Just for Fun Miscellaneous
Tanks Trains Contact
SOUTH DAKOTA / BB-57
Notes: The SOUTH DAKOTA class was designed to achieve effective protection against 16" gunfire on the 35,000 ton displacement set by the London Treaty, without dropping below the 27 knot speed set by the preceding NORTH CAROLINA class. Improvements in machinery allowed the SOUTH DAKOTA class to be nearly 50' shorter (with the same beam) than the NORTH CAROLINA class; this reduction in size allowed their armor to be thicker, and the increased output from engines allowed the design speed to remain at 27 knots. Although cramped in space, the design was considered to be successful; the class was extremely maneuverable, and with their stacks fared into the superstructure, they were difficult to visually target. An unusual feature was a "tunnel stern", in which the two outboard propellers were encased in massive skegs, with the two inboard propellers revolving in the "tunnel" thus formed. Among the functions of the skegs was torpedo protection for the propellers on the opposite side. SOUTH DAKOTA was fitted as a Fleet Flagship; as such, she had an extra conning tower level. To compensate for the additional top weight, SOUTH DAKOTA was fitted with two less twin 5"/38 mounts than her sisters. Anti-aircraft armament was augmented during World War II; by 1945, SOUTH DAKOTA had 68-40mm guns in 17 quadruple mounts and 72-20mm guns, all in single mounts.
SOUTH DAKOTA arrived in the Pacific for duty on 4 September 1942; two days later, she struck an uncharted coral pinnacle in the Lahai Passage, and had to return to Pearl Harbor for repairs (which took five weeks). On 15 November 1942, SOUTH DAKOTA took part in the Second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal; with the battleship WASHINGTON and four destroyers, Admiral W. A. Lee's Task Force 64 engaged a Japanese force intent on bombarding Henderson Field on Guadalcanal. Admiral Kondo's force was comprised of the battleship KIRISHIMA, the heavy cruisers ATAGO and TAKAO, and their destroyer screen. During the battle, SOUTH DAKOTA was hit by enemy fire 42 times; her radar plot was destroyed, her radio communications failed, and she lost track of the WASHINGTON. Unable to find any targets, SOUTH DAKOTA withdrew to a planned rendezvous point where she met up with the WASHINGTON, and they returned to Noumea. Three of the four American destroyers were sunk in the action, but the Japanese lost the KIRISHIMA as well as a destroyer. SOUTH DAKOTA returned to the United States for full repairs, arriving at New York on 18 December 1942. Repairs took about two months, and soon SOUTH DAKOTA was back in action, this time in the Atlantic working with the British Home Fleet. She served in the Atlantic until August, 1943, then was transferred back to the Pacific Theatre. SOUTH DAKOTA served in numerous escort and bombardment missions, and was hit by a single 500-lb. bomb from a Japanese dive bomber on 19 June 1944 during the Battle of the Philippines Sea, killing 24 of her crew and wounding 27 more. Following repairs which kept her out of action for a little over two months, SOUTH DAKOTA was once again serving with American forces in the Pacific. Following World War II, SOUTH DAKOTA arrived "back home", first at San Francisco and then to San Pedro, then sailed for the east coast, arriving in Philadelphia in early 1946. She was decommissioned on 31 January 1947 and placed in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. She remained in that status until she was struck from the Naval Register on 1 June 1962. SOUTH DAKOTA was sold for scrapping in October, 1962.