Naval History and Heritage Command

National Museum of the U.S. Navy

Invasion of Saipan:  June 15-July 9, 1944

Following intensive naval gunfire and carrier-based aircraft bombing on June 15, 1944, Task Force 52 landed U.S. Marines on Saipan.  This invasion was the first relatively large and heavily defended land mass in the Central Pacific to be assaulted by U.S. amphibious might.   Task Force 52 was commanded by Vice Admiral Richmond K. Turner, USN, and the Marines were led by Lieutenant General Holland M. Smith, USMC.  Before the landing, U.S. Navy Underwater Demolition Teams cleared the beaches and secured the landing areas.   The Marines met a fierce enemy and advances were slow as many of the Japanese hid in caves and strongly resisted the Americans.  During the invasion, USS Tennessee (BB-43) was damaged by a shore battery.  The island was secured on July 9 and demonstrated the American dominance in the region. 

Image: 80-G-307702:  Invasion of Saipan, June-July 1944.  Rear Admiral Harry W. Hill, USN, possibly aboard USS Rocky Mount (AGC-3), observing invasion operations on Saipan.   SM1/C R.C. Preston on lookout, June 1944.  Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the U.S. Navy.