Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday is asking the fleet to observe a 12-minute moment of silence Wednesday morning in honor of the 75th anniversary of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis (CA-35) in the Philippine Sea.
Of the 1,196 crewmen aboard the ship when it was sunk by an Imperial Japanese submarine after delivering parts for Little Boy — the bomb dropped on Hiroshima — only 317 survived. About 900 Sailors survived the initial sinking, but two thirds of them died from exposure, dehydration, saltwater poisoning, and shark attacks.
“I ask you to pause and take a moment on July 29, between 11:03 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. EDT, to remember the brave Sailors and Marines of INDIANAPOLIS,” Gilday said in the message to the fleet. “Remember their courage and devotion to each other in the face of the most severe adversity. Remember their valor in combat and the role they played in ending the most devastating war in history. Honor their memory and draw strength from their legacy.”
The Indianapolis was struck by two torpedoes at 12:03 a.m. on July 30, 1945 while on a solo transit across the Philippine Sea.
“Despite their best efforts, the ship went down in 12 short minutes,” the message added. “While much is written about the crews four harrowing days in the waters of the Pacific waiting to be found with few lifeboats, over-exposure to the elements, and almost no food or water, one thing is certain: those brave Sailors and Marines endured impossible hardships by banding together. And we must do the same today.”
MAIN PHOTO: PEARL HARBOR (UNDATED, 1937) The Portland-class heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis (CA 35) underway in Pearl Harbor in 1937. The ship was sunk on July 30, 1945 by an Imperial Japanese submarine in the Philippine Sea following delivery of parts for Little Boy, the first atomic bomb used in combat, to the United States air base at Tinian. Of 1,196 crewmen aboard, approximately 300 went down with the ship. The remaining 900 faced exposure, dehydration, saltwater poisoning, and shark attacks while floating with few lifeboats and almost no food or water. The Navy learned of the sinking when survivors were spotted four days later by the crew of a PV-1 Ventura on routine patrol. Only 317 survived. (U.S. Navy photo)