Thursday, December 28, 2006

Smiley leading efforts to raise funds for U.S.S. Indianapolis memorial


The Daily World
By Nick Schneider
December 28, 2006

A Linton resident is heading up a national fundraising effort to provide the money needed for the construction of a permanent memorial honoring the U.S.S. Indianapolis SSN-697 submarine.

The proposed memorial would be located near the current U.S.S. Indianapolis cruiser CA-35 monument - the other major U.S. Naval vessel that bears the name of Indiana's capital city.

Bob E. Smiley, Ph.D., a retired Indiana State University business and marketing professor, said $100,000 is needed by the United States Submarine Veterans, Inc. (USSVI) - a Hoosier Base organization to move parts from the decommissioned submarine in the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Washington state and mount them on a specially designed memorial along the downtown Indianapolis canal walkway.

Smiley, who has lived in Linton since 2000, is the USSVI-Hoosier Base treasurer and chairman of the monument committee.

The USSVI is an all-volunteer 12,000 member organization based in Silverdale, Wash. The Hoosier base is located in Indianapolis and has 118 members.

“We want to have this monument in place alongside the CA-35 cruiser monument so that the folks of Indiana will know that there was more than one warship named for our capital,” Smiley told The Daily World on Wednesday evening.

Smiley, who served on the U.S.S. Toro submarine from 1957-59, said a “pass-through” account has been established with the Greene County Foundation to accept tax-deductible donations to this project.

The U.S.S. Indianapolis SSN 697 is a nuclear-powered Los Angeles-class submarine that was commissioned Jan. 5, 1980 and decommissioned nearly 19 years later Dec. 22, 1998.

The fund drive, which is being done in cooperation with the Indiana Department of Veteran's Affairs and the Indiana War Memorial Commission, started in November and he hopes to reach the goal by Dec. 1, 2007.

Smiley said the U.S.S. Indianapolis submarine is less famous than the World War II vintage U.S.S. Indianapolis (CA-35) Portland-class heavy cruiser. She holds a place in history due to the notorious circumstances of her loss, which was the worst single at-sea loss of life in the history of the U.S. Navy.

After delivering the first atomic bomb to be used in combat to the United States air base at Tinian Island in July 1945, she was in the Philippine Sea when attacked at July 30, 1945 by a Japanese submarine. Most of the crew was lost to shark attacks, as they floated helplessly for several days, waiting for assistance. The Indianapolis was the last U.S. Navy ship sunk by enemy action in World War II.

“We are working to get land near the U.S. Indianapolis cruiser memorial on the Indianapolis canal walk,” Smiley said. “We will bring the external components - that's the sail and the rudder. The hull will be simulated using concrete. It will look like the submarine is sitting there.”

The sea history of the U.S. Indianapolis submarine is somewhat secretive - because it completed its 10 missions during the “Cold War” era, according to Smiley.

This was also the first time that a U.S. Submarine Group Submarine Assistance Team embarked on a British ship in the western Pacific to assist the British in submarine coordination.

After six days of this complex tactical development exercise, three submarines surfaced and lined up with HMS Illustrious for an historic photo. This was a new twist for the submariners, as most are not familiar with steaming in close formation alongside an aircraft carrier. While maneuvering into position, U.S.S. Indianapolis was flying their "INDY 500" checkered flag alongside their United States ensign from their bridge.

To make a donation to the U.S.S. Indianapolis SSN-697 Memorial Fund contract the Greene County Foundation at R.R. 2 Box 38X, Bloomfield, Ind., 47424 or call (812) 659-3142 or e-mail at

The technical numbers behind the U.S.S. Indianapolis-SSN-697

Length: 362 feet (110.3 m) 360 feet (110 m)

Beam: 33 feet (10 m)

Displacement: 6080/6927 tons (surfaced/submerged)

Surface Speed: 15 knots (27 km/h)

Submerged Speed: 32 knots (58 km/h)

Crew: 127-133

Armament: 4 Torpedo tubes for Mk48 or Mk48 ADCAP Torpedoes, Harpoon and Tomahawk missiles, 12/15 VLS tubes for Harpoon and Tomahawk missiles.



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