|Ship Class||South Dakota-class Battleship|
|Builder Name||New York Shipbuilding Corp., Camden, New Jersey, United States|
|Laid Down||5 Jul 1939|
|Launched||7 Jun 1941|
|Commissioned||20 Mar 1942|
|Decommissioned||31 Jan 1947|
|Displacement||35,000 tons standard; 43,200 tons full|
|Armament||9x406mm guns, 16x127mm guns, 68x40mm guns, 76x20mm guns|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseSouth Dakota was commissioned in 1942 with Captain Thomas L. Gatch in command. After fitting out at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, she held her shakedown cruise from 3 Jun to 26 Jul, then headed out for the Pacific Ocean on 16 Aug. She reached the Panama Canal on 21 Aug, then arrived at Nuku?alofa, Tonga, on 4 Sep. On 6 Sep, she struck a coral pinnacle in the Lahai Passage, and had to sail for Pearl Harbor Navy Yard, Hawaii, United States for repairs, which lasted until 12 Oct.
ww2dbaseSouth Dakota sailed with Task Force 16, which was centered around carrier Enterprise, from Hawaii to Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides, where they joined with Task Force 17 to form Task Force 61, commanded by Rear Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid. On 25 Oct, she was engaged in the Battle of Santa Cruz Islands, where she acted as an anti-aircraft gun platform. She was attacked by dive bombers and sustained a 500-pound bomb hit on the top of her number one turret. At the end of the battle, she was credited with downing 26 Japanese aircraft.
ww2dbaseOn 30 Oct, South Dakota collided with destroyer Mahan while avoiding a submarine contact. Both ships sailed to Nouméa, New Caledonia for repairs by USS Vestal.
ww2dbaseOn 11 Nov, South Dakota sailed for Guadalcanal with Task Force 16. On 13 Nov, she joined Task Force 64 under Rear Admiral Willis A. Lee. During the evening of 14 Nov 1942, a Japanese fleet consisted of battleship Kirishima, heavy cruiser Atago, heavy cruiser Takao, light cruisers, and destroyers was detected by submarine Trout, and Task Force 64 was dispatched to respond. By 2210, Vice Admiral Nobutake Kondo had also detected Task Force 64, and divided his force into three sections in an attempt to out maneuver the Americans. Battleships South Dakota and Washington opened fire on light cruiser Sendai at 2317, but at 2333 South Dakota ran into electrical problems which put much of her electronics out of commission, depriving the Americans the use of her radar. Meanwhile, Lee made the realization that his destroyer screen was about to be wiped out completely. He ordered South Dakota to go around the sinking destroyers to shield them from some fire, meanwhile allowing her to fire a few more rounds of broadside fire on Sendai before retiring. At 2348, South Dakota completed this maneuver, and turned starboard again to exit the battle, only to find that she was ambushed by another Japanese group, which she had not detected because of the lack of radar. 34 torpedoes were fired from the ambushing ships at 2355, but all of them missed. The torpedoes were followed by a hail of gunfire from battleships Kirishima, Atago, and Takao. Battleship Washington moved close to support by firing on Kirishima, but the Japanese ships were determined to destroy South Dakota first and refused to be distracted. Washington fired 75 16-inch shells at Kirishima, scoring 9; there were 40 hits by the smaller 5-inch shells, too. Kirishima quickly became a burning wreck by 0012. South Dakota, by this point, fared only a little better; almost everything on the topside was destroyed after being hit by 42 shells, leaving her without any capability for communications. Lee, with his flag bridge aboard Washington, only hoped that the lack of communications from South Dakota only meant she was retiring from battle, not sinking. Luckily for South Dakota, the Japanese fleet retired from the Second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, largely because Washington was inflicting so much damage on Kirishima, which would eventually be scuttled due to the damage received. South Dakota retired to Nouméa for temporary repairs by USS Prometheus, and then sailed for New York City, New York, United States for permanent repairs, arriving on 18 Dec 1942.
ww2dbaseSouth Dakota returned to service on 25 Feb 1943. In mid-Apr, she was deployed to carrier Ranger's group to the North Atlantic. Until 1 Aug, she operated with the British Home Fleet based at Scapa Flow, Scotland, United Kingdom. In Aug, she sailed for the United States.
ww2dbaseOn 21 Aug 1943, South Dakota sailed for the Pacific Ocean again, arriving in Fiji on 7 Nov. On 11 Nov, she joined Task Group 50.1 for Operation Galvanic, the invasion of the Gilbert Islands. She escorted carriers as their aircraft struck targets in the Gilbert and Marshall Islands. On 8 Dec, she bombarded Nauru Island. On 30 Jan 1944, she bombarded Roi and Namur in the Marshall Islands, and then supported the amphibious landings at the Marshall Islands over the following days. Between 17 and 18 Feb, she escorted carriers as they struck the Japanese garrison of Truk in the Caroline Islands. On 24 Feb, she escorted carriers as the aircraft struck the Mariana Islands for the first time in the war; during this attack, South Dakota shot down four Japanese aircraft. Between 22 Mar and early Apr, she escorted carriers as they struck Palau, Yap, Woleai, and Ulithi in the Caroline Islands. On 29 and 30 Apr, she escorted carriers during another strike on Truk, and then fired her guns on Japanese installations on the island. On 1 May, she bombarded Ponape Island, Caroline Islands. On 13 Jun, she bombarded Tanapag Harbor, Saipan for six hours in support of the invasion.
ww2dbaseShortly after 1000 on 19 Jun 1944, the first of many waves of Japanese aircraft were detected, starting the Battle of the Philippine Sea. At 1049, South Dakota was struck by a 250-kg bomb on the main deck, blowing a large hole but did not cause structural damage, although 24 men were killed and 27 were wounded. The battle would subsequently come to be known a the "Great Marianas Turkey Shoot" for the massive losses the American forces would inflict on the Japanese. South Dakota retired to Ulithi on 27 Jun, and headed to Puget Sound Navy Yard on the west coast of the United States, arriving on 10 Jul.
ww2dbaseAfter the overhaul at Puget Sound was complete, South Dakota returned to Ulithi in Sep 1944. Between Oct and Dec, she operated east of the Philippine Islands, screening for carriers that launched strikes at Manila and other targets on Luzon Island as an indirect support for the invasion of Mindoro, Philippine Islands. Between 30 Dec 1944 and 26 Jan 1945, she continued to escort carriers and they launched aircraft against Taiwan, Luzon, Hong Kong, Hainan, and Okinawa. On 17 Feb, South Dakota escorted carriers during a strike on Tokyo, Japan. On 19 and 20 Feb, she operated off of Iwo Jima. In Mar and Apr, she bombarded southeastern Okinawa.
ww2dbaseOn 6 May 1945, a tank of high capacity powder aboard South Dakota exploded, killing three men instantly and then another eight later due to injuries. She retired to Guam in the Mariana Islands on 11 May for temporary repairs. In Jul, while escorting carrier strikes on Japan, she bombarded the Kamaishi Steel Works at Kamaishi, Honshu, Japan on 14 Jul. On 29 and 30 Jul, she bombarded Hamamatsu, Honshu. On 9 Aug, she bombarded Kamaishi once again. She remained in the area to screen for carriers until Japan surrendered on 15 Aug.
ww2dbaseOn 27 Aug 1945, South Dakota entered Sagami Wan (Bay) at Honshu. Two days later, she entered Tokyo Bay. She left Japan on 20 Sep, arriving at San Pedro, California, United States in late Oct 1945. After the war, she was placed in reserve in early 1947, and was never reactivated again. She was sold to Lipsett Division, Luria Brothers and Company, Inc. for scrap at the cost of US$446,000.
ww2dbaseSources: Struggle for Guadalcanal, Wikipedia.
Last Major Revision: Sep 2008
Battleship South Dakota (BB-57) Interactive Map
South Dakota Operational Timeline
|5 Jul 1939||The keel of the battleship USS South Dakota (BB-57) was laid down at the New York Shipbuilding Corporation shipyard in Camden, New Jersey, United States.|
|20 Mar 1942||South Dakota was commissioned into service.|
|31 Jan 1947||South Dakota was decommissioned from service.|
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Lt. Gen. Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller, at Guadalcanal