USS Indianapolis, July 10, 1945
On July 30, 1945 while sailing in the Pacific between Guam and the Philippines the heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis was torpedoed by the Japanese submarine I-58 and quickly sank. On July 26 the cruiser had delivered to the island of Tinian components of the atomic bomb that was to be dropped on Hiroshima on August 6. Of the 1,196 sailors aboard the ship that night somewhere between 800 and 900 made it into the water.
Because of the shroud of secrecy around the sensitive mission of the Indianapolis the Navy did not realize the ship was missing until survivors were spotted by a plane three days later. By the time rescue planes and ships arrived only 317 sailors were alive. Most of the remainder had been killed by thousands of sharks which had surrounded and attacked the beleaguered sailors over the intervening days.
The horror of those days is known to most of us through the most memorable scene in the movie Jaws:
And here is one survivor's recollections: