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USS South Dakota (BB 57)

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USS South Dakota (BB-57), 1942-1962

USS South Dakota, lead ship of a class of 35,000-ton battleships, was built at Camden, New Jersey. She was commissioned in March 1942 and in August was transferred to the Pacific where she was soon involved in the Guadalcanal Campaign. On 26 October1942, her anti-aircraft guns played a prominent role in the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, during which her forward sixteen-inch gun turret was hit by a Japanese bomb. Shortly thereafter, she collided with USS Mahan (DD-364). Damage from these incidents was repaired locally, and she was heavily engaged, and damaged again, during the 14-15 November battleship night action off Guadalcanal, a battle that effectively ended Japan's plans to retake that strategic island.

Following repairs in the United States, South Dakota operated in the Atlantic from February into August 1943, including service with the British Home Fleet. She then returned to the Pacific and took part in the Gilberts and Marshalls invasions in November 1943-February 1944. The battleship operated with the fast carriers during raids on Japanese bases during that time and into the Spring of 1944. She next participated in the June 1944 Marianas Campaign, using her heavy guns to shell enemy positions on Saipan and Tinian. In the Battle of the Philippine Sea on 19 June, she was hit by another Japanese bomb.

Another stateside overhaul prepared South Dakota for further Pacific combat operations. From October 1944 to the end of World War II over ten months later, she screened carrier task forces during strikes in the Western Pacific that ranged from the South China Sea to Japan. The invasions of Leyte, Luzon, Iwo Jima and Okinawa were among these operations. In March and April 1945, South Dakota's guns joined in bombarding Okinawa. She shelled targets in the Japanese Home Islands in July and August, during the final acts of the Pacific War, and was present in Tokyo Bay on 2 September 1945 during the Formal Surrender of Japan. South Dakota returned to the United States soon thereafter and was decommissioned in January 1947. She remained inactive until October 1962, when she was sold for scrapping.