Stranded In Open Ocean For 5 Days -- The Survivor Of The Worst US Navy Disaster Shares His Experience

The sinking of the USS Indianapolis by the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II was the single greatest loss of life at sea in the history of the U.S. Navy.

Out of a crew of 1,196 sailors, 300 went down with the ship, which sank within 12 minutes of being torpedoed. Hundreds more succumbed to hypothermia, dehydration, starvation, and shark attacks as they waited for five days in the open sea for rescue. Faced with a shortage of life vests and life boats, only 317 sailors ultimately survived the attack.

In a new book, “Out of the Depths,” Marine and USS Indianapolis veteran Edgar Harrell shares his harrowing experience of the wreck, his struggle for survival, and his ultimate rescue.

Below are some of Harrell’s photos of the Indianapolis.

The USS Indianapolis conducted multiple operations against Japanese naval installations throughout the Pacific during World War II.

Among the many dangers the Indianapolis faced, one of the most terrifying was the Japanese use of kamikaze attacks.

USS IndianapolisEdgar Harrell/Out of the DepthsThe Indy’s antiaircraft guns firing at a kamikaze plane.

Still, the Indianapolis successfully took part in campaigns as far apart as New Guinea and the Aleutian Islands.

The Indianapolis’ last mission was the delivery of half the world’s existing enriched uranium to Tinian Island for use in the atomic bomb Little Boy.

Four days after delivering the uranium, on July 30, 1945, two Japanese torpedoes tore through the Indianapolis.

USS IndianapolisEdgar Harrell CollectionJapanese Lt. Cdr. Mochitsura Hashimoto at the periscope of his submarine, the 1-58.

The ship rolled over and sunk almost immediately. The survivors of the initial wreck found themselves stranded for five days in the middle of the Pacific with almost no supplies, vests, or lifeboats.

USS IndianapolisU.S. NavySurvivors en route to the base hospital on Peleilu

Of the 1,196 sailors onboard the Indianapolis, Harrell was one of only 317 to survive.

Check out his full account in his book»

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