Just after midnight on July 30, 1945, days after delivering the components of the atomic bomb to the Pacific Islands in the most highly classified naval mission of the war, USS Indianapolis is sailing alone in the center of the Philippine Sea when she is struck by two Japanese torpedoes. The ship is instantly transformed into a fiery cauldron and sinks within minutes. Some 300 men go down with the ship. Nearly 900 make it into the water alive. For the next five nights and four days, the men battle injuries, sharks, dehydration, insanity, and eventually each other. Only 316 will survive.
For the better part of a century, the story of USS Indianapolis has been understood as a sinking tale. The reality, however, is far more complicated—and compelling. Now, for the first time, thanks to a decade of original research and interviews with 107 survivors and eyewitnesses, Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic tell the complete story of the ship, including a visceral, moment-by-moment account of the chaos on board the sinking ship, to the first moments of shock as the crew plunge into the sea, to the long days and nights during which terror and hunger morph into delusion and desperation.
Welcome to Indianapolis: The True Story of the Worst Sea Disaster in U.S. Naval History and the Fifty-Year Fight to Exonerate an Innocent Man (Simon & Schuster, $28).
The authors go beyond the men’s rescue to chronicle Indianapolis’s extraordinary final mission: the survivors’ 50-year fight for justice on behalf of their skipper, Captain Charles McVay, who is wrongly court-martialed for the sinking and later committed suicide. What follows is a captivating courtroom drama that forever entwines the lives of three captains—McVay, whose life and career are never the same after the scandal; Mochitsura Hashimoto, the Japanese sub commander who sinks Indianapolis but later joins the battle to exonerate McVay; and William Toti, the captain of the modern-day submarine Indianapolis, who helps the survivors fight to vindicate their captain. A sweeping saga of survival, sacrifice, justice, and love, Indianapolis stands as both groundbreaking naval history and spellbinding narrative—and brings the ship and her heroic crew back to full, vivid, unforgettable life.