“That was the time I was most frightened, waitin’ for my turn. I’ll never put on a life jacket again.” –Shark hunter Quint [Robert Shaw] in the 1975 film “Jaws.”
Quint was referring to the tragedy of the USS Indianapolis, torpedoed in 1945:
Recently the USS Indianapolis, missing for 72 years, has been found in the Philippine Sea approximately three and a half miles below the surface. Story w/ pics here.
Woody James was 23 at the time of the attack and lived to tell about it. His story of horror is very understated:
“Sunday, the 29th of July was a quiet day. The sea was runnin five or six feet waves, just a beautiful day out. Didn’t do too much, read a book, did a little tinkerin as usual. Had the 8:00 to 12:00 watch and just got off at midnight. A guy relieved me about a quarter to twelve. I went down through the galley and had a cup of coffee. Then went to my compartment and got a blanket off my bed and went back up on deck. I slept under the overhang on the first turret. My battle station was inside it so in case general quarters sounded, I slept underneath it. Just got laid down good, using my shoes for a pillow as usual and the first torpedo hit. I was up and down between the deck and the overhang of the turret like Yankee Doodle Dandy. And, I wondered, ‘what in the hell is goin on?’
I got out of my blanket and started to roll out from underneath the turret and the other torpedo hit. Another Yankee Doodle deal, all over the place. I started to walk forward to see what I could see and what I seen was about sixty-foot of the bow chopped off, completely gone. Within a minute and a half, maybe two minutes at the most the bow is startin to do down. It filled up with water that fast. Everything was open below deck and the water just flooded in and we were still under way, just scoopin water. Complete chaos, total and complete chaos all over the whole ship. Screams like you couldn’t believe and nobody knew what was goin on. The word got passed down, “ABANDON SHIP”! It was maybe five minutes and we were really down in the water so we proceeded to abandon ship.”
Survivor Woody James described his ordeal here. It’s even scarier than Quint’s monologue.
2 thoughts on “USS Indianapolis Found After 72 Years”
I worked with a guy back in Boston a long time ago whose father was a lieutenant on the Indianapolis. The guy I knew never talked about his father (very reserved Bostonian type) but I heard that his dad had been on the ship on that particular voyage from someone else. It wasn’t until the internet came along that I was able to look up his father on the crew list. He didn’t make it. Now I know why Bob (my friend) didn’t talk about it.
Randy– It’s amazing that anyone survived.