorted a convoy to Australia then returned
to the North Pacific.
July. Joined Aleutians Fleet Force in defending
Aleutians Islands after Japanese invasion. Shelled Kiska Island.
September – December. Returned to United
States for refitting and overhaul.
January. Returned to Aleutian Islands to support Allied landings
against Japanese held islands.
February 19. Intercepted Japanese cargo ship
Akagane Maru. Enemy ship blew up with massive force after hits
from USS Indianapolis.
February – March. Returned to Mare Island
for major overhaul. Indianapolis is selected as the Flagship for
Admiral Raymond Spruance, Commander, Fifth Fleet. Admiral Spruance
was the victorious in the Battle of Midway.
November 10. Left Pearl Harbor for the opening
of the Central Pacific Campaign and Operation Galvanic, the invasion
of the Gilbert Islands.
November 19. December Bombarded Island of Tarawa
and Makin prior to Allied Landing. Confirmed enemy plane shot down.
December 7. Departed for Pearl Harbor with Fifth
Fleet Staff to plan the Marshall Island invasion.
January 31. Bombarded Kawajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands.
March – April. Indianapolis carried
the Flag in company with Task Force 58 which raided the Western
Carolines to support General MacArthur’s operations in New
Guinea. Participated in raid on Palau Islands. Confirmed second
enemy planed downed, a torpedo bomber.
June 9 -13. Became part of bombarding force
against Tinian, Saipan and Guam. Capture of these islands brought
Japan within range of B-29 bombers. Indianapolis hit by enemy 120mm
shell which failed to explode.
June 19. Participated in Battle of Philippine
Sea (Marianas Turkey Shoot). Confirmed enemy torpedo bomber downed.
Indianapolis rescues many naval aviators whose aircraft ran out
of fuel late in the night.
July 24. Contributed fire support for the Allied
landing on Tinian Island.
July 29. Indianapolis became the first US Navy
ship to enter Apra Harbor, Guam since the start of the war. She
took Admiral Spruance there to meet with the Marine and Army generals
for the flag raising ceremony.
September. Shelled Peleliu Island in Palau
to support landings and Manus in the Admiralty Islands.
October. Returned to Mare Island for overhaul
January 14. With Admiral Spruance aboard, joined Task Force 58
off Japan and in February participated in Allied carrier strikes
against the Japanese homeland.
February 20. Arrived off Iwo Jima to again
provide fire support for invasion.
February 25. Rejoined Task Force 58 and was stationed
south of the Japanese mainland to furnish cover for carrier strikes
March 14. Joined fast carrier force to strike
at southern Japanese islands of Kyushu and Honshu.
March 24. Took part in seven day pre-invasion
bombardment of Okinawa. Confirmed six enemy planes downed and assisted
with two other.
March 31. During the morning, Indianapolis is
hit by Japanese kamikaze plane on the port side of the after-deck
of the ship and fell into the sea causing little damage. The kamikaze
released its bomb and it penetrated the ship’s deck on the
port quarter and exploded under causing severe damage. The bomb
killed nine men and injured 26. Two holes were blown in the ship’s
bottom and several compartments were flooded. Indianapolis had
a list to port but steamed under her own power to Mare Island and
arrived in late April.
May – June. Underwent repairs and refitted
with the latest radar and twin 20mm guns with electronic sights.
One aircraft catapult was removed. While in dry dock at Mare Island,
the War Department chose the ship to transport components of the
atomic bomb to Tinian Island.
July 15. Indianapolis reported Hunter’s
Point Navy Yard in San Francisco to pick up atomic bomb components.
July 16. Early in the morning and under security
and secrecy, the atom bomb components were loaded. The components
included the firing mechanism and the major part of the uranium-235
nuclear material to be used in assembly of the atomic bomb, “Little
Boy.” Operation Bronx Shipment was the code name for the
transfer of the components from the United States to Tinian Island.
The firing mechanism was in a 15 foot long crate and the uranium-235
weighing 132 pounds was in two lead lined containers weighing 200
pounds each and measured 18 inches in diameter and 18 inches long.
The crate was bolted down to the hanger deck and the uranium containers
were secured to the deck in the admiral’s cabin. The uranium
containers were accompanied by two scientists posing as Army artillery
Indianapolis sailed for Pearl Harbor at an average
speed of 29 knots in the record 74.5 hour trip. After replenishing,
it sailed for the island of Tinian and arrived July 26 to unload
the secret cargo and personnel. Indianapolis then headed South
and made a brief stop at Guam to receive new orders.
July 28. Left Guam unescorted for the Leyte Gulf
to join the USS Idaho for gunnery practice. From Leyte, she was
to rejoin the fleet off Okinawa for the expected invasion of Japan.
A single coded message was sent from Guam to Idaho advising her
of the Indianapolis’ orders. The radio message was “garbled” and
the Idaho did ask for a repeat of the message. The Idaho did not
know Indianapolis was on her way.
July 30. At 12:14 AM, take two torpedo hits from
Japanese Submarine I-58; one blowing away the Indianapolis’ bow
and striking the starboard side in the machinery spaces near a
powder magazine and one of her fuel oil bunkers. The electrical
power was knocked out and a SOS was not sent. In 12 minutes, the
USS Indianapolis sinks by the bow. It is believed that almost 300
men may have been killed immediately or went down with the ship.
Of the 1,196 men on board it is estimated 900 hundred men made
it into the water with 317 surviving to be rescued.
August 2. A Navy Lockheed PV-1 Ventura spotted
debris and survivors over a 200 mile area and radioed his base
at Palau. A Catalina PB-Y Flying Boat was dispatched and against
Navy regulations landed the aircraft near some survivors and took
as many men as possible on board and on the wings. 56 men were
August 3. Responding to the radio rescue calls,
the destroyers, Cecil Doyle, Talbot, Dufilho arrived at the scene.
Auxiliary ships the Ringness, Bassett and Register came to the
rescue. 317 survivors were rescued. The survivors were taken to
the Peleliu and Samar in the Philippines and later all transferred
to Guam for rehabilitation.
August 4. Destroy escort Alvin C. Cockrill and
the destroyer Aylwin arrived but found no survivors.
August 5. The destroyer Helm and destroyer escort
arrived. The Helm found and buried at sea 28 bodies. Both
ships cleaned up the area leaving just the thinning oil slick.
At the end of the search, a radius of 100 miles of ocean or more
than 31,400 square miles had been combed.
August 6. The atom bomb with components delivered
by the Indianapolis was dropped by B-29 “Enola Gay” on
Japanese city of Hiroshima.
August 13. Inquiry on the Indianapolis disaster
begins on Guam.
August 14, 8:00 PM, EST. President Harry Truman
makes radio announcement the Japanese have accepted the Allies’ surrender
August 14, 9:00 PM, EST. The sinking of the USS
Indianapolis was announced on the radio. Newspaper reports were
September 2. Japan signed surrender documents
on board USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay ending the World War II.
October. Captain Charles McVay is exonerated
for the loss of the USS Indianapolis and so many of
her crew. This resolution was the result of a Bill introduced
to Congress and a five year effort spearheaded by student, Hunter
Scott of Florida.