♪♪ -USS Indianapolis -- a proud warship with a distinguished battle record.
-It was the quarterback of the Fifth Fleet.
-They called it the Indy, and it played a crucial role in the climactic events of World War II.
-And they tell him, "Every day we cut off transporting this package is a day that's cut off the war."
-In 1945, Indy's legacy would turn tragic when enemy torpedoes sent it to the bottom and 900 survivors drifted for days in shark-infested waters... -You could hear the shipmates screaming for help, and you really couldn't tell where the screaming was coming from.
-...while the Navy lost track of them.
-We didn't show.
No one's looking for us.
-This is a story about young men at their best and the sea at its worst.
-Now a team of undersea explorers uses advanced technology to search for the ship.
-We need to talk about the best probable position for the sinking.
Where is that spot?
-Indianapolis is no longer lost at sea.
[ Applause ] -Extraordinary images reveal Indianapolis as they found it 3 1/2 miles down.
-For those who served and suffered, it's a chance to heal old wounds... -This is hallowed ground for them.
-...and to honor lost comrades.
-I want to keep the story alive.
♪♪ ♪♪ -November 1968.
Charles Butler McVay III is tortured by memories of his lost ship and his lost crewmen.
-"Dear Captain McVay..." -"I hope you're having a merry Christmas.
We would be, too, if you hadn't killed my son."
-"My son would be alive today."
-"Yours truly..." -After 23 years, their families still blame him, and he blames himself.
He was a respected commander with a spotless record, his ship one of the Navy's finest.
All that changed within minutes as the fortunes of ship, captain, and crew took a tragic turn.
The sinking of USS Indianapolis would be remembered as one of the darkest episodes of the war.
♪♪ ♪♪ Decades after Indianapolis disappeared, the crew of another ship is determined to find its remains and finally put to rest the painful memories of its loss.
They're aboard the research vessel Petrel.
Built to support oil and gas exploration, Petrel was purchased in 2016 by philanthropist Paul Allen and refitted to search for lost shipwrecks.
The expedition director is Rob Kraft.
-Petrel and her capabilities are dedicated solely to searching in very deep water and looking for very specific large targets, archaeological sites.
-But this particular target presents tremendous challenges.
Others have searched for Indianapolis and failed.
It sank in some of the deepest waters on the planet, and no one knows exactly where.
♪♪ Indianapolis may be an elusive target, but it's also a big one.
The ship was 600 feet long, the length of two football fields.
Commissioned in 1932, the Indy was one of a new class of heavy cruisers, fast, sleek, and bristling with armament.
It was designed as a floating gun platform with three mounts of giant 8-inch guns that could hurl projectiles up to 17 miles.
For defense, it was armed with more than 40 antiaircraft guns.
[ Gunfire ] A trio of floatplanes equipped with pontoons served as scouts and long-range spotters.
♪♪ -When they built the heavy cruisers, they had two missions in mind.
First one was those big guns, but the second mission was, they were built as command and control ships, so they had large flag officer quarters, admiral's quarters on board.
Before the war, it was actually President Roosevelt who used it as his ship of state.
During World War II, it became Admiral Spruance's flagship for the Fifth Fleet.
-Bill Toti was the captain of another USS Indianapolis, a nuclear submarine.
He feels a special connection to the original Indy, and he's proud of its record in war.
-It responded immediately as part of the task force that went out looking for the Japanese fleet that had attacked Pearl Harbor.
-The reputation of the Indianapolis within the Navy was impeccable.
It was, if you will, the quarterback of the Fifth Fleet.
It was a real place of pride in the Navy.
-It's a very storied history that is unfortunately overshadowed by, you know, the worst 12 minutes of her service.
♪♪ -I was in the Marine Corps, and after boot camp in San Diego, they sent me up to San Francisco, and there was the big USS Indianapolis, you know, and you could imagine what a country boy thought when he saw that.
200 yards long, you know, and that was to be my home for the duration of the war.
-I couldn't believe the size of her.
I've seen a lot of boats in my time but nothing with all the armaments she had.
It was an experience for me, being born back in the woods of Michigan and coming out to all this activity.
It was really, really something.
-Indy and its crew fought their way across the Pacific, earning 10 battle stars.
-Tarawa, then the Marshalls, the Marianas, the Gilberts, Saipan... -Sea battle, the Philippine Seas... -...Tinian, Guam.
-In late 1944, a new captain took Indy's helm.
This was his first major command, but he seemed born to lead.
-Charles Butler McVay came from a long line of naval officers and was a captain on the rise.
-Third-generation Navy, second-generation Annapolis.
Father was an admiral.
It was fully expected that Charles Butler McVay III would be an admiral like dear old dad.
-Captain McVay, he was a little strict, but he was one great captain.
-Captain McVay led Indy in the first naval attack on the Japanese Home Islands and supported the Marine landing on Iwo Jima.
The Battle of Okinawa would be a turning point for American forces and for Indianapolis.
-At this point in the war, the Imperial Japanese Navy was relying on teenage boys to fly their airplanes.
There wasn't enough time to train these teenage boys on how to drop bombs, so what they trained them to do instead was fly their airplanes into ships.
Okinawa is where that really started to explode, and so the struggle there was, "Can you shoot down that airplane before it impacts with you?"
♪♪ -Indy's gunners managed to stop half a dozen enemy aircraft, but one made it through, crashing on the main deck.
Its bomb penetrated the ship's armored deck plating and kept going.
-Put a big gaping hole all the way through the ship -- I mean, through the mess hall, through the berthing compartment, through the water-distilling plant, and then it went through the bottom of the ship.
-Nine men died in the attack, but Captain McVay was able to save his ship and prevent greater loss of life.
-It was only very skillful damage control that allowed them to save their ship, and they limped all the way across the Pacific.
They couldn't go faster than about 9 knots on the way back, and they made it.
-Once they reached San Francisco, Indy spent the next three months undergoing repairs and upgrades while a third of the crew was replaced, mostly by sailors who had never seen action.
-We're talking 17-, 18-, 19-year-old boys straight out of boot camp, have never been to sea, have no idea how to sail a ship.
-The guys that I went on board with, they were all kids just out of school, just like me.
-Training this green crew was suddenly cut short when Captain McVay is given a secret mission -- to deliver a mysterious cargo to the far side of the Pacific.
-And so he gets called up to the admiral's office, and he says, "We need you to get across the Pacific as quickly as you can."
And they tell him, "Every day we cut off transporting this package is a day that's cut off the war."
That's all they tell him.
-I was on leave that night.
When I got back to the ship, they were throwing stuff off.
I mean, we were in a big hurry to do something.
-The package consists of two pieces.
One is a large wooden crate, 15 feet by 15 feet.
-Along with the crate comes a strange metal canister just 18 inches high but heavier than lead.
-And they actually weld this down in the flag lieutenant's quarters, and McVay is given these orders -- "If your ship sinks, these need to go into a lifeboat."
[ Laughs ] So he knows whatever it is, it's important.
-All this strikes the crew as very unusual.
They know that something's up, but they have no idea.
-Well, we tried to guess what was in the crate.
Nobody was even close.
-In fact, this canister is filled with uranium-235, and the crate contains the components of an atomic bomb, a weapon so secret that the captain and crew have never even heard of it.
They're bound for Tinian Island, a forward base for American bombers attacking Japan.
-The Manhattan Project folks knew they needed to get this atomic bomb to the Western Pacific so that it could be used.
They needed a fast ship to get it there, and the Indianapolis just happened to be finishing up its repairs at Mare Island.
Serendipity put it at the right place at the right time.
♪♪ -As Indianapolis steams out of San Francisco, McVay doesn't know that a historic event has taken place just hours earlier in New Mexico -- the detonation of the world's first nuclear weapon.
[ Explosion ] -All he knew was he needed to cross the Pacific as quickly as possible, and what they did was, they kept up flank speed all the way to Pearl Harbor.
-When we left San Francisco, we were highballing.
I couldn't believe how fast she was going.
-It was the fastest any ship had ever crossed from California to Hawaii, and that record stands to this day.
They averaged 29 1/2 knots across the Pacific.
-After a stop at Pearl Harbor, Indianapolis arrives at Tinian Island on July 26th to drop off that secret cargo.
-They deliver the atomic bomb, and then their assignment is to go to Guam and get their final assignment to join the Japanese invasion forces.
-Captain McVay is ordered to sail west from Guam to Leyte in the Philippines, 1,300 miles.
-McVay knows that it's been several months since he's been in theater, and the dynamics in the theater have changed.
So he goes up to the operations and the intelligence centers to get briefed up on what's changed since he left, and he gets some intelligence on where the Japanese forces are, and he asks specifically about the submarine threat.
-He's told there is no threat from submarines, and he believes it.
As a former intelligence officer, McVay is well aware that the Allies have cracked the Japanese naval code and should know the whereabouts of enemy ships.
So when the Indy is not assigned an escort for the voyage, he's not too worried.
-He actually didn't think an escort was necessary.
Since he was told there were no submarines to worry about, why would he need an escort?
-McVay's intelligence report mentions only three minor enemy contacts, but intercepted Japanese communications tell a different story.
A squadron of submarines is on patrol in the waters between Guam and Leyte, and American intelligence knows exactly which subs are there.
Nonetheless, the Navy fails to pass on the information.
-So they, in fact, knew that there were four Japanese submarines in the vicinity and had intelligence that there was one actually near the route that the Indianapolis was transiting, and nobody said a thing.
-So basically they are sending us out in harm's way unescorted.
♪♪ -If the crew of Petrel can find Indianapolis, it will lie 6 kilometers, 3 1/2 miles, below the surface.
That's three times deeper than the Grand Canyon.
-People don't realize that the pressure at those depths are, you know, 10,000-plus pounds per square inch, and what we do at those depths become routine for us, but for others, I mean, people will never go there.
-The pressure is enough to cause steel hulls to implode and rupture the wiring and hydraulics on most underwater vehicles.
But Petrel carries a pair of search tools that can operate at those crushing depths.
They're protected by titanium alloy hulls and packed with a molded-glass foam for buoyancy so they can search the seafloor for long periods of time.
[ Beep ] -Dan, you on comms?
-The AUV, or autonomous underwater vehicle, is an untethered drone equipped with side-scan sonar.
-You send it on its way, and 20 hours later, you recover it, download all the data, swap out the batteries, and send it back on its way.
-As the AUV travels along a programmed route, its sonar emits pulses of sound.
Their echoes form an image of the seafloor and make it possible to distinguish human-made objects from the surrounding geology.
If the images reveal an interesting target, Petrel's crew can deploy their ROV, a remotely operated vehicle, tethered to the mother ship by miles of cable.
-The ROV is supplied with power through an umbilical.
We send power down that cable, and that power enables the thrusters to work.
The cameras send their signal up through fiber optics back to the surface, and that's where we distribute it and record it.
It's 6,000-meter capable.
-You can probably count on your hand how many ROVs are currently operating to that depth today, so it's very rare.
All the planning has been done on... -Petrel also carries a team that's expert at locating long-lost artifacts in the deep ocean.
It's right there.
-Paul Mayer has taken the lead on researching Indianapolis's history and its possible location.
Gary Kozak is a sonar specialist.
-Back in 2000, everything seemed to be in this one area, in this... -Curt Newport has been involved in previous searches, so he's got that experience.
You know, he's also a significant knowledge base on the Indianapolis.
-In 2000, Curt led his own unsuccessful expedition to find Indianapolis, exploring a 1,000-square-mile search area.
This time, he's optimistic they'll have better luck.
-Where we're searching for this ship is a result of a lot of analysis.
There's this one particular area that we think this ship probably sank in.
-The question is, is our research right?
We think it is, but time will tell.
-That's where the attack was.
That's... -The Petrel itself and its capabilities and the assets we've got and the research we've done are the culmination of, you know, two years' worth of hard work.
I think we got a great chance of finding this.
♪♪ [ Beeping ] ♪♪ -Indianapolis sailed out of Guam nearly 36 hours ago.
The night is cloudy.
Visibility is low.
Captain McVay retires to his quarters at 8:00 p.m. after giving orders to pick up speed.
He's eager to reach Leyte by Tuesday morning for target practice.
Around midnight, conditions change just for a few minutes, and someone is watching from an enemy submarine.
-The sky does open.
The moon does come out.
And not far away, Commander Hashimoto of the Japanese navy rises and spots a smudge on the horizon.
-And through the periscope, he gets a pretty good view of the ship that's coming towards him in such a way that it's going to put him in a perfect firing position.
-Mochitsura Hashimoto has commanded submarines for three years, but he has not yet scored a kill.
Now he has a chance to redeem himself.
-And then, as the ship gets closer, he realizes there is no escort.
He cannot believe his luck.
♪♪ [ Torpedoes firing ] -Hashimoto fires several torpedoes.
We know at least two hit the starboard side.
♪♪ -The first torpedo hits the bow of the ship, allowing all the water to flood inside.
The second torpedo hits the forward boiler rooms, shuts down three of the four engines, but the fourth engine is still turning.
With that screw driving the ship forward, that was pushing even more water in and causing the flooding to accelerate.
-It's ingesting water by the ton.
Men are running around dogging hatches, which means they're sealing other men to their fate in order to save and compartmentalize the ship.
It's happening very quickly.
-All electrical power is out.
The only lights that we've got is the infernos below deck.
All of that water is coming in.
The bow is going under.
-Captain McVay was hoping that they just needed to do the same kind of damage control that they had done in Okinawa and that they would survive this event, as well.
It only took a few minutes and a few reports from his officers to convince him, no, this is very, very different, and they were going down.
[ Indistinct shouting ] -"Abandon ship!
You could hear, and maybe as it got closer, boys are repeating, "Abandon ship!"
-When it give that big list, I know the ship is going down.
Then somebody hollered, "Erwin, you better get off."
That's when I run down the portside and dove in.
-Then by the time I made my way back to the fantail, she was laying over on her side, and the mast was already in the water.
I ran down the side of the ship to the quarterdeck, and that's where I went off.
I was still 30, 40 feet off the water.
When I hit the water, somebody hit me, drove me down.
-I just started swimming as fast as I could to get away from the ship and turned around, and I just saw the fantail going down with shipmates still jumping off of it.
-There was guys still coming off, like ants on a stick, and she was straight up in the air.
-Everyone was looking out into maybe what is the end of life.
Hell, I'm praying, and I tell the Lord, "I don't want to die."
-This warship that had lived through 10 great battles during the war is suddenly now, in 12 minutes, sinking in some of the deepest ocean on Earth.
-I looked back another few minutes later.
She was gone.
-Captain McVay is among the last to leave the ship moments before it sinks.
900 sailors and Marines are adrift in the Philippine Sea 650 miles from the nearest land.
♪♪ ♪♪ The Petrel team has just begun to look for the remains of Indianapolis.
-We need to talk about where we think the best probable position is for the sinking, and with that, then we can determine our search areas.
We'll have a primary, a secondary, a... -Exactly where in this featureless sea should they begin?
There is no easy answer.
-But they talked about 12-foot seas, you know?
-All the paperwork is lost, so basically we have nothing but the recollections of the survivors.
When Captain McVay was picked up, first thing he said, "We were exactly as routed."
But we don't have any of the supporting historical documents.
Their deck logs were gone.
All their records were gone.
So it was really an imprecise location at the beginning.
-Based on Captain McVay's own account of the sinking, the Navy determined an approximate position along the ship's assigned route between Guam and the Philippines, known in the Navy as the Peddie Route.
That's where Curt Newport began his own unsuccessful search.
-Captain McVay was in the water for four days, so I think anyone, including Captain McVay, you know, coming out of the water after that would not be a trustworthy source for where he was.
-There is something they can pinpoint with relative certainty -- the places where the survivors were first spotted and where they were picked up.
-So this is to the middle of the survivor area on the third, and then you go four days to the... -The men were widely scattered in at least six separate groups, and they drifted in different directions during their time in the water.
So working backwards from their various locations to the site of the sinking involves a lot of calculations and some guesswork.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has data on the normal currents and winds in the area.
That should make it possible to calculate how far and in what direction the men drifted in the days after their ship went down, at least in theory.
-And if you look at all the logbooks, they're constantly blowing out of the north and northeast, so they should be over here somewhere.
I think we're all in agreement.
Longitude looks pretty good.
It's pretty close, right?
Now we need to try and bracket in latitude.
-There's another piece to this puzzle, a clue that only emerged in 2016.
-The captain, in his oral history right after the sinking, talked about passing an LST the day that they were sunk.
-There were hundreds of LSTs, short for Landing Ship, Tank, transporting vehicles and troops around the Pacific during the latter days of World War II.
To figure out where Indianapolis encountered that LST, you have to know which one it was.
After a lot of digging, Dr. Richard Hulver of the Naval Historical Heritage Command comes up with a possible answer.
-I did what basically any person would do these days.
I went to Google, and I was Googling every version of LST and Indianapolis, and I found a Memorial Day blog that this fudge shop owner had posted about his story his father told him of being on this LST that had passed Indianapolis, supposedly, on her last day.
So I was able to, like, find muster rolls with the sailor on there, Sure enough, he was a passenger on LST-779.
I went to the National Archives.
I pulled the logbooks for 779, and Indianapolis was supposed to have passed LST-779 around 1300, so about 11 hours before Indianapolis was sunk.
Their noon coordinate was slightly south of Route Peddie, so it sort of gives us an idea that Indianapolis might not have been directly on Peddie but probably a little south and a little further ahead of schedule.
-So joining both the LST information with the survivor-pickup information and the current information gives us a much better point and direction on where the Indianapolis possibly was.
[ Indistinct talking ] -Putting all the pieces together, Rob Kraft reaches a decision.
They'll look for Indy a little south of the Peddie Route and farther west than the official Navy position.
♪♪ [ Indistinct talking ] [ Beeping ] The crewmen who made it into the water alive do their best to keep together in the darkness, but since Indy was still moving as they abandoned ship, they end up split into several groups of different sizes.
They're scattered along a three-mile line, cut off from each other by the dark pitching seas.
As the hours pass, they continue to drift farther apart.
-[ Coughing ] -Many of the men are gravely injured, suffering from severe burns, broken bones, and lacerations.
Some will not survive the night.
-Nobody knew what to do or how to do it, even the guys that were veterans and been out in the war zone all the whole war.
They never had to go through anything like that.
-As dawn breaks Monday morning, their first day in the water, the survivors can see that they're surrounded by a toxic oil slick stretching in all directions.
-When the torpedo opened up a hole in the ship, one of the things it opened up was the ship's fuel oil tanks, and this kind of oil is called bunker oil.
It was very thick, almost like a syrup.
-That first day, you can imagine.
You've got all of that oil in your eyes.
You've got that salt water.
-There's a lot of oil, and I swallowed some of it.
Didn't take me long to throw it up.
-The men can only hope that they'll be rescued soon.
They don't realize that no one knows Indy is missing.
No one is searching for them.
♪♪ 72 years later, the Petrel team has launched its search for the sunken wreck of Indianapolis.
[ Radio chatter ] -Go!
-Their search area is just over 300 square miles, but that's as large as all five boroughs of New York City, and even a 600-foot warship would be easy to miss.
-When you're trying to find something on the seabed, you use an AUV to do what we call mowing the lawn.
When you mow your lawn, you push your lawn mower down one section of the grass, and you'll come back the opposite way, and you continue that process until the entire lawn is mowed.
Well, we do the same thing in a survey with the AUV.
-Once the AUV has returned to the surface, its data must be analyzed so they can figure out what they've got.
-We downloaded some data as fast as we can.
We bring it into a program to make a map out of it, just stitch it all together in something that a human eye can recognize.
-The AUV has completed its survey of the first search box, a section of about 54 square miles, and so far, they've seen nothing but rocks and sand.
But when they examine images from the second search box, they spot a shape that looks distinctly ship-like.
-So, this particular contact is approximately 60 meters long by about 50 meters wide, so it's certainly not big enough to be the entire ship, but it could be a part of the vessel.
-Right on the edge.
If we wouldn't have done that pass... -Since it's on the edge of the sonar data, we can't see what's beyond it, so we've just got a very small sample of something that could be much larger.
-Very good, first contact to go look at.
-It's an intriguing find but too far from the AUV to get a clear sonar picture.
-We have to go look at it with the ROV.
That's the only way to be absolutely certain of what it is we're seeing on the sonar.
-This is the core of their mission, deploying the ROV to examine a mysterious contact.
But as they unspool the ROV's tether, a winch malfunctions.
♪♪ -We went to survey that target, and upon descending with the ROV, we've got a problem with a winch, so we had to abort the dive, recover back to deck.
♪♪ -Luckily, the ROV, with its cameras and lights, is now safely back in its hangar, but if they can't lower it into the water, the expedition is over.
Despite all their high-end gear, they're facing a problem any auto mechanic would recognize, a misaligned gearbox.
-This gearbox here is all that stands between us and 6,000 meters, the ROV, so if this fails while we're at depth, this is a real problem.
-Hundreds of miles from shore, they try to jury-rig a solution.
Meanwhile, they rely on the AUV to scour the search grid.
♪♪ Five days pass, and they haven't found anything else worth investigating.
-To date, we still only have one really good target of interest.
Everything else, the seabed is pretty much benign, clear of targets.
All we have is geology down there, so... -They'll make another pass on that mysterious target with the AUV's sonar and a new tactic.
-We'll go run high frequency on it, meaning that we'll run shorter range scale, and we'll get lots of looks at this target.
If we had the ROV working right now, it'd be on its way.
Yeah, it's frustrating.
-Soon, they have their answer.
-That is a shipwreck.
-The target is a ship but not Indianapolis.
We need not go any further.
-While we haven't found the Indianapolis, we did find a Japanese ship that was torpedoed and sunk during the Second World War.
If it's the one we think it is, it's called the SS Nanman Maru.
It was torpedoed and sunk in October of 1943.
-All she wrote on the shipwreck.
-All she wrote, man.
-I've found lots of shipwrecks.
So while it's disappointing that it's not the wreck we're looking for, we have cleared another area that we know where the Indianapolis is not, so we will move on with the next area as soon as we get back up on location.
♪♪ [ Beeping ] ♪♪ -It's the survivors' second day in the water, a second day of misery.
-[ Coughing ] -A lot of them have seen rough sea.
The ones that was in good shape try and take care of the ones that were pretty bad.
-One of them was my crew chief, which was -- I kept him for three days.
You know, I brought him up and put him to the side of the raft, and I'd go out and help other ones come up.
-We could see planes up above, but they couldn't see our head.
We was sticking out of the water.
You just keep praying and asking the Lord to help you.
We'd pray every day, every night.
-In the Philippines, Tuesday morning comes and goes, but Indy hasn't arrived at Leyte as scheduled, and no one has noticed.
-During this point in the war, there was thousands of Navy ships in the Pacific, and every time a ship departed or arrived in a port, a message was sent out, and with that many ships, there were so many messages that the messages were just getting ignored, so the Navy changed the procedure and says, "Let's stop sending all these messages, so if a ship departs as scheduled and arrives as scheduled, no message is necessary."
-This young officer interprets that to mean, when he sees the Indianapolis not in its berth on its arrival date, "Oh, therefore, the nonarrival shall also go unreported."
-And so when the Indianapolis failed to arrive, they took its name off the big board and notified nobody that the ship never arrived.
-So they were not looking.
We didn't show.
No one's looking for us.
♪♪ -While the Petrel team works on the ROV's winch, their forced downtime gives them a chance to reconsider their assumptions about where they should search.
-The boat was on a 2-6-2 heading.
You know, she's going almost west.
-They know Captain McVay was following the prescribed Peddie Route from Guam to the Philippines.
-She was hit by these two torpedoes.
-But with no logbook, it's hard to be certain where the ship would be at any given point in time.
-A route's kind of a guideline, and you kind of need to think of it as a loose set of blueprints for a captain.
Really, he's only responsible for reporting anything if he's going to be three hours overdue or if he's going 40 miles off that track.
-There's a long way between the surface.
-The team has worked hard to factor in a host of data points -- the sighting by the LST, the position reported by the Japanese submarine commander, and the spots where the survivor groups were rescued after drifting for days with the wind and current.
-So we had all this information, and it just wasn't making sense.
We thought we were too far east.
We were uncomfortable with how far east we were.
-After weeks of hunting, they begin to wonder if they've been overthinking it.
-We need to go look at the other side.
-They'll shift to a new search box farther west and closer to where they began.
-Yeah, we've got to have a really good look at that.
-With the winch finally repaired, Petrel heads to the new search location.
♪♪ [ Beeping ] ♪♪ As the men of Indianapolis face their third day in the water, their situation is growing more dire.
Most of the men are being kept afloat by kapok life jackets.
The jackets are filled with plant fibers sealed in waterproof pockets.
There's a limit to how long they remain buoyant.
-Now a life jacket is designed maybe for two days, but two days are gone now.
Now the third day at noon, they're so waterlogged that they will hardly hold your head out of the water.
-It's gonna start dragging you down.
I tried to get it off, but I couldn't untie the knots because my fingers start peeling away.
The skin starts coming off.
-During the day, the men bake under an equatorial sun.
-I kicked all my clothes off except my socks, and then I'd take the socks and put them over my eyes for the glare of the sun in the daytime and the saltwater.
It was real bad on your eyes.
-Once the sun sets, they face the opposite problem.
-At night, it's 85-degree water, and that body temperature, it's beginning to drop, and about a degree every hour, it's dropping, and they say if it hits that 85, it's too late.
Hypothermia sets in.
-The ordeal of Indy's crew would remain largely unknown for decades, a dark secret borne mostly in silence by the men who survived, but it would enter the popular imagination in the 1970s... -You were on the Indianapolis?
-...thanks to Hollywood.
-Didn't see the first shark for about a half an hour, tiger, 13-footer.
You know how you know that when you're in the water, Chief?
You tell by looking from the dorsal to the tail.
-The presence of sharks have become very much a focus of public attention.
I think a lot of that has to do with the "Jaws" movie.
It's great that it introduces people to the Indianapolis, but that's often where they stop.
-The Philippine Sea is home to half a dozen species of sharks, some of them highly aggressive, including oceanic whitetips and tiger sharks.
These are apex predators.
They maintain the natural balance by getting rid of the weak and injured.
The men are defenseless.
The deadly encounters are random and inescapable.
-There's no way you can hold your legs up out of the way.
I had them hit my legs when they were swimming by, but, you know, after a couple days, you just didn't care no more, you know?
Let them hit it.
What else could you do?
-Twice, the nose of a shark was poking me in my life jacket.
In other words, that shark's eyeballs and my eyeballs are about this far apart.
Why that shark didn't take me, I've been thinking about it for 72 years.
-Scientists will say that it's not likely that the sharks actually killed many people.
It's possible that most of the shark feeding was on corpses, on people who are already dead.
I do believe that, over the years, the number of fatalities has been kind of exaggerated somewhat, but that doesn't make them any less real for those who experienced and witnessed them.
-You could see them all day long.
But at night when it'd get a little darker, you'd hear the shipmates screaming for help, and you really couldn't tell where the screaming was coming from.
-You'd hear a bloodcurdling scream, and you'd look.
Then all of that blood, shark, shark, shark.
You dare not to go and to check to see who your buddy might have been.
-I don't usually talk about that.
It was just too bad to even remember.
♪♪ -Indy's survivors are not only dying from shark attacks and infected wounds, they're also tormented by hunger, and they're suffering from severe dehydration, surrounded by water they cannot drink.
-You'd get so, so thirsty.
You'd want a drink, and I'd get it up, and then I'd spit it back out.
-Many of the men have given in to their craving with disastrous results.
-What you have is this kind of physiological apocalypse that happens.
First, their eyes begin to swell.
Their cells begin to swell because they're ingesting salt water.
The edema then begins to affect their heart rate and their lungs.
That begins to affect their thinking.
-You see some sailor drinking the salt water.
Within the hour, he doesn't know straight up.
-The guys start hallucinating and swimming off.
-They'd start to take off their life jackets, start swimming.
First thing you know, they gone down, and you wouldn't see them no more.
-It's much easier to die than it is to live.
You've got to struggle out there to live, but all you have to do to die is just give up.
-I think that a lot of the folks with better physical stamina, strength, swimming ability, the folks you would've bet on were going to survive failed to do so.
You've got to be able to convince yourself that you're going to be rescued when all logical elements of your brain tell you that all hope is lost, and a lot of times, that was the young and naive sailors who didn't know enough to be desperate.
-Every time I was ready to give up, there was my dad's face there.
He brought me home, no doubt about it, because every time I'm ready to give up, I could feel the grip of my hand, and I'd see Dad's face.
-It wasn't that I was a Marine or a good swimmer.
A higher power was watching over me.
♪♪ [ Beeping ] -[ Coughing ] -After four days in the water, the survivors' numbers are dwindling.
Hope is giving way to hopelessness.
-We kept saying, "They'll come.
But they never did get the right message, and they would've never come.
-When you'd see a plane fly over, then you'd say, "Well, they're not going to find us."
-You could see them at night with the lights.
You know, there were lights flickering up there on top and everything.
-[ Coughing ] -We'd keep waiting, waiting.
No help would come, no help at all.
-On August 2nd, another plane passes high overhead.
It's a Navy PV-1 Ventura bomber looking for enemy ships.
The pilot, Lieutenant Chuck Gwinn, spots oil on the water and decides to investigate.
-And he thinks, "Well, I've just spotted some type of enemy craft.
You know, maybe I need to go down and finish this off."
He's coming in.
We didn't know, but he had his bombs loaded."
-As he drops down, he sees all these coconuts floating in the water, and as he gets closer, the coconuts start waving.
-Everybody started waving their hands, and he sort of dipped his wings, and then he's gone a little bit, come back and done it again.
We knew that he saw us.
-One in 10 million we were even discovered.
It wasn't that routine flight or him taking a second look, nobody would've survived, nobody.
-Gwinn ascends so he can get a radio message off to his base in Peleliu.
-And he goes back up to announce ducks on the pond.
No one knows anything.
-As people are wondering, "Okay.
What is it?
Who hasn't arrived?"
that missing berth in the Philippines where that officer had not reported the nonarrival quickly becomes clear that's where the Indianapolis should be.
♪♪ -Petrel and its crew have spent 25 days at sea since they started this expedition.
So far, the AUV has produced 34 contacts, sonar echoes of objects that warrant further investigation.
Almost every one has turned out to be a geological feature or a glitch in the sonar data.
Now they shift focus to the far western edge of their search grid, square 18.
Here, at a depth of 5,500 meters, 18,000 feet, the AUV detects its 35th contact, an object that doesn't match the surrounding geology.
-It was early in the morning, and one of the guys, the lead on the shift, calls me and says, "Rob, you may want to come down and take a look at this.
I'm not sure what it is."
What do you got?
I gather myself together, and I go down into the control room, and I looked at it, and I immediately knew we had a shipwreck that had a lot of debris indicative of massive destruction.
Let's reprogram for a high-definition HF run and...
I couldn't get the ROV down to the bottom fast enough.
[ Radio chatter ] ♪♪ -Wait.
50, 10, 23, 12.
20 would be 18 meters.
So look at -- I mean, that's a really strong target we've got in sonar coming in 20, 25, 20 meters ahead.
-That's in front of us.
♪♪ -Oh, sonic visual coming in top left.
That's rather large.
-That's the bow, isn't it?
-Let's hold here.
-The ROV's cameras reveal the bow of a ship lying on its side, broken off in some catastrophic event.
And then they spot a clue.
-See that star on top of the -- -Yes.
-Is that a capstan, do you think?
-A faded star on the capstan used to raise the anchor.
-At that point, we're scrambling.
We've got our books and the literature open, and we're looking at pictures, and we turned open a page, and we saw the bow of the Indianapolis in this picture from a refit she did in Mare Island.
And we had the star on top of the capstan.
-Yeah, I don't think there's much question here what we've got.
Look at that.
♪♪ -As the ROV hovers above the bow, they spot a number.
The hull number of Indianapolis, its official Navy I.D., was CA-35.
-Oh, there it is.
Yeah, we've got it.
-That's it, Paul, the Indy.
It doesn't get any more definitive than that.
[ Applause ] ♪♪ -As soon as we saw that 35, it was just -- It was an amazing experience.
-The legendary ship has eluded search efforts for so long.
Now its location is no longer a mystery.
There are eyes on Indianapolis for the first time in 72 years.
As the team surveys the surrounding seafloor, the rest of Indianapolis comes into view, separated from the bow by just over a mile.
-That looks like a crow's nest right there, right?
-There we go.
-That's the bridge.
-Sonar imagery reveals the entire debris field.
Besides the bow and the main part of the hull, there are hundreds of pieces scattered across a square mile of seafloor.
They came to rest where they drifted to the bottom after falling away from the stricken warship.
♪♪ This deep-sea environment is bitterly cold and devoid of oxygen.
That has left the ship's remains in a remarkable state of preservation.
Even its teak decking is still in place.
-I'm amazed at the condition of the ship.
I mean, no corrosion.
-Not a lot.
-Indy's three massive 8-inch gun mounts were held in place by gravity.
It appears that two of them simply dropped out as the ship sank to the bottom, leaving their surrounding barbettes empty.
That's normal when a warship capsizes.
Curiously, gun mount number three is still seated in its barbette.
Its trio of 36-foot barrels still look ready for battle.
-That is a big gun.
-That is a big gun, isn't it?
-Much of the rest of Indy's armament also seems to be intact.
-The first one's a 40-millimeter, and the forward one would be 20-millimeter.
-Is that the 5-inch?
-Yeah, that'll be a 5-inch gun there.
Oh, there you go.
Look at that.
-There we go.
-5-inch antiaircraft shells still gleam, lined up perfectly inside an ammo box.
Japanese flags on Indy's victory tally attest to the number of enemy ships and planes her gun crews destroyed.
♪♪ The crane for Indy's scout planes is located off in the debris field.
-The crane was used to lift the aircraft in and out of the water and to move them on deck.
So, yeah, so there's the hangar deck.
-One of the plane's hangars is still in place.
This could be the hangar that once sheltered the atomic bomb.
♪♪ All around are reminders of Indy's violent end.
Where the first torpedo struck the ship, there is now a void in the hull.
-There's no ship up there forward of that barbette, really, is there?
-Further aft, the spot where the second torpedo hit is clearly visible.
-Frame 53 -- torpedo damage.
Yeah, that's really good.
You can see that.
♪♪ -Rob Kraft and Paul Allen are eager to announce their find to the public, but first, they notify the ship's few remaining survivors.
-I thought it was wonderful because that's a tomb of maybe 300 or 400 men.
-Here I am at 92, and I thought they never would find the ship, and I always wanted to know exactly what happened to the ship.
-The reason I was so glad about it is, we finally had a resting place for the families that didn't know where their kids were.
They finally got a place where they can call a burial for their kids.
♪♪ [ Beeping ] -Navy pilot Chuck Gwinn has spotted the Indy survivors from the air and sent an alert up the chain of command.
Running low on fuel, he returns to base as another pilot rushes to the location he called in.
Lieutenant Adrian Marks soon arrives in a PBY Catalina, a seaplane.
-He and the crew, they looked down, and they could see sharks attacking boys, and so he decided that he was going to land, and the crew said, "We'll back you.
We have to land."
-Against all orders and against all common sense, he lands his Catalina in heavy seas, nearly busting it apart, and they begin to pull them aboard, and Dr. Haynes is pulled aboard, and he says, "Who are you?"
Says, "We are the Indianapolis.
We have been lost."
-He taxied around till they got about 20 in their fuselage.
Then they cut the propellers off, the engines off.
They put us on the plane wings, tied us down with parachutes.
-What commences after that is one of the largest rescues at sea during the war involving 11 aircraft and 11 ships.
♪♪ They begin pulling guys aboard and taking them down below and scrubbing the oil off of them.
They're covered in oil, and many of them are talking incoherently or they're obviously in shock.
-We had to climb, those as were able, climb a Jacob's ladder to get on there, and then a couple of corpsmen would hose you up and try to get some of that oil off of you, scrub you down, and then the people on the USS Doyle was nice to us.
They'd give us their bunks.
-When I hit the deck of the Bassett, I passed out.
I woke up once, and there was somebody messing with my eyes, and I grabbed his arm, and he said, "That's okay, sailor."
He was cleaning the oil out of my eyes with some cotton or something.
Then I passed out again.
I never woke up again for another couple days.
-Captain McVay and eight others are among the last to be rescued.
They're plucked off their raft at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, August 3rd, after nearly five days in the water.
Exposure to fuel oil and seawater has left the men in bad physical shape.
-The salt water is an acid bath, essentially, and so it softened their skin, and so sometimes when they pull them up, some parts of their skin come off.
-I'm just rottening away, you know?
The flesh is just coming off.
-The ship picked up 96 survivors.
One died on the way to the hospital, and five of us died after we got there.
-Finally, they're all collected and put on hospital ships and then brought back to different hospitals and convalesced and, amazingly, within, say, one week, two weeks, eating ice cream and hamburgers.
They're playing volleyball, which just tells you that this is America's youth, and they've survived the war, and they're ready to get out of there.
That's for sure.
-In the end, just 316 men survived the ordeal out of 1,195 who were aboard.
♪♪ Days after the rescue, the Navy acknowledges that the ship might have been saved if it had not been sailing alone.
But it's too late for McVay and his crew, and in any event, the war is nearly over.
On August 6th, the Japanese city of Hiroshima is destroyed by the same atomic bomb that was delivered to Tinian Island by Indianapolis.
But the Navy is not ready to go public with news of the sinking.
-The Navy has to piece together who exactly was on the ship, who's missing, and then they have to go through the process of sending out 880 condolence letters.
-"I regret to inform you that..." -So that all takes quite a bit of time.
They were actually trying to do the right thing and make sure that families had time to know what had happened to their loved ones before they read it in the newspaper.
-Two weeks after the rescue, the tragedy is finally revealed to the public, on the same day as the Japanese surrender.
-So you had these wonderful headlines in the newspapers -- "Japan Surrenders," and below the fold, "USS Indianapolis Sunk, 100% casualties, 880 Sailors Lost."
And so the great news was modulated by the worst single-ship disaster in United States naval history.
And it was clear that they need to figure out why this happened.
-When President Truman's announcement came, the lid really blew off.
-It's a day everyone has long awaited.
[ Cheers and applause ] But for those who lost loved ones in the sinking of Indianapolis, it's a day for grieving.
Earl Henry Sr. was Indy's dentist.
He didn't make it off the ship.
-My mother got the telegram in the morning, about two hours before there was the announcement that Japan had surrendered and that the war was over.
And in the small town where she was, people were driving their cars all around town celebrating, and, of course, my mother was happy the war was over, but it was such a bittersweet thing.
A few weeks later, she went out in public for the first time.
She went to a movie.
Back in those days, they showed newsreels at the movies, and they had a newsreel, and they showed the I-58, the submarine that sank the Indianapolis.
[ Voice breaking ] And she -- she ran screaming out of the... ...out of the theater.
♪♪ It's not a message, but he... -Earl Henry Jr. was only a baby when his father was lost at sea.
-My father was an expert on birds.
One thing my father did on the ship was to entertain with programs, giving the imitations of birdcalls.
We have a recording of my father doing bird calls, and they were just exquisite.
This is special for me because it's the only way I've been able to ever hear my father's voice.
-[ Birdcalls ] -And so you can see how the deck is collapsed.
-To the men who served on Indianapolis, these images from 3 1/2 miles underwater are at once alien and hauntingly familiar.
-You can see the bow there.
-So it was very prominent.
-John Woolston is a retired Navy captain.
In 1945, he was an engineer on board Indianapolis.
There's no doubt about it.
And, of course, I never dreamt that I would be able to see it.
This is a eye-opener, that's for sure.
-Seeing Indy again brings back memories of their last moments on the ship.
-Here, we're on the starboard side of the central bulkhead.
-John Woolston was on duty and damage control just before the torpedoes struck.
-That is the forward part of the area where I was five minutes before.
-I can see the gun real well.
I just fixed my helmet, swung it under the 40-millimeter mount.
I had just laid down my helmet, and the first torpedoes hit.
-The skipper let us sleep out wherever we wanted because it was so hot.
I chose to sleep under number two gun turret.
I took a blanket and a pillow, climbed up on its ledge, and got under the turret.
-I was up sleeping up on the bow by the 8-inch gun, and when it blew, I don't know if I went two feet.
I don't know if I went 20 feet, but I went in the air.
I know that.
-The second torpedo hit right under me and rolled me off the ledge, and I reached for my shoes, and they went over the side.
So I kept going aft, and I got back to the fantail, and there was two kids leaning up against the bulkhead.
One kid was bleeding really bad.
[ Voice breaking ] So, uh...
So they... That still gets me right there.
-The debris field is littered with the sailors' gear and personal items, reminders of their days on board a ship they once called home.
A bowl from the mess hall.
A tube of Williams brand shaving cream.
Also in the debris, remnants of the scout planes that were stored on Indy's deck.
My God, that's what I saw.
Well, I'll be darned.
[ Laughs ] That's a relief for me because I've had it on my mind for 70-some years now.
I'm going to sleep a lot better tonight.
[ Chuckles ] [ Beeping ] -Just 10 days after the rescue, a naval board of inquiries convened to investigate the sinking and find out who was to blame.
The board recommends that Captain McVay face a court-martial, but the Pacific fleet's two top admirals, Spruance and Nimitz, urge that he simply be given a reprimand.
They are overruled by Navy Secretary Forrestal, and a court-martial is scheduled for December.
It is unprecedented.
No other captain of a Navy vessel lost in war has ever been court-martialed before, but this sinking is an unprecedented disaster.
-It's such a calamity.
Newsweek and the newspapers of the day are writing about it and wondering, why have so many young men perished at the end of the war?
So there is this pressure to place blame on McVay.
-McVay himself is neither surprised nor bitter about the Navy's decision.
-When you're the captain of a ship, if a sparrow drops dead on the deck, it's your problem.
And that's how McVay felt, that somehow there might have been something he could have done to prevent this tragedy.
It's almost like he welcomes what's coming.
They only had a couple of days to prepare their defense for court-martial.
His defense counsel asked for additional time.
The court granted one extra day, so that gave them three days to prepare their defense.
-McVay faces two charges -- failure to give the order to abandon ship and hazarding his ship by failing to take preventive measures against submarine attack.
-In order to avoid attack by submarines, surface ships steered what was called a zigzag pattern.
It involved random maneuvers around their base course so that a submarine could not predict where they would be going.
-In fact, McVay was never told that submarines were patrolling in the area, and his orders specified that zigzagging was at the discretion of the commanding officer.
-That's something that was completely in his discretion, and if he felt that the weather conditions did not merit zigzagging, he didn't have to.
-Since a zigzag route slows down a ship's rate of advance and McVay wanted to reach Leyte on schedule, he did what most captains would do to make up for lost time.
He stopped zigzagging at night if skies were cloudy and his ship couldn't be spotted.
-For decades, the Navy insisted that he was not court-martialed for having his ship sunk.
He was court-martialed because he didn't zigzag.
The survivors are saying, "Come on, so if we would have made it to Leyte but we hadn't zigzagged, you would have court-martialed him?"
Of course not.
In point of fact, submarines had long since developed a tactic of spreading a salvo of torpedoes against zigzagging ships.
It almost guaranteed a hit, regardless of whether the ship was zigzagging or not.
-A controversial witness is called to the stand to testify against McVay... -[ Speaking Japanese ] -...Mochitsura Hashimoto, Commander of I-58, whose torpedo sent Indianapolis to the bottom.
-Op-ed pieces were written in almost every major newspaper in the country about how offensive this was, the only time an enemy combatant had ever been called in to testify against an American warrior.
-Never happened before, never.
And the captain told the court, "It's a disgrace to the United States to have me here."
-Hashimoto testifies that, in fact, there was nothing that Captain McVay could have done to evade his firing of the torpedoes.
-I actually took the exact scenario presented by the I-58 and the Indianapolis, and then I modeled different scenarios for the Indianapolis, presuming it zigzagged.
As it turned out, torpedoes number two and three were pretty sure hit.
If you sped up, torpedoes one and two would have hit.
If you'd have slowed down or turned away, torpedoes four or five would have hit, and so...
In every case, at least one torpedo would have hit them.
And sadly, this is not something that they did in McVay's defense during his own court-martial.
-In the end, the court clears McVay of failing to order abandon ship, but he is found guilty of hazarding his vessel by failing to zigzag.
His sentence seems light, a reduction in seniority, putting him farther back in line for promotion.
-It's basically a slap on the wrist, but the fact is, when you're convicted by a court-martial, you are, by point of law, a felon in most states in the country.
Captain McVay seemed to accept it much more readily than the survivors did.
The survivors didn't like that one bit.
-There were certainly many factors involved in the Indianapolis tragedy, issues that never made their way into the court-martial.
Intelligence about Japanese submarine activity was never shared with Captain McVay, and a destroyer escort was never offered.
While the Navy had broken Japanese codes, it wanted to keep that a secret.
-Intelligence does nobody good if it's kept in a locked green room, behind a green door.
It's only when it's operationalized does it actually do any value for our military forces.
-For the survivors, it's no mystery why they spent so much time in the water and why so many of their shipmates died.
-You know, the fact that the sailors were in the water for almost five days caused all of those deaths, and that was caused by a delay in recognizing that the ship was missing and a delay in rescue, and nobody was punished for that.
-What I'm saying to you, a lot of men died between Tuesday afternoon and Friday morning.
-For most of the survivors, their captain remains blameless, despite the outcome of his trial.
-I think they used him for a scapegoat, for losing all those men and losing that ship, and they had to blame it on somebody.
It just wasn't his fault.
-McVay retires from the Navy.
But the Indy's tragic end will continue to haunt him and his crew.
-And so the troops came home, home from Iwo Jima and... -When we went home after the war, they said, "Go home and forget about it."
Well, it's easy for them to tell me to forget about it 'cause they weren't there.
And we didn't talk about it.
You know, my mother and dad died not knowing what happened, and they never did know about it.
-Guys would say, "I can't go swimming anymore.
I can't even take a bath because being in that much water brings back too many memories."
-Me and water don't get along.
-Noise would trigger things.
Drive a car and hit a metal in the road or on a bridge, and, you know, you want to hit the deck.
It bothered me.
-There's damn few days that I don't think of the water, being rescued, or some part of the story.
-I could talk to you forever about it, and you still don't know what we went through, to be there at 17 years old, to see stuff that we should never have seen.
-For Captain McVay, the memories are especially painful.
He bears the burden of losing 879 of his men.
And he has to deal with the grief and anger of their families, many of whom blame him.
-He wrote a letter to every one of those lost-at-sea families and conveyed his condolences.
Almost immediately, letters started coming back the other way.
Most of them were very ugly.
-He'd get hate mail, and they'd blame him for everything.
-The man had been convicted by his own Navy.
The Navy seemed to hold him responsible for the death of their loved ones.
Why should they think otherwise?
-Every Christmas, that guy might get 100 or 200 Christmas cards.
-"Dear Captain McVay..." -"Dear Captain McVay..." -You know what they'd say?
"If it wasn't 'cause of you, my husband or my son would be alive today."
-"...would be alive today, and would be celebrating Christmas."
-"I hope you're having a merry Christmas.
We would be, too, if you hadn't killed my son."
-"We would be, too, if you hadn't killed my son.
Yours truly..." -"Sincerely..." -I think as the years went on and the guilt didn't diminish and the letters kept coming, I think that it became harder and harder for him to live with it.
♪♪ ♪♪ So on a morning in 1968... ...he went out to his front porch.
His dog came out of the house at the same time.
♪♪ ♪♪ And he shot himself in the head.
[ Gunshot ] He committed suicide on his front lawn, holding a toy sailor that his dad had given him when he was a small boy.
♪♪ -Coming in, 20, 25, 20 meters ahead.
-That's in front of us.
-On the bridge of the sunken Indianapolis, the Petrel team makes a poignant discovery.
That's exactly what it is.
[ Bell ringing ] -By custom, the ship's bell is used to signal the change of watch, but there is another naval tradition that connects this artifact and this ship to the man who was its commander.
-Every day when you walk aboard your vessel, your ship -- you're the captain -- a crew member rings a bell, ding-ding, ding-ding, and they announce on the ship's announcing system, "Indianapolis arriving."
They don't say, "Captain of Indianapolis."
They say, "Indianapolis," because the captain personifies the ship.
That's the naval lore.
And so every day I came aboard that ship and I heard, "Indianapolis arriving," I thought of McVay.
I thought of the fact that he heard the same words.
-After McVay's death, many of his crewmen take on a new mission -- to exonerate their captain and clear the stain of the court-martial conviction from his record.
-These guys were fighters in the water, and they became crusaders later in life, both in the name of their ship and the name of their captain.
And so they stood behind him, and they began to fight almost immediately.
-We fought the Navy.
We fought the Pentagon.
We fought Washington, anyone that would hear us.
We knew that it was a miscarriage of justice on the part of the Navy to court-martial a good captain.
-Eventually, the survivors enlist the help of Bill Toti, captain of the other Indianapolis.
He has forged a special bond with the men who served on the original Indy.
-When I got to know the survivors better, they started referring to me as Skipper Bill, and they started treating me almost like I was their, you know, long-lost captain.
I felt an obligation to them.
And when I first started looking into the story and the exoneration, I didn't know what I'd find.
You know, I was looking for an opportunity to have the Navy admit that perhaps justice wasn't served and maybe get the Navy to soften its hard line and throw a bone to the survivors.
-12-year-old Hunter Scott was inspired to find out the truth about Captain McVay.
-As Bill Toti pursues official avenues inside the Navy, another champion emerges.
-The survivors started sending me these articles about this 13-year-old boy named Hunter Scott, who had made it his school project to shine a light on the plight of Captain McVay, and this kid was going gangbusters.
-Please welcome Hunter Scott.
Hunter, come on.
[ Cheers and applause ] -My goal is to erase all mention of the court-martial and conviction from Captain McVay's naval record.
-There are many, many reasons for you to be proud of yourself.
You know what?
When I was your age, I kept getting stuck under the garage.
[ Laughter ] -He was absolutely vital in the sequence of events that were to follow.
When I left command of the submarine, Hunter was still out there publicly rallying support, and my work was very much behind the scenes.
-When the Navy refuses to reopen its investigation or drop McVay's conviction, the effort turns to Congress.
-I think the survivors of USS Indianapolis, as they sought for years to clear Captain McVay's name, were also fighting to clear their own conscience, to lift a cloud that had fallen over their ship.
-In May 1999, a resolution is drafted to clear Captain McVay.
-Senator John Warner allowed the exoneration language to go to the full Senate for a vote, and it passed, and President Clinton signed it into law.
And so that's how Charles Butler McVay III was exonerated for the sinking of his ship.
-The only thing, it's too late for him because he's already put his revolver to his temple and pulled the trigger.
But it did something for we survivors and even for relatives of those lost at sea.
-Now 17 years after Captain McVay's exoneration comes the discovery of Indy's final resting place.
-1929 U.S. Navy.
Navy Yard Norfolk.
-I do believe this brought closure, both to the survivors, but I think more so to the lost-at-sea families because for them, this is the final resting spot for their loved ones.
This is hallowed ground for them.
-I'm sure it helps those people to know that the ship has been found, and I'm proud for those people, but I'm real sorry for my shipmates that lost their life.
-People think I'm a hero.
I had bad luck.
I was on a ship that sank.
I swam around there for five days.
I was picked up.
No big deal.
I'm no hero.
I just did my thing.
I want to keep the story alive.
That type of story should be kept alive.
♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -To order "USS Indianapolis: The Final Chapter" on DVD, visit Shop PBS or call 1-800-PLAYPBS.
This program is also available on Amazon Prime Video.