Thursday, June 07, 2018

The relation of the USS Indianapolis to present day matters

On June 6, 2018, CBS re-broadcast the episode "Boarding Party" of the show "Seal Team," first seen October 11, 2017. Within the episode is an allusion to the sinking of the USS Indianapolis, and the shark attacks on survivors, in the area in which the Seal Team is operating:

These are the very same waters where the USS Indianapolis sank in 1945.
Hundreds of American crewmen survived the sinking only to end up, sadly, eaten by sharks.

As to this episode of Seal Team, there were no sharks, and the allusion to the Indianapolis was a throw-away line. See for example SEAL Team Season 1 Episode 3 Review: Boarding Party . Further, notwithstanding Robert Shaw's text in the movie Jaws, it is not clear "how many" live survivors (as opposed to dead ones) were consumed by sharks.


** Of relevance in June 2018 is the fate of the commander of the Indianapolis, Charles B. McVay III, who was court-martialed in 1945, and committed suicide in 1968, with his body found by his gardener. As to June 2018, see Designer Kate Spade's death renews conversation about mental health awareness .

** As to schools in Pensacola, Florida, note the efforts of Hunter Scott, supported by then Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough, which contributed to a Congressional resolution exonerating McVay in the year 2000.

**Although the text in "Boarding Party" did not mention issues in the location of the USS Indianapolis, it was a blog post in the year 2015 that led to the locating of the sunken USS Indianapolis:

For Memorial Day 2015, Mackinaw City businessman John Murdick decided to honor the World War II service of his father Francis Murdick on the website of his family business by sharing a story his dad told about his tank landing ship being passed by USS Indianapolis (CA 35) on the cruiser’s final day.

What the younger Murdick couldn’t have known was that his humble tribute would set in motion a series of studies that would change the Navy’s understanding of a 70 year old mystery and a little more than two years later, play a small role in providing closure to the nearly 1,200 families of Indy’s crew and resolve one of the greatest mysteries of World War II naval history.


Indianapolis was one of the “Holy Grails” of ship wreck hunters since the finding of the Titanic, and a number of researchers have approached the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) for historical, navigational and archaeological support over the years including Allen and his director of subsea operations Robert Kraft.

Then Navy historian Richard Hulver, Ph.D., while working to reexamine the history of Indianapolis in preparation for upcoming World War II 75th anniversary commemorations, came across Murdick’s blog post about his dad seeing Indianapolis.

That blog post led Hulver to the deck logs of Murdick’s ship LST-779, which were on file at the National Archives. The deck logs contained an entry noting their gunnery practice in detail which lined up with what Indianapolis’ Captain McVay remembered about the chance passing encounter. While the LST deck logs did not specifically mention passing Indianapolis, the matching narratives of the gunnery practice was enough to use as the basis to get new, reliable coordinates for the ship during her final hours.

See Finding USS Indianapolis – After 70 Years, What Changed?

Also on Hulver's work:

When the archives appeared fruitless, [Hulver] turned to Google.

“It was kind of an act of desperation, really,” Hulver said.

He searched for the identify of the LST using different keywords, hoping some snippet of information would pop up. And then around Christmas of 2015, there it was, six or seven pages into a search: Murdick’s blog.

“I was really trying to find a piece of that puzzle, and that’s where that blog really helped me out,” Hulver said.

It was information that Hulver could take back to National Personnel Records Center to find the name of the LST that Francis Murdick had served on that day. In the records, Hulver found the name of the ship, USS LST-779, and he took that to the National Archives to retrieve a copy of the LST’s deck log. With that, he was able to determine where the encounter took place.


The key blog post Francis G. Murdick – My Father contains the text:

My dad and his buddies lamented about how great it would be to be on a Cruiser like the Indianapolis.

**As to a timeline, the US (with the UK and China) called for unconditional surrender of Japan in the Potsdam Declaration on July 26, 1945. The USS Indianapolis delivered parts and enriched uranium-235 to Tinian Island for the atomic bomb "Little Boy" on July 26, 1945. The USS Indianapolis was sunk July 30, 1945. Seven days after the sinking, the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Those who died in the sinking would never learn of the details, or success, of their mission. Recall that the USSR was not at war with Japan on July 26, 1945 (as a result of the neutrality treaty of April 1941) but declared war on Japan on August 9, 1945.

Note a previous post on IPBiz related to the USS Indianapolis:

The cover story [of CBS Sunday Morning on 12 June 2016] titled Remembering the Titanic of Shark Attacks has a New Jersey theme, relating to shark attacks that happened near Matawan 100 years ago.

One might suspect that shark attacks on survivors of the sinking of the Indianapolis might rate higher than those in New Jersey;
as pointed out on wikipedia: a 2007 episode of the Discovery Channel TV documentary series Shark Week, states that the Indianapolis sinking resulted in the most shark attacks on humans in history. And, there is another theme in the Indianapolis sinking related to the Titanic:

The Indianapolis sent distress calls before sinking. Three stations received the signals; however, none acted upon the call. One commander was drunk, another had ordered his men not to disturb him and a third thought it was a Japanese trap. For a long time the Navy denied that a distress call had been sent. The receipt of the call came to light only after the release of declassified records.


link to IPBiz:

Note also that Hulver wrote in 2018:

This entire event shows the inherent difficulties in accounting for casualties in the fog of war and in verifying those figures years after the fact—particularly with an episode as chaotic as the loss of Indianapolis. We can now confirm, 73 years later, that the Navy’s number of survivors in 1945 was correct at 316, and that the final crew list for that tragic voyage has been corrected to show 1,195 men were on board and 879 lives lost.

**Separately, as to a possible "intellectual property" relation to Kate Spade's death, note text at AFP

Designer Kate Spade, who committed suicide in New York this week, had been treated for depression and anxiety for five years, her husband said Wednesday.

"She was actively seeking help for depression and anxiety over the last five years, seeing a doctor on a regular basis and taking medication for both depression and anxiety," her husband Andy Spade said in a statement carried by The New York Times.

It was a blunt rebuke to claims by the designer's sister that Kate Spade needed mental health care but refused treatment over concerns about potentially hurting the light-hearted brand.


As to "Little Boy," note the Wigner effect in graphite.


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