Indianapolis: The True Story of the Worst Sea Disaster in U.S. Naval History and the Fifty-Year Fight to Exonerate an Innocent Man

Written by Lynn Vincent
Review by Alan Cassady-Bishop

An action film by Steven Spielberg had a moment – a hero recalled his experience from a World War Two warship. But that warship refused to go down without a fight. En route from the island of Tinian, in the latter days of the war, the heavy cruiser Indianapolis is sailing south-west along a well-known route to the Philippines. After acquitting herself well in the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, the magnificent workhorse – favoured by Presidents and visitors – had been stopped from gathering breath (and refits) to answer the call as a courier; the Indianapolis unknowingly carried components for the bomb to end the war. After a successful mission, she was sent away … to her death. A pure chance encounter with a Japanese submarine killed her. Out of just under 1200 men, 300 go down with the ship in a black, oily, fiery death. Nearly 900 men make it into the water, wounded or healthy. Only 316 survive.

This book isn’t only about the worst naval disaster in US history, about the stories of the survivors. It’s about the fight of that same crew to exonerate their captain who’d been pilloried and torn up by the service he’d served with honour for decades. It was the last fight against the sharks!