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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
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 under the command of Commander Joseph H. Wellings in command. Afterwards, underwent a shakedown cruise.
On October 15, 1942 departed with a convoy to San Juan, Puerto Rico then returned to Norfolk, VA arriving on October 27, 1942 and departed two days later for New York.
On November 13, 1942, Strong joined convoy UGS-2 bound for North Africa and arrived at Casablanca on November 29, 1942 and returned to New York with convoy GUF-2. Afterwards, to Norfolk, VA then departed on December 27, 1942 via the Panama Canal for the South Pacific and refueld 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 joined Task Force 67 (TF 67) as part of the destroyer screen for a force of four cruisers.
During the night of May 12–13, 1943, Strong and the task force bombarded 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 flight of approximately 15 Japanese 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.
On July 5, 1943 in the morning 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 also Enogai and Bairoko on New Georgia. Ahead of the main force, Strong and Nicholas (DD-449) entered Bairoko Harbor to search ahead of the force and shelled the area between 12:30am to 12:40am.
Meanwhile, Japanese destroyer Niizuki fired a salvo of Type-93 “Long Lance” torpedos aimed at both destroyers from 11 nautical miles away in what is believed to be the longest sucessful torpedo shot in the history of Naval warfare.
At 12:49am, Strong's gunnery officer sighted a torpedo wake. Before he had time to notify the bridge, the torpedo hit Strong's port side aft. Damaged, Strong began to settle rapidly with a 40° to 60° list to starboard. After being hit, USS Chevalier DD-451 intentionally rammed Strong's bow to enable her to throw nets and lines to the stricken ship and rescued 241 of her crew over seven minutes.
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 began counter-battery fire in an effort to silence the enemy guns but their shells were soon hitting Strong and forced USS Chevalier DD-451 to cease rescue operations.
Strong broke in half before sinking into Kula Gulf. As the destroyer sank, several of her depth charges exploded, causing further injuries and loss of life. In total, forty-six men died aboard the ship. Officially, USS Strong was struck from the Navy list on July 15, 1943. Strong received two battle stars for World War II service.
Fates of the Crew
A total of 241 of her crew were rescued by USS Chevalier DD-451.
During 2018, RV Petrel searched for USS Strong unscuessfully.
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.
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 members are memorialized at Manila Ameican 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.
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."
NARA Bombardment of Kula Gulf Area & Sinking of Strong, 7/5/43
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)
Thanks to Tambrie Johnson and Katherine H. Rasdorf for additional information
980' / 380m
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