The sinking of the USS Indianapolis (CA-35) shook the American consciousness, striking the families and the public as a senseless and shocking loss in the final months of the war in the Pacific. The captain of the Indy, Charles McVay, was later court-martialed for negligence. McVay was the only U.S. Navy commander convicted for losing his ship to enemy action during World War II. The Navy has a unique tradition: to hold accountable the highest levels of leadership for any event that causes harm to sailors or U.S. national security. While McVay’s conviction was legally correct, the standard of accountability applied to him was never applied with the same rigor to anyone else, and was not, therefore, a “standard.”
1. Mary Kelly, “Charles B. McVay III: Accountability,” in Leadership Embodied, ed. Joseph Thomas (Annapolis, MD: U.S. Naval Institute Press, 2013), 113.
2. Kelly, “Charles B. McVay III: Accountability,” 115.