a way is found to exonerate Captain McVay... a black mark
could stain the honor of the Navy long after his name is engraved
in naval lore as a victim not only of the Navy's worst sea
disaster, but possibly its worst moral disaster as well."
From testimony of Dan Kurzman, author of "Fatal Voyage"
(1990), at September 1999 Senate hearing.
web site was first established in March of 1998 for three
purposes. First, to tell the incredible and tragic story of
the USS Indianapolis, its contribution to American
history, its sinking on July 30, 1945, and the ordeal of the
316 men who survived in a shark-infested sea for days without
food or water until spotted by chance because, when the ship
failed to arrive on schedule, it went unnoticed by the Navy.
Second, to tell the story of the shameful court-martial and
conviction of the ship's captain, Charles Butler McVay III,
an injustice which the survivors have sought for over fifty
years to correct.
And, third, to promote public support for Congressional legislation
which would exonerate Captain McVay.
thanks to the help of many people, including specifically
Hunter Scott, of Pensacola, Florida, and Senator Bob Smith
of New Hampshire, in October of 2000 Congress passed and the
President signed legislation which declares that Captain McVay's
military record should now reflect that he is exonerated for
the loss of the Indianapolis and the lives of the men
who died in that disaster.
The Navy Department strongly opposed this legislation, and
- because both House and Senate have rules which prevent consideration
of any legislation which would alter a military record - Congress
would not consider legislation to erase the conviction from
Captain McVay's military record. Thus, it remains there as
a stain upon the conscience of the Navy.
have urged a presidential pardon for Captain McVay, but their
efforts, while well-intentioned, were misdirected. Such a
pardon would not remove the conviction from Captain McVay's
record. It would only exempt him from punishment, and that
had already happened. Captain McVay was, in effect, pardoned
in 1946 when Admiral Nimitz (who had opposed his court-martial
in the first place) took over as Chief of Naval Operations
and immediately remitted his sentence and restored him to
the final and successful campaign to clear Captain McVay's
name began in 1998, it was learned that Congress - both House
and Senate - have rules which preclude consideration of any
bills which would alter a military record. Thus, it was apparent
from the outset that legislation to erase the conviction from
Captain McVay's record was not possible.
was only possible to have a joint resolution introduced expressing
the sense of Congress that he was not to blame for either
the loss of the ship or the deaths of the 880 crew memebers
who perished. Such a joint resolution was introduced, subsequently
passed by Congress, and signed into law as part of the National
Defense Authorization Act of 2001. After that, Senator Smith
of New Hampshire persuaded the Secretary of the Navy to amend
Captain McVay's record to coincide with the views of Congress.
was an amazing victory. To see how it happened, you can move
to the section entitled "Seeking