Tag Archive | USS South Dakota

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.

Preliminary Design for the 1919 Program Battleships. May 3, 1918, A preliminary design plan for battleships to be built with the Fiscal Year 1919 funding. This plan represented the final development of the South Dakota (Battleship # 49) class preliminary design. Photo #: S-584-132

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.

USS South Dakota (BB-57) crewmen haul down the National Ensign as the battleship is decommissioned, at the Philadelphia Naval Base, Pennsylvania, 31 January 1947. NHHC 73929

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.

GROTON, Conn. (Feb. 2, 2019) Richard Hackley, a veteran who served aboard the battleship USS South Dakota (BB 57), passes the long glass to Lt. Benjamin McFarland, the first officer of the deck to stand duty aboard the submarine South Dakota, during the boat’s commissioning ceremony at Naval Submarine Base New London, Feb. 2, 2019. South Dakota is the U.S. Navy’s 17th Virginia-class attack submarine and the third ship named for the State of South Dakota. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Tristan B. Lotz/Released)

“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.”

SoDaks representing, 73 years ago today

Artwork by John Hamilton from his publication, “War at Sea.” Courtesy of the U.S. Navy Art Gallery:

89-20-Z: U.S. Navy battleships firing guns on the Japanese mainland, July 1945.

“Believed to detail the first naval gunfire bombardment of the Japanese mainland on July 14, 1945, by Task Unit 34.8.1. (TU 34.8.1) ships included the battleships: USS South Dakota (BB-57), USS Indiana (BB-58), Massachusetts (BB-59) along with the heavy cruisers: USS Quincy, USS Chicago, and nine destroyers.”

The tale of U.S. battleships at sea in WWII is often focused on the bookends of Pearl Harbor vets and the Iowa-class, with the four ships of the South Dakota class often forgotten (although two endure as floating museum ships), so it is nice to see them remembered.

Great painting.

Here is a Kodachrome of the actual event:

Official U.S. Navy photo 80-G-K-6035 from the U.S. Navy Naval History and Heritage Command

Bombardment of Kamaishi, Japan, 14 July 1945: The U.S. Navy battleship USS Indiana (BB-58) fires a salvo from her forward 16″/45 guns at the Kamaishi plant of the Japan Iron Company, 400 km north of Tokyo. A second before, USS South Dakota (BB-57), from which this photograph was taken, fired the initial salvo of the first naval gunfire bombardment of the Japanese Home Islands. The superstructure of USS Massachusetts (BB-59) is visible directly behind Indiana. The heavy cruiser in the left center distance is either USS Quincy (CA-71) or USS Chicago (CA-136). Due to the Measure 22 camouflage, the cruiser is probably Quincy, as Chicago is only known to have been painted in Measure 21.

Combat Gallery Sunday: The Martial Art of Dwight Shepler

Much as once a week I like to take time off to cover warships (Wednesdays), on Sundays (when I feel like working), I like to cover military art and the painters, illustrators, sculptors, photographers and the like that produced them.

Combat Gallery Sunday: The Martial Art of Dwight Shepler

Dwight C. Shepler was born in Everett, Massachusetts, in 1905 and studied art at Williams College then became a member of the American Artists’ Group and the American Artists Professional League. When the war came, the 36-year-old bespectacled Shepler volunteered for the Navy and, in recognition of his skills and education, was assigned to the sea service’s Combat Art Section as an officer-artist.

As noted by the Navy, “he first traveled with a destroyer on Pacific convoy duty. From the mud of Guadalcanal, through the years of the Allied build-up in England, to the memorable D-Day on the French coast, he painted and recorded the Navy’s warfare.”

Artwork: “Gunners of the Armed Guard” Artist: Dwight C. Shepler #80 NARA

Artwork: “Liberator Fueling” Artist: Dwight C. Shepler #119 NARA

Field Day at Scapa Flow, a Northern British Base NARA DN-SC-83-05415

“Four Sisters of Londonderry” showing a four-pack of brand new U.S. Navy Benson-class destroyer destroyers including USS Madison (DD-425) USS Lansdale (DD-426) and USS Hilary P. Jones (DD-427) Artist: Dwight C. Shepler #97 – The U.S. National Archives (1983-01-01 & 1983-01-01)

Scapa Anchorage, in the collection of the National Archives, shows Shepler’s talents as a landscape artist. You almost don’t notice the Royal Navy battleships and cruiser force

The same can be said with this work, entitled St. Mawes Rendezvous, NARA DN-SC-83-05410

But then, there is war…

He observed the landings at Normandy in the ETO and Ormoc Bay and Lingayen Gulf and operations at Corregidor and Bataan in the PTO.

Opening the Attack Painting, Watercolor on Paper; by Dwight C. Shepler; 1944 D-Day D Day Arkansas French cruisers George Leygues and Montcalm. NHHC 88-199-ew

“The Battle for Fox Green Beach,” watercolor by Dwight Shepler, showing the Gleaves class destroyer USS Emmons(DD 457) foreground and her sistership, the USS Doyle, to the right, within a few hundred yards of the landing beach, mixing it up with German shore batteries on D-Day

Heavy propellers of a Rhine Ferry are swung aloft as Seabees complete the assembly of the pontoons which make up the strange craft at the invasion port somewhere in England. Drawn by Navy Combat Artist Lieutenant Dwight C. Shepler, USNR. Artwork received 12 June 1944. NHHC 80-G-45675

Task Force of Two Navies” Watercolor by Dwight Shepler, USNR, 1943, depicting U.S. and British warships in the Pentland Firth during an operation toward the Norwegian coast, coincident with the Sicily invasion, July 1943. Alabama (BB 60) is in the lead, followed by HMS Illustrious and HMS King George V. Three British carrier-based fighters (two “Seafires” and a “Martlet”) are overhead. Official USN photo # KN-20381, courtesy of the U.S. Navy Art Collection, Washington, DC, now in the collections of the National Archives.

“First Reconnaissance – Manila Harbor. Painting, Watercolor on Paper; by Dwight Shepler; 1945; Framed Dimensions 31H X 39W. Two PT’s prowled inside the breakwater entrance of Manila Harbor on February 23, 1945, first U.S. Naval vessels to enter in three years. Treading the mine-strewn waters of Manila Bay, PT’s 358 and 374 probed into the shoal harbor waters where countless enemy vessels sat on the bottom in mute testament of the severity of the fast carrier strikes of the fall of 1944. Manila smoked and exploded from the final fighting in Intramuros and the dock area.” (NHHC: 88-199-FY)

Minesweeper Before Corregidor Cleaning a pathway through the mines off Bataan peninsula, these hardy little minesweepers can work under severe Japanese coastal bombardment. Despite Army air cover overhead, the enemy shore guns sank the motor minesweeper YMS-48 and damaged the destroyers, Fletcher and Hopewell. On the following day, a naval task group landed Army troops on the peninsula and a short time thereafter resistance ceased on Corregidor and Bataan.Painting, Watercolor on Paper; by Dwight C. Shepler; 1945; Framed Dimensions 30H X 39W Accession #: 88-199-GK

Preparations For Getting Underway DN-SC-83-05402

He also did a number of historic scenes for the branch.

Watercolor painting by Dwight Shepler of the USS South Dakota in action with Japanese planes during the Battle of Santa Cruz which took place October 11-26, 1942.

This image was used in a number of adverts during the War.

The Spider and the Fly — USS Hornet CIC at Midway. During World War II, battles were won by the side that was first to spot enemy airplanes, ships, or submarines. To give the Allies an edge, British and American scientists developed radar technology to “see” for hundreds of miles, even at night.Painting, Oil on Canvas; by Dwight Shepler; 1945; Framed Dimensions 28H X 40W Accession #: 88-199-GN

Japanese dive bomber swoops down in a kamikaze attack on USS Hornet (CVA 12) and is disintegrated by the ships anti-aircraft fire before it can hit the carrier. This is a copy of a watercolor painted by Lieutenant Dwight C. Shepler, USNR, Navy Combat Artist, from memory of an actual combat experience. Photographed released August 10, 1945. U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. 80-G-700121

On 5 September 1813, the schooner Enterprise, commanded by Lieutenant William Burrows, captured the brig HMS Boxer off Portland, Maine in a twenty-minute action that saw both commanding officers die in battle. Enterprise’s second in command, Lieutenant Edward R. McCall then took Boxer to Portland, Maine. USS Enterprise versus HMS Boxer in action off the coast of Maine. Artist, Dwight Shepler. Enterprise was commanded by Lt William Burrows. Unfortunately, NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 47013-KN

For his service as a Combat Artist, the Navy awarded Shepler the Bronze Star. He left the branch in 1946 as a full Commander, USNR, having produced more than 300 paintings and drawings.

U.S. Navy artists, (left to right), Lieutenant William F. Draper, Lieutenant Dwight C. Shepler, and Lieutenant Mitchell Jamieson, conferring with Lieutenant Commander Parsons in the Navy Office of Public Relations, Washington, D.C., November 20, 1944. NHHC 80-G-47096

After the war, he continued his career as a pioneer watercolorist of the high ski country and later served as president of the Guild of Boston Artists.

Dwight Shepler, Mount Lafayette, and Cannon Mountain, N. H., n.d., watercolor, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Ford Motor Company, 1966.36.179

He died at age 69 in Weston, Mass. His works are on wide display from the Smithsonian to the Truman Library and various points in between. His oral history is in the National Archives.

Thank you for your work, sir.

The Ghost of Ulithi anchorage

(click to big up)

(click to big up)

Task Group 38.3 enters Ulithi anchorage in column,  December 1944, while returning from strikes on targets in the Philippines. Ships are (from front): Independence-class light aircraft carrier USS Langley (CVL-27); Essex-class fleet carrier USS Ticonderoga (CV-14); fast battleship sisters USS Washington (BB-56) and  USS North Carolina (BB-55); fast battleship class leader USS South Dakota (BB-57); three Cleveland-class light cruisers USS Santa Fe (CL-60); USS Biloxi (CL-80); USS Mobile (CL-63) and the  Atlanta-class light cruiser USS Oakland (CL-95). Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives (photo # 80-G-301351).

All told you are looking at 150~ aircraft and float-planes, 27 x 16-inch naval guns, 36 x 6-inch guns, at least 104 5-inch guns, and well over 700 40mm and 20mm AAA guns spread across these nine hulls. Now that‘s firepower.

Of these the mast of the USS Biloxi is in downtown Biloxi, Mississippi next to the Hard Rock Casino, the USS North Carolina is preserved as an intact museum ship in Wilmington, and the mast of the USS Oakland at the Middle Harbor Shoreline Park in Oakland, CA. As such, the ships in this picture in one form or another now stretch from the East to the Gulf to the West coasts of the United States, keeping the ghost of Task Group 38.3 very much alive.

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