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  USS Strong DD-467
USN
Fletcher-class destroyer

2,050 Tons
376' 6" x 39' 8" x 17' 9"
5 × 5" 38 ca. main guns
10 × 40mm AA guns
7 × 20mm AA guns
10 × 21" torpedo tubes
6 × depth charge projectors
2 × depth charge tracks


USN 1942


USN July 5, 1943
Ship History
Built by Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine. Laid down April 30, 1941 as a Fletcher-class destroyer. Launched May 17, 1942 as USS Strong (DD-467) as the first ship named in honor of Rear Admiral James H. Strong sponsored by Mrs. Hobart Olson. Commissioned August 7, 1942 with Commander Joseph H. Wellings in command. Afterwards, underwent a shakedown cruise.

Wartime History
On October 15, 1942 departs with a convoy to San Juan, Puerto Rico then returns to Norfolk, VA arriving twelve days later. On October 29, 1942 departs for New York.

On November 13, 1942 joins convoy UGS-2 and crosses the Atlantic Ocean bound for Casablanca arriving November 29, 1942 and returned to New York with convoy GUF-2. Afterwards, to Norfolk, VA then departs on December 27, 1942 via the Panama Canal and refuels at Bora Bora. On January 27, 1943 arrived at Nouméa then departed to escort a convoy northwest for two days then returned to Nouméa. On February 1, 1943 departed Nouméa with USS Cony (DD-508) escorting a convoy bound for Espiritu Santo. On February 5, 1943 departed on a patrol off Guadalcanal.

On February 13, 1943 joins Task Force 67 (TF 67) as part of the destroyer screen for four cruisers in the Solomon Islands.

On March 14, 1943, USS Strong, USS Nicholas (DD-449), USS Radford (DD-446) and USS Taylor (DD-468) detached for a shore bombardment during the night of March 15, 1943 to March 16, 1943 for the fourth shore bombardment of Vila-Stanmore on Kolombangara. Afterwards, resumed patrol duty.

On April 7, 1942 at 9:51pm off San Cristobal on radar, USS Strong spots a target 9,350 yards away and closed then uses her searchlights to illuminate Japanese submarine RO-34 on the surface and opened fire with her 5" guns scoring at least three hits plus gunfire from her 40mm and 20mm cannons. USS O'Bannon also opened fire. The submarine assumed a downward angle by stern and sank. Afterwards, Strong dropped two patterns of depth charges and her crew observed debris rising to the surface at roughly Lat at 10°05′S Long 162°08′E.

On May 7, 1943 in the early morning, Task Force 18 (TF 18) Strong escorted three destroyer minelayers laid mines in Blackett Strait between Kolombangara and Arundel. Later that morning four Japanese destroyers entered the area and one was sunk and two damaged and later sunk by aircraft and the fourth badly damaged but escaped.

On May 12, 1943 to May 13, 1943, Strong and Task Force 18 (TF 18) bombard Kolombangara, Enogai and Rice Anchorage. Afterwards, Strong performed escort and patrol duty off Guadalcanal.

On June 16, 1943 in the afternoon Strong was halfway between Guadalcanal and Tulagi when a Japanese air raid by approximately 15 D3A Val dive bombers approached from the direction of Koli Point and began shallow glide bombing runs with Strong the nearest ship. Between 2:14pm to 2:21pm, the destroyer claimed three shot down.

Sinking History
On July 5, 1943 after midnight, Task Force 18 (TF 18) including Strong were supporting the landing by U.S. Marines at Rice Anchorage by shelling targets including Vila-Stanmore on Kolombangara plus Enogai and Bairoko on New Georgia. Searching ahead of the main force, USS Strong and USS Nicholas (DD-449) entered Bairoko Harbor and shelled the area between 12:30am to 12:40am.

Meanwhile, four Japanese destroyer Nagatsuki, Niizuki, Satsuki and Yunagi were on a high speed troop transport "Tokyo Express" run bound for Kolombangara Island but the mission was aborted when they spotted U.S. warships. From long range, the destroyers fired a salvo of Type 93 Long Lance torpedoes aimed at USS Strong and USS Nicholas. A torpedo from Niizuki from 11 nautical miles away hit Strong at 12:49am in what is believed to be the longest successful torpedo shot in the history of Naval warfare.

At 12:49am, Strong's gunnery officer spotted a torpedo wake. Before he had time to notify the bridge, the torpedo hit the port side aft and exploded causing the destroyer to settle rapidly with a 40° to 60° list to starboard. Coming to the destroyer's aid, USS Chevalier DD-451 intentionally rammed her bow and threw nets and lines onto the sinking destroyer and over the next seven minutes rescued 241 of her crew.

Meanwhile, Japanese 140mm naval guns on Enogai illuminated the destroyers with star shells, and then opened fire with high explosive shells. In response, USS O'Bannon (DD-450) began counter-battery fire in an effort to silence the enemy guns but their shells were soon hitting Strong and caused USS Chevalier DD-451 to cease rescue operations.

Strong broke in half before sinking into Kula Gulf at roughly Lat 8°05'S, Long 157°15'E. While sinking, several of her depth charges exploded, causing further injuries and loss of life. In total, 46 died. Officially, USS Strong was struck from the Navy list on July 15, 1943.

Shipwreck
During 2018, RV Petrel searched for USS Strong unsuccessfully.

Ob February 6, 2019 RV Petrel led by Robert Kraft used sonar and underwater imaging to locate the shipwreck of USS Strong on the sea floor at a depth of 980' / 380m in Kula Gulf north of New Georgia. A Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) captured video documentation of the shipwreck and confirmed it to be USS Strong. The shipwreck is broken up with the forward section heavily damaged and laying on the port side with a a compact debris field that comprises the rest of the destroyer. The ROV's high definition footage shows the propeller, bridge laying on it starboard side, 5" 38 caliber main gun barrel was uploaded to YouTube "Wreckage of the USS Strong Located in the Kula Gulf" February 25, 2019.

Awards
Strong received two battle stars for World War II service.

Memorials
Former commander, Rear Admiral Joseph H. Wellings passed away on March 28, 1988 at age 84. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery at section 30, site 2029 RH.

The missing crew are memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing. Each earned the Purple Heart, posthumously.

Hedrick also earned the Silver Star and has a memorial marker at Machpelah Cemetery in Mount Sterling, KY.

After the loss of this destroyer, USS Strong (DD-758/DE-758) was the second USN ship with this name until 1973 when transfered to Brazil as Rio Grande do Norte (D-37) until sunk 1997.

Relatives
Tambrie Johnson (great-niece of William Clay Hedrick Jr.)
My great uncle died on the USS Strong DD-467 on July 5, 1943 in the Kula Gulf of the Solomon Islands. I'd like to alert other Strong family so they may have a memorial built for their sailor."

References
NARA Bombardment of Kula Gulf Area & Sinking of Strong, 7/5/43
Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) - Strong I (DD-467)
NavSource - USS Strong DD-467
Destroyer History Foundation - USS Strong DD 467
Project USS Strong DD 467
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - William C. Hedrick Jr.
FindAGrave - Ens William Clay “Billy” Hedrick, Jr (photo, memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - RADM Joseph Harold Wellings (grave photo)
YouTube "Wreckage of the USS Strong Located in the Kula Gulf" February 25, 2019
GeekWire "Lost in 1943, the USS Strong is found again by Paul Allen’s Petrel research vessel" February 25, 2019
Naval History and Heritage Command "H-027-1: There Are No Headstones at Sea—The Search for Wasp and Hornet" by Samuel J. Cox, director NHHC, March 2019
"The 2018 expedition searched for, but was unable to locate, the destroyer USS Strong (DD-467), sunk in the southern Kula Gulf by what is believed to be the longest successful torpedo shot in history (11 nautical miles) by a Japanese Type-93 “Long Lance” torpedo. Petrel would subsequently locate Strong on 26 February 2019."
Fold3 USS Strong DD-467 (photos)

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Last Updated
August 1, 2022

 

SCUBA
980' / 380m
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