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  USS Indiana BB-58
South Dakota Class Battleship

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USN c1944

Ship History
Built by the Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Company at Newport News, Virginia. Laid down on November 20, 1939. Launched on November 21, 1941. Commissioned April 30, 1942 with Captain A.A. Merrill in command.

Wartime Service
Following shakedown in Casco Bay, Maine, USS Indiana traveled through the Panama Canal to bolster the Pacific Fleet. She joined Rear Admiral Lee's aircraft carrier screening force November 28, 1942. For the next 11 months, Indiana helped protect the USS Enterprise and USS Saratoga, supporting the Solomon Islands campaign.

Afterwards, Indiana returned to Pearl Harbor on October 21, 1943, and departed November 11 with the support forces designated for the invasion of the Gilbert Islands. Again Indiana protected the carriers which supported the Marines invasion of Tarawa. Next, during late January 1944 she bombarded Kwajalein for eight days prior to the Marshall Islands landings on February 1. While maneuvering to refuel destroyers that night, the Indiana collided with the battleship USS 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 the Indiana admitted that his ship was out of position, and he took responsibility for the collision, then removed from command.

The Indiana joined the noted Task Force 58 (TF-58) for the Truk Atoll raids of April 29–April 30, and then she bombarded Ponape Island on May 1. In June the Indiana proceeded to the Marianas Islands with a gigantic American fleet for the invasion of that strategic island chain. She bombarded Saipan Island on June 13–June 14, and she shot down several enemy aircraft with her anti-aircraft battery while fighting off air attacks on June 15. As the Japanese aircraft carrier fleet approached the Marianas to try to repel the Americans, the 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 1944 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 Hellcat carrier fighter planes 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 the Sh?kaku and the brand-new Taih?. The air battle was called the "Great Marianas Turkey Shoot."

The Indiana shot down several planes, and endured two near misses by torpedos. The Battle of the Philippine Sea decided in the American favor, the 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 the Indiana began operations as a unit of Task Group 38.3, bombarding the Palau Islands, and later the Philippines. She screened strikes on enemy shore installations from September 12 to September 30, 1944, helping to prepare for the coming invasion of Leyte Island in the central Philippine Islands. The Indiana then departed the Philippines for the naval shipyard at Bremerton, Washington, arriving on October 23, 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, the Indiana steamed for Pearl Harbor.

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

The Indiana steamed out of Ulithi on March 14 for the crucial invasion of Okinawa, and until June 1945, 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 suicide plane attacks as the Japanese tried desperately but vainly to stem the mounting tide of defeat. In early June, the Indiana rode out a terrible typhoon, and then steamed to San Pedro Bay, the Philippines, on June 13.

As a member of Task Group 38.1 Indiana operated asea from July 1 to August 15, supporting air strikes against Japan, and bombarding coastal targets with her big 16" guns. The veteran battleship arrived in Tokyo Bay on September 5, 1945, and nine days later she departed across the Pacific arriving at San Francisco on September 29, 1945.

She was placed on reserve in commission at Bremerton, Washington, on September 11, 1946. She was decommissioned on September 11, 1947, and then entered the Pacific Reserve Fleet. After 15 years in reserve, she was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on June 1, 1962 and sold to be demolished for scrap metal.

The Indiana's mainmast is erected at Memorial Stadium of Indiana University; her anchor rests on the grounds surrounding the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Indiana; and other relics are on display in various museums and schools throughout Indiana. The Indiana's prow is located in Berkeley, California, in a parking lot across the street from Spenger's Restaurant on Fourth Street.

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Last Updated
September 16, 2020


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