USS Indiana (BB-58)

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USS Indiana, early 1944 in the Pacific
USS Indiana, 8 September 1942
Career (US)
Ordered:15 December 1938
Builder:Newport News Shipbuilding
Laid down:20 November 1939
Launched:21 November 1941
Commissioned:30 April 1942
Decommissioned:11 September 1947
Fate:sold for scrap
General characteristics
Class & type:South Dakota-class battleship
Displacement:35,000 tons
Length:680ft/207m
Beam:107.8ft/33m
Draft:29.3 ft (8.9 m)
Speed:27 kn (31 mph; 50 km/h)
Complement:115 officers, 1,678 men
Armament:
 
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USS Indiana, early 1944 in the Pacific
USS Indiana, 8 September 1942
Career (US)
Ordered:15 December 1938
Builder:Newport News Shipbuilding
Laid down:20 November 1939
Launched:21 November 1941
Commissioned:30 April 1942
Decommissioned:11 September 1947
Fate:sold for scrap
General characteristics
Class & type:South Dakota-class battleship
Displacement:35,000 tons
Length:680ft/207m
Beam:107.8ft/33m
Draft:29.3 ft (8.9 m)
Speed:27 kn (31 mph; 50 km/h)
Complement:115 officers, 1,678 men
Armament:
  • 9 × 16"(406mm)/45 caliber Mark 6 guns
  • 20 × 5"(127mm)/38 cal guns
  • 24 × 40 mm guns
  • 16 × 20 mm cannons; anti-aircraft guns increased as the war progressed

USS Indiana (BB-58), a South Dakota-class battleship, was the fourth ship of the United States Navy named in honor of the 19th state. Her keel was laid down on 20 November 1939 by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company of Newport News, Virginia. She was launched on 21 November 1941 sponsored by Mrs. Lewis C. Robbins, daughter of Indiana governor Henry F. Schricker, and commissioned on 30 April 1942, Captain Aaron Stanton Merrill in command.

World War II[edit]

USS Indiana, 8 September 1942

Following shakedown in Casco Bay, Maine, the new battleship steamed through the Panama Canal to bolster US fleet units in the Pacific during the critical early months of World War II. She joined Rear Admiral Lee's aircraft carrier screening force on 28 November 1942. For the next 11 months, Indiana helped protect carriers Enterprise and Saratoga, then supporting American advances in the Solomon Islands.

Indiana steamed to Pearl Harbor on 21 October 1943, and departed on 11 November with the support forces designated for the invasion of the Gilbert Islands. The battleship protected the carriers which supported the Marines during the bloody fight for Tarawa. Then, in late January 1944, she bombarded Kwajalein for eight days prior to the Marshall Islands landings on 1 February. While maneuvering to refuel destroyers that night, Indiana collided with the battleship Washington, killing several men. Temporary repairs to her starboard side were made at Majuro Atoll, and she returned to Pearl Harbor on 13 February for additional repair work. The captain of Indiana admitted that his ship was out of position, and he took responsibility for the collision. On 23 January Admiral Chester Nimitz removed him from command and replaced him with Captain Thomas Peyton.

Indiana in the south Pacific

Indiana joined the noted Task Force 58 (TF 58) for the huge Truk Atoll raids of 29–30 April, and then she bombarded Ponape Island on 1 May. In June, Indiana proceeded to the Mariana Islands with a gigantic American fleet for the invasion of that strategic island chain. She bombarded Saipan Island on 13–14 June, and she shot down several enemy aircraft with her anti-aircraft battery while fighting off air attacks on 15 June. As the Japanese aircraft carrier fleet approached the Marianas to try to repel the Americans, Indiana steamed out to meet them as part of Vice Admiral Willis A. Lee's battle line. The two large fleets approached each other on 19 June for the biggest carrier air battle of the war, the Battle of the Philippine Sea, and as four large air raids hit the American formations, the F6F Hellcats of the fleet, with minor assistance by the ships in the screens, shot down nearly 400 of the Japanese attackers. With able assistance from submarines, Vice Admiral Marc A. Mitscher's forces sank three Japanese aircraft carriers, also, including Shōkaku and the brand-new Taihō. The air battle was called the "Great Marianas Turkey Shoot".

Indiana shot down several planes, and endured two near misses by torpedoes. The Battle of the Philippine Sea decided in the American favor, Indiana resumed her screening duties around the carriers, and remained at sea for 64 consecutive days in daily support of the Marianas invasion.

In August, Indiana began operations as a unit of Task Group 38.3 (TG 38.3), bombarding the Palau Islands, and later the Philippines. She screened strikes on enemy shore installations from 12–30 September, helping to prepare for the coming invasion of Leyte Island in the central Philippine Islands. Indiana then departed the Philippines for the naval shipyard at Bremerton, Washington, arriving on 23 October, for a needed major overhaul and installation of additional anti-aircraft armament. Thus, she missed the major Battle of Leyte Gulf off the Philippines. After her overhaul, Indiana steamed for Pearl Harbor.

Reaching Pearl Harbor on 12 December, Indiana immediately began underway training preparedness. She steamed out on 10 January 1945, and with a fleet of battleships and cruisers, she bombarded Iwo Jima on 24 January. Indiana then joined TF 58 at Ulithi Atoll, and then sortied on 10 February for the invasion of Iwo Jima, the next step on the island road to Japan. She supported the carriers during raids on the Tokyo area on 17 February, and again on 25 February, with screening of air strikes on Iwo Jima in the interval. Indiana supported an air strike on Okinawa, and then departed back to her base. She arrived back at Ulithi for replenishment on 5 March.

USS Indiana bombarding Kamaishi, Japan, 14 July 1945

Indiana steamed out of Ulithi on 14 March for the crucial invasion of Okinawa, and until June, she steamed in support of carrier operations against Japan and Okinawa. These naval air raids did as much as they could to aid the ground campaign, and damage the Japanese at home. During this period, she often repelled enemy kamikazes as the Japanese tried desperately but vainly to stem the mounting tide of defeat. In early June, Indiana rode out a terrible typhoon, and then steamed to San Pedro Bay on 13 June.

As a member of TG 38.1, Indiana operated at sea from 1 July to 15 August, supporting air strikes against Japan, and bombarding coastal targets with her big 16 in (410 mm) guns. The veteran battleship arrived in Tokyo Bay on 5 September, and nine days later she steamed for San Francisco, California, where she arrived on 29 September.

Post-War[edit]

Returning to the US soon after the Japanese surrender, Indiana was placed in reserve status in September 1946 and formally decommissioned a year later. She saw no further active service and was sold for scrapping on 6 September 1963. Indiana's prow, mainmast and guns are erected at Memorial Stadium of Indiana University; her anchor rests on the grounds surrounding the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Indiana; her bell resides at the Heslar Naval Armory in Indianapolis, Indiana; and other relics are on display in various museums and schools throughout Indiana. Indiana's prow was formerly located in Berkeley, California, in a parking lot across the street from Spenger's Restaurant on Fourth Street but was moved to Memorial Stadium at Indiana University in July 2013. Some of the low-background steel that made up Indiana's hull was recycled to create the low background counting chamber at the In Vivo Radioassay and Research Facility (IVRRF) at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.[1]

Awards[edit]

Indiana received nine battle stars for her World War II service.

References[edit]

This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.

  1. ^ A historically significant shield for in vivo measurements. Lynch, TP. Health Phys. 2007 Aug;93(2 Suppl):S119-23.

External links[edit]