Charles Butler McVay, 3rd, USN

Born  30 Jul 1898Ephrata, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, USA
Died  6 Nov 1968(70)Litchfield, Litchfield County, Connecticut, USA


8 Dec 1939 Cdr.
18 Jun 1942 T/Capt.
1949 Rear-Admiral

Retired: 1949


Warship Commands listed for Charles Butler McVay, USN

USS Kaweah (AO 15)Cdr.Oiler15 Dec 1940early 1942
USS Indianapolis (CA 35)T/Capt.Heavy cruiser18 Nov 194430 Jul 1945

Career information

Charles Butler McVay, 3rd was one of 316 survivors of the loss off the heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis on 30 July 1945. The Navy failed to even register that the ship and its 1196 man crew were missing, let alone mount a proper search until 5 days after the sinking.

He was the only US navy commander to be court-martialed for loosing his ship in the war.

Charles Butler McVay, 3rd took his own life with his service revolver on 6 Nov 1968 after being hounded by relatives of men lost from sinking of his cruiser USS Indianapolis over 20 years earlier. He was officially exonerated in the year 2000 through efforts from survivors of the USS Indianapolis.

Events related to this officer

Heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis (CA 35)

31 Mar 1945
Seriously Damaged by Japanese Kamikaze off Okinawa.9 of her crew were killed and 26 were wounded.

30 Jul 1945
She was hit by two torpedoes at 12:05 am, one blowing off most of her bow, where the officers slept. About 900 of the 1,196 on board survived the sinking, which lasted 12 minutes. 316 would later survive the dehydration, the sharks, and the heat. The ships commanding officer, Capt. McVay survived, only to commit suicide in 1968 by reasons of receiving hate mail. The survivors attend a reunion every 5 years, starting in 1960. (1)

Media links

Left for dead

Pete Nelson

The Tragic Fate of the U.S.S. Indianapolis

Lech, Raymond B.
(£ 12.06)

In Harm's Way

Stanton, Doug

Ordeal by Sea

Helm, Thomas

Abandon Ship!

Newcomb, Richard F.


  1. Personal communication

You can help improve officers Charles Butler McVay's page
Click here to Submit events/comments/updates for this officer.
Please use this if you spot mistakes or want to improve his page.

Allied Commanders main page

As an Amazon Associate earns a commission from qualifying purchases.