A Grave Misfortune

A Grave Misfortune: The USS Indianapolis Tragedy tells the tragic story of the sinking of the cruiser U.S.S. Indianapolis (CA-35) in July 1945, shortly before the end of World War II. The ship had delivered components for the atomic bomb later used against Hiroshima to the U.S. airbase on Tinian and was underway to the Philippines. Indianapolis was lost after sustaining two torpedo hits from an undetected Japanese submarine.

The majority of the 1,180-man crew died and most of the survivors suffered burns and other injuries. Many of those who survived the explosions later perished in the Philippine Sea due to thirst, lack of food, and shark attacks.  About 300 survivors were rescued by Navy air patrols after four days adrift.  The commanding officer, Captain Charles P. McVay, was subsequently court-martialed and found guilty of hazarding his ship. This coming year, 2020, will mark the 75th anniversary of the sinking, the largest loss of life at sea, on one ship, in the U.S. Navy’s history. The incident launched years of acrimonious debate between the survivor’s association and the Navy, but also led to reassessment of many standard Navy operating procedures.

This authoritative volume offers many primary source documents related to the ship’s final voyage, its crew, the Navy board of inquiry following the sinking, and Captain McVay’s court-martial, along with trenchant analysis. Previously unknown Navy source materials that led to the discovery of the wreck of Indianapolis in September 2017 are also included.

In addition to historically significant documents, the book includes a foldout facsimile of the original Navy construction plan of Indianapolis, numerous period photos, diagrams, and a complete crew list. Photos of the ship’s wreck as it appeared when found round out this comprehensive work.

A Grave Misfortune: The USS Indianapolis Tragedy is also available for free download in a variety of digital formats, including ePub, MOBI, and PDF.

You may find other U.S. Navy documentary histories at the Naval History and Heritage Command.

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About the author: This week’s blog contributor is Maureen Whelan, Senior Marketing Team Leader for GPO’s Publications and Information Sales program office in Washington, DC. Maureen oversees print and digital content dissemination strategy and manages third party free and paid content distribution through platforms and vendors, such as Apple iBookstore, Barnesandnoble.com, Google Play eBookstore, Ebscohost databases, Overdrive, ProQuest, and more.

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