Atomic Snapshots: USS Indianapolis Memorial

The north face of the monument depicts the heavy cruiser with inscriptions of her service history.

At the north end of Canal Walk in Indianapolis, IN, you’ll find the national memorial for the USS Indianapolis, which was torpedoed and sunk by Imperial Japanese Navy submarine I-58 on July 30, 1945. The memorial commemorates the 1,195 crewmen, of which only 316 survived the sinking, dehydration, exposure, and shark attacks.

The USS Indianapolis departed San Francisco’s Hunters Point Naval Shipyard on July 16, 1945, after repairs and an overhaul, on a top-secret mission to deliver enriched uranium and other parts for the Little Boy atomic bomb. After departing Pearl Harbor on July 19, Indianapolis made way, unaccompanied, to Tinian, arriving on July 26. Next, she sailed to Guam and began sailing toward Leyte to receive training before joining Task Force 95 near Okinawa. At 15 minutes past midnight on July 30, Indianapolis was struck by two torpedoes.

The south face of the monument bears the names of the ship’s company and passengers along with a description of the top-secret mission, attack, and rescue.

The memorial was formally dedicated in 1995, 50 years after the sinking. The memorial was designed by Joseph Fischer and is part of the Indiana War Memorial Commission. The holdings also comprise the Indiana War Memorial Plaza Historic District, Indiana War Memorial Museum, the Indiana Soldiers and Sailors Monument, the Medal of Honor Memorial, and the 9/11 Memorial.

The National WWII Museum video.

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