Designs for the Congressional Gold Medal honoring the crew of the USS Indianapolis were up for consideration when the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) convened Sept. 18 at the United States Mint.
The U.S. Navy ship was attacked and subsequently sunk by Japanese forces during a nuclear weapon transport mission in 1945. Approximately 300 crew members went down with the ship, and the nearly 900 remaining members faced tumultuous conditions in the open sea. Of those men, just 316 survived when they were discovered and rescued four days after the sinking.
The attack of the Indianapolis is the Navy’s largest single loss of men at sea from a single ship.
Of the artist-submitted renderings for the Congressional Medal’s obverse and reverse, CCAC members endorsed two sets of designs.
The first pair’s obverse depicts the intact USS Indianapolis in the water, 10 battle stars and a rivet design on part of the border. It bears the ship’s service years, “1932-1945.” The reverse design shows crew members on a lifeboat in the foreground with rescue vessels on the horizon. It includes the text, “1195 SAILED / 316 SURVIVED.”
In the second recommended set of designs, the obverse’s focal point is a large “35” depicted on the ship’s hull. It also bears the text, “1195 SAILED / 316 SURVIVED” as well as the battle stars. The reverse is a more pared-down view of the scene with a search beacon shining out from the waves, pointing skyward. Text includes “JULY 30, 1945,” the date of the attack, and “879 STILL AT SEA,” honoring those who lost their lives in the attack.