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"Unless 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.


This 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.

Happily, 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.

Initially, some 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 duty.

When 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.

It 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.

It was an amazing victory. To see how it happened, you can move to the section entitled "Seeking Justice."