The Sinking Of The USS Indianapolis Essay
Type of paper: Essay
Topic: Armed Forces, Army, Criminal Justice, Captain, Court, Crime, Evidence, Politics
I would have handled the events of the USS Indianapolis quite differently if I was a decision maker in the US Navy. Based on the evidence, it appears that the Navy made several mistakes in the handling of the Indianapolis, and this ended up costing lives and falsely convicting Captain McVay. First of all, the Navy should have raised an alarm when the Indianapolis failed to reach their destination on time. Second, the Indianapolis was not equipped with antisubmarine warfare, or other technological devices that would be useful to fight off a Japanese attack (Hart, 2001, p. 47). Finally, I would not have court martialed, and convicted Captain McVay for this tragedy.
I do not believe Captain McVay’s court martial was appropriate given the evidence provided. McVay was charged on two accounts. The first was failing to perform a defensive maneuver, known as zigzagging, and secondly, failing to abandon the ship in a timely manner (Carpenter, 2005, p. 52). It was documented that the Indianapolis sunk within minutes, and the Navy knew this before the court martial, so this charge should never have even been considered. As for the zigzagging, the Japanese commander, Hashimoto, testified and stated zigzagging would have made no difference, which makes it even more shocking that McVay was convicted of this account (Hart, 2001, p. 47). Based on this evidence, McVay never should have been treated like this back then, and it was a good thing that he was later exonerated in 2000.
The question of full disclosure in the military is a tricky subject and one that is impossible produce a perfect solution. As I always believe transparency and full disclosure are almost always good ideas, I would like to see government officials cooperate with investigations despite the fact military secrets could be given. The only way to truly fight incompetence or corruption in government is for all the facts to come out. This should be the case both in war and peace time. A country that bases itself on the rule of law, and has a fact based legal system should always be upheld and never hindered, regardless of the situation.
Hart, J. (2001, August 20). Abandoned Ship. National Review, pp. 46-47.
Carpenter, E. (2005). In Harms's Way: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors. Army Lawyer, pp. 48-54.