USS Indianapolis: The Final Chapter USS Indianapolis: The Final Chapter The heroic legacy and final moments reconstructed

Available on PBS


In the waning days of WWII, the cruiser USS Indianapolis has just delivered “Little Boy” – the atomic bomb destined for Hiroshima – and sails off to join the Allied invasion force. Just after midnight on July 30, 1945, she is torpedoed by a Japanese sub in the middle of the Philippine Sea. She sinks within minutes, taking 300 of her crew down with her. The 900 survivors drift for four and a half days, battling the sun, thirst, sharks, and their own fear. It is a disaster that owes as much to bureaucratic snafus as it does to enemy action: the Navy loses track of the ship and fails to mount a search. It is only by chance that a passing plane happens to spot the survivors. Only 316 of them are pulled from the sea alive. The sinking of Indianapolis remains the U.S. Navy’s worst single loss of life at sea.

The tragic end of the Indianapolis and the location of its remains are shrouded in mystery for more than seven decades, until an expedition launched by philanthropist Paul G. Allen discovers the ship in August 2017, in some of the deepest waters on the planet.

Now the definitive story of USS Indianapolis will finally be told as we reconstruct the ship’s heroic legacy, and her dramatic final moments. This scientific detective story details the events that led up to the discovery of the wreck site, combining never-before-seen archival footage and CGI, with the moving accounts of the few remaining survivors, the testimony of historians, and spectacular HD footage of the well-preserved wreckage,18,000 feet down. We also tell the story of Captain Charles Butler McVay III, who survives the sinking of his ship only to face a Navy court-martial – the only captain in U.S. history convicted for losing his ship in wartime. His suicide in 1968 sparks a campaign by his loyal crew to clear his name – a campaign joined by the captain of a nuclear submarine who risks his own career to right the injustice.


  • Director/Executive Producer: Kirk Wolfinger
  • Dramatic Recreation Director/Executive Producer: Lisa Q. Wolfinger
  • Executive Producer: Paul G. Allen
  • Executive Producer: Rocky Collins
  • Executive Producer: Carole Tomko
  • Expedition Footage Director/Director of Photography: Rob Lyall
  • Narrator: Kyle Chandler
  • Producer/Editor: Jed Rauscher
  • Writer: Jaime Bernanke
  • Archival Producer: Mika Holliday Lentz