Indianapolis, IN

The Horrifying Story of How Hundreds of Sharks Circled the Survivors of the USS Indianapolis

Yana Bostongirl

The deadliest mass shart attack in human history occurred in 1945 when the USS Indianapolis, an American warship, was torpedoed and sunk by a Japanese submarine. This disaster is known as the greatest loss of life at sea from a single ship in the history of the US Navy due to the fact that only 316 out of a crew of 1136 sailors managed to survive their horrifying ordeal at sea.

Following the delivery of its top-secret cargo at Tinian, later revealed to be parts of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, the USS Indianapolis was continuing on its way to the Philippines when it was torpedoed. Per reports, the ship sunk within minutes taking 300 men with it. The remaining 900 men found themselves cast adrift in the open ocean with nothing more than a few lifeboats and pieces of debris to cling to.

Due to miscommunication, the ship was not reported missing when it failed to arrive in the Philippines and it was only four days later that a naval airplane chanced upon the stranded survivors.

During that time many of the sailors succumbed to injuries, dehydration, hypernatremia, hypothermia, and shark attacks. Attracted by the noise and commotion, oceanic whitetip sharks and tiger sharks began to converge on the dead and the dying. The blood in the water attracted yet more sharks until the waters around the sailors were teeming with dorsal fins.

Here is an excerpt from an article published on History Hit that describes the horrific attacks: "Survivors recalled the “blood-curdling” screams of people being attacked by sharks. One survivor, Woody James, later said, “everything would be quiet and then you’d hear somebody scream and you knew a shark had got him.”

According to Wikipedia, even though three stations received distress signals from the USS Indianapolis, none responded. One commander was drunk, another had ordered his men not to disturb him, and a third thought it was a Japanese trap.

Comments / 94

Published by


Boston, MA

More from Yana Bostongirl

Comments / 0