SoDak back after 72 years and 2 days
South Dakota became a state on November 2, 1889, simultaneously with North Dakota, and the first U.S. Navy warship named in honor of the state was Armored Cruiser No. 9, a Pennsylvania-class ACR of some 15,000-tons that commissioned in 1908.
That vessel was renamed USS Huron (CA-9) in 1920 so that “South Dakota” could be recycled to a new BB-49-class of six 47,000-ton 23-knot battlewagons, each armed with 16″/50 caliber Mark 2 guns.
Well, the Washington Naval Treaty of 1921 caused their cancellation before any of these behemoths were launched, and they were all broken up in place, their guns passed on to the Army to use in coastal defense batteries.
The second SoDak that commissioned was, of course, the leader of a new class of four fast battleships laid down in 1939-40. Winner of a full 13 battlestars, BB-57 was known in the media as “Battleship X” across some of her more spectacular deployments during the war in the Pacific in the interest of OPSEC.
Decommissioned 31 January 1947, after less than five years with the fleet, she was laid up in Philadelphia for the next 15 years and was sold for scrap.
Now, the third SoDak, USS South Dakota (SSN-790), a brand new Virginia-class submarine built at EB’s Groton Shipyard, was commissioned Saturday, adding the name back to active service. Gratefully, some of BB-57s WWII crew were able to make it to the event.
“It is very impressive and I am very honored to be a part of this,” said Richard Hackley, a seaman 1 st Class (Radar Striker) aboard the battleship USS South Dakota during World War II. “I’ve got fond memories from serving on South Dakota and to be included in the new South Dakota is quite an honor for me.”