Shannon Cheston

Do you think the Navy was negligent?

Fred I spent 36 years in commercial nuclear power generation. A basic concept for safety used throughout the industry is "defense in depth." When the decision was made not to provide the Indy with an escort, compensatory measures should have been implemented to ensure that communication was maintained with the ship AND that there was a heightened alertness toward its expected time of arrival. The actual sinking was probably unavoidable. The book makes it sound like the Japanese sub essentially came across the Indy in a stroke of luck. But the fact that it took so long to discover the sinking and respond was due to recklessness bordering on negligence. Inexcusable that the post-tragedy inquest focused more on the sinking of a ship, as an act of war, than on the details of the botched communications that led to the delay in response.
Jay I can understand why and how the Navy took the precautions that it did, but it’s very hard for me to justify many of the cascading failures that occured, especially once the ship failed to arrive at port. One would imagine the failure of a ship to report in or arrive at its’ destination on time would have been given an extraordinarily high alert status given we were at war.

I realize that the technology today would make this kind of disaster nearly impossible to repeat, but still…it’s hard to justify the fact that a ship with critical cargo wasn’t searched for within 18 hours of it’s scheduled arrival time/date. The survivors were extraordinarily lucky (for most people).
Dave Yes. In my mind's eye, without a doubt. Political concerns trumped human concerns. take 50 plus years to more towards that in fact caused yet more loss of life.
Ross Rawnsley I think although the actual disaster was unavoidable (contrary to what the Navy brass thought), The Navy's response was negligent.

That said, like most disasters throughout history, it was a number of mistakes or miscommunications which made it much worse than it should have been.
William Brown The negligence lies with whoever wrote the ambiguous orders as well as the entire chain that failed to communicate vital info to McVay and that failed to report the missing ship. If a court marshal or enquiry was to occur that should have been a major target. This episode was a sad case of bureaucratic incompetence. Captain McVay was made a scapegoat and this noble hero was sacrificed so his superiors could save face. That's how I see it.
Jph12 I don't. There were good reasons for each of the policies in place that combined for the disastrous result of the Indianapolis's sinking and the delayed rescue. The biggest factor in the delayed rescue wasn't actually a policy--it was the misunderstanding of the Navy's order not to report the arrival of combat ships. Had the order been properly understood, it's likely that the rescue efforts would have begun that same day and many more sailors would have survived. But a sailor misunderstanding an order is unlikely to rise to the level of negligence.
Conor Negligence would imply there wasn't a deliberate policy of not giving away to the Japanese that they could decipher their codes. This was the main factor leading to the disaster. Without that policy the Indy might well have had an escort.

That said, other events and mistakes made around the event (before and after) were probably negligent.
Pat Bateman The Navy was negligent, perhaps even reckless in its handling of information and communication that ultimately was a causal factor in this tragedy.

A times I thought I was reading a satire like Catch 22, because the handling of information was so grossly inept. For instance, one high ranking official dismissed the distress signal from the Indianapolis because the Indianapolis failed to confirm the distress signal. Did anyone stop to think that a vessel in distress may not be in a position to fire off a reply; I mean, they are in distress after all.

To top it all off, the Navy, in an effort to deflect blame, court-martials Captain McVay, charging him with not zig-zagging and also not abandoning ship quickly enough (the ship sank in 12 minutes). Typical government corruption and bureaucracy.

This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Jim Absolutely negligent.
Michael Most definitely
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