Abandon Ship!: The Saga of The U.S.S.Indianapolis, the Navy's Greatest Sea Disaster

Abandon Ship!: The Saga of The U.S.S.Indianapolis, the Navy's Greatest Sea Disaster

by Richard F. Newcomb
     
 

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Abandon Ship! was the first chronicle of the events leading up to the sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis in the Pacific on July 30, 1945, the horrific aftermath at sea, and the contested political consequences in the U.S.

The U.S.S. Indianapolis, a sophisticated cruiser that carried over a thousand men and part of an A-bomb, was torpedoed by a Japanese… See more details below

Overview

Abandon Ship! was the first chronicle of the events leading up to the sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis in the Pacific on July 30, 1945, the horrific aftermath at sea, and the contested political consequences in the U.S.

The U.S.S. Indianapolis, a sophisticated cruiser that carried over a thousand men and part of an A-bomb, was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine at the end of WWII, catching the ship and the Navy off-guard. While many on board survived the sinking, hundreds of men died over the four days that followed, falling prey to sharks, dehydration, and other malicious elements. The captain of the ship, Charles McVay, survived and was courtmarshalled for, among other charges, failure to issue a timely warning to abandon ship. This courtmarshall was controversial since the beginning. Critics, some within the Navy, charged that McVay was a scapegoat for an array of larger procedural failures and intrigues on the part of the Navy. Abandon Ship! was the first book to challenge the charges against McVay, and the essays by Peter Maas will examine these charges further against the evidence that has resurfaced over the last decade.

With maps and photos, this dramatic narrative focuses on the destruction of the ship, the nature of patriotism and heroism, the betrayal of an individual by a powerful institution.

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Editorial Reviews

Record (New Jersey)
[Abandon Ship] is in able hands with reader Kevin Conway, whose briny baritone is reminiscent of an old salt telling a woeful tale.
Record New Jersey
[Abandon Ship] is in able hands with reader Kevin Conway, whose briny baritone is reminiscent of an old salt telling a woeful tale.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In the mid-1990s, 11-year-old Hunter Scott, working on a project for a state history fair at his Florida school, began delving into an old WWII naval tragedy he had learned about by chance--the destruction of the heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis, which sank in only 12 minutes after being hit by a torpedo fired by a Japanese submarine. Hundreds of sailors died. The navy blamed the ship's captain, Charles Butler McVay III, charging that he failed to issue a timely warning to abandon his fast-sinking ship. The beleaguered McVay became the only commander ever court-martialed by the U.S. Navy for losing his vessel in wartime; despondent for years afterward, he eventually killed himself. The story of the Indianapolis and of the subsequent punishment of McVay, was the subject of this 1958 book by Associated Press editor Richard F. Newcomb (Iwo Jima, etc.), which spent 18 weeks on bestseller lists. Now, thanks in large part to the efforts of Scott, additional information has emerged to shed light on the sad saga of the Indianapolis, explicated in a foreword and afterword to this reissue by investigative journalist Maas (Serpico). The result is an even more compelling look at this long-ago tragedy, one that could lead to the exoneration of McVay. Photos not seen by PW. (Jan.) Forecast: Hunter Scott's sleuthing has received a lot of media attention, which will certainly be highlighted by Harper when the book is released. Young readers will be inspired by Scott's determination (though discretion should obviously be exercised regarding McVay's plight), and any reader interested in WWII will want a chance to weigh the evidence. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060959210
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
11/12/2002
Series:
Harper Perennial Series
Edition description:
First Perennial Series
Pages:
368
Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.82(d)

Meet the Author

Richard F. Newcomb served as a wartime naval correspondent during World War II and received a Purple Heart. He is a retired news editor of the Associated Press and the author of six books, including Savo, and Iwo Jima.. He lives in Palm Coast, Florida.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Lieutenant Commander Mochitsura Hashimoto of the Imperial Japanese Navy, was not a happy man. A war that had started out so gloriously -- both for him and for the Empire -- was turning out disastrously. Even the opportunity of dying for the Emperor had been denied him, and he felt a sense of unworthiness.

His personal affairs might be said to have gone very well. He had advanced steadily in rank, he was happily married, and his wife had given him three fine sons. At thirty-six he was in command of one of the newest and finest submarines in the navy-in fact, one of the few still operating. If only he could have a chance to serve...

His chance was coming, very soon, and it would find him well prepared. Hashimoto was born in 1909 in the quiet and beautiful shrine city of Kyoto, ancient capital of Japan for nearly eleven centuries. He was the eighth child and the fifth and last son of a high Shinto priest.

Mochitsura did well in his studies, and while he was in the Third High School in Kyoto, one of the best in Japan, his father began to think of entering him for the Japanese Naval Academy. The family was not particularly naval-minded, but there was the question of money.

The income of a chief priest of an important Shinto shrine, even with the government subsidy granted to priests of the State religion, was barely enough when nine children had to be provided for. And the military was a respected tradition, providing education at government expense and promising a good future for those who qualified.

Mochitsura was graduated from high school in 1927. He was eighteen, still something of a country boy, but self-possessed andrespectful, though not servile. He seemed well-fitted for the navy, which, as in some other countries, considered itself just a little superior to the army. The Japanese Navy, though young, already had a tradition. The sea was Japan's life, and nobody in the crowded islands lived more than a hundred miles from it.

Leaving home for the first time, young Hashimoto entered the Naval Academy in 1927. His oldest brother had already graduated from the national military academy and was now on active duty with the Japanese Army. The Naval Academy was located on Eta Jima, an island in Hiroshima Bay a few miles west of the great naval base of Kure, on the Inland Sea. Here for the next four years Mochitsura got the rough edges knocked off. He studied the history of Japan and the navy, engineering, and naval tactics. He also spent much time in judo and other military-style athletics.

Hashimoto was graduated in 1931, at the opening of an era. It was the dawn of Japan's Greater Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. There may have been a depression in America but there was work for every hand in Japan. The Japanese Army overran Manchuria, launched the war in China, and made plans for still greater conquests. Hashimoto had his first assignment in submarines in 1934, followed by duty in destroyers and subchasers in China waters. In 1937 two things happened: Hashimoto's oldest brother, a full colonel, was killed in the fighting in North China, and Hashimoto married Miss Nobuko Miki, daughter of a well-to-do Osaka businessman. The following year Hashimoto was chosen for Navy Torpedo School and, in 1939, for Submarine School. In 1940, a great event occurred in the Hashimoto household. His first child, a son, Michihiro, was born. Remembering his own happy childhood in a large family, Hashimoto hoped for more.

By early 1941, it was clear that a crisis with the United States was approaching. Hashimoto of course knew nothing of the grand strategy being planned, but he sensed that great things were coming, and he felt ready. At thirty-two he was sturdy and well-built, his muscles hard and his mind keen. Like any good submarine man, he looked forward to his own command some day, and with events obviously shaping up, the future looked bright.

Right now, he was assigned to the 1-24, a new submarine, as torpedo officer. At Kure, the 1-24 was formed into a squadron with four other new boats, and during the summer and fall they practiced maneuvers with a group of midget subs. On November 18, under sealed orders, the squadron sailed from Kure, a midget sub clamped to the afterdeck of each vessel. The night before, Admiral Chiuchi Nagumo, Commander of the Pearl Harbor Striking Force, had quietly slipped out to sea in his flagship, the carrier Aragi, and headed for a rendezvous with powerful units in the Kuriles. Mighty things were brewing.

The 1-24 moved steadily eastward, and on Saturday night, December 6, boldly surfaced ten miles off Waikiki. The skipper, Lieutenant Commander Hiroshi Hanabusa, led the way to the deck and the excited crew could see the glare of neon lights on the horizon, as Waikiki enjoyed its last carefree moments. Down below, Hashimoto tuned in radio station KGMB and enjoyed the Hawaiian music. Sublieutenant Kazuo Sakamaki went through his final ritual, for he was to ride one of the midget submarines with Seaman First Class Kyoji Inagaki as his crewman. The ritual over, including a visit to the Shinto shrine on board, they were cast off at 5:30 A.M.

In the waters nearby there were twenty-seven other Japanese submarines, several of them, like the 1-24, engaged in launching midgets. It was the last the I-24 ever saw of Sakamaki, but not the last of Sakamaki. Two days later he was found, exhausted but alive, on the beach near Bellows Field. It was his great dishonor to be one of the first, and the few, Japanese prisoners ever taken. His midget was nearby, hung up on a reef, but Inagaki's body was never found.

Abandon Ship!. Copyright � by Richard Newcomb. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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