USS South Dakota

South Dakota-class battleship

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USS South Dakota (BB-57)
USS South Dakota (BB-57) anchored in Hvalfjörður, Iceland, on 24 June 1943 (NH 97265).jpg
USS South Dakota anchored in Iceland, 1943.
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United States
Namesake: South Dakota
Ordered: 15 December 1938
Builder: New York Shipbuilding Corporation
Laid down: 5 July 1939
Launched: 7 June 1941
Commissioned: 20 March 1942
Decommissioned: 31 January 1947
Stricken: 1 June 1962
Fate: Broken up, 1962, Parts of the ship preserved at Sioux Falls, South Dakota
General characteristics
Class and type: South Dakota-class battleship
Length: 680 ft (210 m) o/a
Beam: 108 ft 2 in (32.97 m)
Draft: 35 ft 1 in (10.69 m)
Installed power:
Speed: 27.5 knots (50.9 km/h; 31.6 mph)
Range: 15,000 nmi (28,000 km; 17,000 mi) at 15 kn (28 km/h; 17 mph)
  • 1,793 officers and enlisted men (peace)
  • 2,500 officers and enlisted men (war)
Aircraft carried: 3 × "Kingfisher" floatplanes
Aviation facilities: 2 × catapults

USS South Dakota (BB-57) was the lead vessel of the four South Dakota-class fast battleships built for the United States Navy in the 1930s. The first American battleships designed after the Washington treaty system began to break down in the mid-1930s, the South Dakotas were able to take advantage of a treaty clause that allowed them to increase the main battery to 16-inch (406 mm) guns. However, congressional refusal to authorize larger battleships kept their displacement close to the Washington limit of 35,000 long tons (36,000 t). A requirement to be armored against the same caliber of guns as they carried, combined with the displacement restriction, resulted in cramped ships. Overcrowding was exacerbated by wartime modifications that considerably strengthened their anti-aircraft batteries and significantly increased their crews.

South Dakota saw extensive action during World War II; immediately upon entering service in mid-1942, she was sent to the south Pacific to reinforce Allied forces waging the Guadalcanal campaign. The ship was damaged in an accidental grounding on an uncharted reef, but after completing repairs she returned to the front, taking part in the Battle of Santa Cruz in October and the Second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal in November. During the latter action, electrical failures hampered the ability of the ship to engage Japanese warships and she became the target of numerous Japanese vessels, sustaining over two-dozen hits that significantly damaged her superstructure but did not seriously threaten her buoyancy. South Dakota returned to the United States for repairs that lasted into 1943, after which she was briefly deployed to strengthen the British Home Fleet, tasked with protecting convoys to the Soviet Union.

In mid-1943, the ship was transferred back to the Pacific, where she primarily operated with the fast carrier task force, contributing her heavy anti-aircraft armament to its defense. In this capacity, she took part in the Gilbert and Marshall Islands campaign in late 1943 and early 1944, the Mariana and Palau Islands campaign in mid-1944, and the Philippines campaign later that year. In 1945, she participated in the Battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa and bombarded Japan three times. Following the end of the war in August 1945, she took part in the initial occupation of the country before returning to the United States in September. She later moved to the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, where she was laid up in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet until 1962, when she was sold for scrap.

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  • Sioux Falls, South Dakota

    City in South Dakota, United States

  • USS South Dakota (BB-57)

    Fast battleship of the United States Navy

  • Augustana University

    Private Lutheran university in Sioux Falls, South Dakota

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    Independent TV station in Sioux Falls, South Dakota

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    Cooperative higher education system in Sioux Falls, South Dakota

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