BURNS HARBOR - A legendary name in the US Naval fleet is back home in Indiana.
The brand new USS Indianapolis will be commissioned at a big ceremony in Burns Harbor on Saturday.
Among those attending are some of the men who survived the infamous sinking of the USS Indianapolis in World War 2.
"My age, I didn't think I'd ever see this day, put it that way,” said Dick Thelen.
After 74 years, Thelen is back on board the USS Indianapolis. The half-billion dollar, 388-foot Naval combat ship just arrived from Marinette, Wisconsin where it was built and will be commissioned at a ceremony this weekend in front of 11,000 people.
"I think bringing this kind of event to the people here is extremely important,” said USS Indianapolis Commander Colin Kane.
Kane gave FOX 32 a tour of the ship, which he describes as fast and agile and able to maneuver in shallow water to lay and detect mines.
"A lot of the equipment you find here you will not see on any of the other legacy ships. We are the latest and greatest,” Kane said.
This is the fourth USS Indianapolis, with the most famous being the heavy cruiser that was sunk by a Japanese sub in 1945 after delivering the first atomic bomb. The ship sank in minutes, sending nearly 1,200 sailors into shark-infested waters for four days. Only 316 survived.
On Thursday, three of those survivors met with the new crew to tell their harrowing story. The 92-year-old Thelen says it remains burned in his memory.
"104 hours roughly without food and water. And 90 to 100 degree temperatures,” he said. "Sharks, oh yeah! I seen men taken by sharks 15, 20 feet away. And twice I was out there I could feel them bouncing off my legs."
"My shark's eyes and my eyes were about this far apart. He looked me over and swam away. He didn't like the looks of me,” Thelen added. "But every time I was ready to give up, I'd feel dad's grip and I'd see my dad's face. When I got home, I told my dad that."
It’s inspiration for today's USS Indianapolis crew as they head to the ship's home base in Florida.
"It makes you want to fight so much harder, work so much harder to make sure that their legacy is continued,” said Delila Edwards, Chief Information Systems Tech.