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Freedom Is Not Free
The story of the USS Indianapolis is one of the most tragic stories in American military history.  This month we celebrate the rescue of the remaining survivors on August 2, 1945.  Below is a short summary but the book In Harm's Way recounts the story in great detail.  The personal accounts of the survivors are very moving to say the least.
 
USS Indianapolis was a Portland-class heavy cruiser of the United States Navy, named for the city of Indianapolis, Indiana.  Launched in 1931, the vessel served as the flagship for the commander of Scouting Force 1 for eight years, then as flagship for Admiral Raymond Spruance in 1943 and 1944 while he commanded the Fifth Fleet in battles across the Central Pacific during World War II.
 
In July 1945, Indianapolis completed a top-secret high-speed trip to deliver parts of "Little Boy", the first nuclear weapon ever used in combat, to the United States Army Air Force Base on the island of Tinian, and subsequently departed for the Philippines on training duty.
 
At 0015 on 30 July, the ship was torpedoed by the Imperial Japanese Navy submarine I-58, and sank in just 12 minutes.  Contrary to popular belief, three SOS signals were sent out, received, and logged, but never acted upon.  Of 1,195 crewmen aboard, approximately 300 went down with the ship.  The remaining 890 faced exposure, dehydration, saltwater poisoning, and shark attacks while stranded in the open ocean with few lifeboats and almost no food or water.  Many of those who spilled into the water were injured from the torpedo explosions.  Survivors thought surely help must be on its way.  Compounding the disaster was the fact the port officials at Leyte were not required to report the nonarrival. 
 
The Navy only learned of the sinking four days later, when survivors were accidentally spotted by the crew of a PV-1 Ventura on routine antisubmarine patrol and subsequently rescued.  Only 316 men survived.  The sinking of Indianapolis resulted in the greatest single loss of life at sea, from a single ship, in the history of the US Navy.
 
The loss of the USS Indianapolis brought major changes to reporting procedures for arrivals and nonarrivals of ships.  The Indianapolis was sailing alone; since then any vessel with 500 or more on board has an escort, possibly a destroyer.   
 
On 19 August 2017, a search team financed by Paul Allen located the wreckage of the sunken cruiser in the Philippine Sea lying at a depth of approximately 18,000 ft (5,500 m).  On 20 December 2018, the crew of the Indianapolis was collectively awarded a Congressional Gold Medal.
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