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Indiana II (BB-58)



Rear Adm. Badger transferred his flag in command of TU 12.5.2 from battleship Iowa (BB-61) to Indiana on 8 January 1945. Destroyer Borie (DD-704) and destroyer minelayer Gwin (DM-33) escorted Indiana from Pearl Harbor on 10 January 1945. The battleship charted a course for Eniwetok, tested her Mk 18, 40, and 46 fuse 5-inch antiaircraft projectiles while en route, and anchored in berth K-6 at Eniwetok. She stood out on 18 January and steamed toward Saipan with TU 12.5.2, anchoring in Berth LOVE-52 two days later.

Indiana set out in company with Rear Adm. Badger’s TG 94.9 for Iwo Jima on 22 January 1945. She conducted antiaircraft practice and fueled destroyers while en route, and approached the island on 24 January. A barrier patrol of Consolidated PB4Y Liberators preceded the ships. Indiana, three heavy cruisers, seven destroyers, and Gwin bombarded the eastern, southern, and western coasts of Iwo Jima. USAAF Consolidated B-24 Liberators, escorted by Bell P-39 Airacobras and Lockheed P-38 Lightnings, also attacked the Japanese on the island. Destroyers Dunlap (DD-384) and Fanning (DD-385) sank all three ships of a small Japanese convoy that arrived that morning northeast of Iwo Jima, transport I-Go Yoneyama Maru and auxiliary minesweepers Keinan Maru and No. 7 Showa Maru.

A Nakajima B6N1 carrier attack plane approached the task group at 1317, but a barrage of antiaircraft fire drove off the Jill. Another Jill closely approached the formation at 1405, and Gwin subsequently shot down the intruder. Eyewitnesses failed to agree on whether this plane was the first bomber that came about for an additional pass, or a second aircraft. Indiana opened fire against the island at 1437 and ceased fire at 1555 due to poor visibility, shooting a total of 200 of her 16-inch H.C. shells. The ship came about the next day, anchoring in berth No. 42, Northern Anchorage, Ulithi, on 26 January 1945. Rear Adm. Badger shifted his flag to battleship New Jersey (BB-62). Indiana remained in port through the final days of January, standing out only to shift to berth No. 16 for antiaircraft exercises.

Indiana sailed with TF 58 on 10 February 1945, and joined TG 58.1, under the command of Rear Adm. Joseph J. Clark, a Cherokee Native American. The group steamed toward Tōkyō, and aircraft carriers Bennington (CV-20) and Wasp (CV-18) and Belleau Wood launched airstrikes against Japanese military targets in the Tōkyō area from a position 120 miles southeast of the enemy capital on 16 February. Indiana supported additional air strikes against Chichi Jima, Haha Jima, and Iwo Jima, and a second raid on Tōkyō on 25 February. TF-58 launched air raids against the Japanese forces on Okinawa Shima and the adjacent islands on 1 March.


A Vought F4U-1D Corsair (BuNo 82476), piloted by 1st Lt. Robert E. Washbon, USMCR, of Marine Fighting Squadron (VMF) 217, embarked on board Wasp, crashed three miles west of Naha, Okinawa, on 1 March 1945. A Kingfisher from Indiana, piloted by Lt. Raymond W. Stanley, USNR, rescued Washbon under enemy fire. A communications plane, crewed by Lt. j.g. Everett R. Backman, USNR, and Aviation Radioman 3d Class Carl H. Matlock, USNR, also took part in the SAR. Stanley later received the Silver Star, Backman the Bronze Star, and Matlock, who repaired the radio in flight when ground fire damaged the equipment, was awarded the Air Medal. Two days later, Indiana returned to berth B-2 Ulithi.

On 14 March, Indiana sortied with TU 59.1.3 along with Massachusetts, North Carolina, South Dakota, and Washington, and sailed north toward Kyūshū, Japan. TG 58.1 commenced air strikes against Japanese forces there from 17 March. At one point that day, the ship sounded an air alert but no attack materialized. Indiana sounded general quarters when enemy planes flew over the task group and dropped flares, at 0451 on 18 March 1945. At 0519 Indiana opened fire and shot down an unidentified enemy plane, which splashed into the water 1,500 yards from the ship. A burning enemy fighter dove toward aircraft carrier Hornet (CV-12) at 0528. Gunfire from multiple ships splashed the attacker in the center of the formation.

The carriers began launching air strikes against Kyūshū at 0543. At 0726, a Yokosuka D4Y1 Type 2 (Suisei: Comet) Judy approached unobserved and dropped a bomb off the starboard bow of Hornet. Antiaircraft fire splashed the Judy. Hornet shot down a second Judy that dove on the carrier at 1311. Indiana and TF 58 steamed toward Kure on 19 March for additional airstrikes. The ship and her task group successfully defended against an air raid at 0330. Off Shikoku a Japanese kamikaze suicide plane and a bomber damaged Wasp, killing 101 men and wounding 269, but for several days the ship continued in action before retiring for repairs. A Japanese bomber dropped two 550-pound bombs on aircraft carrier Franklin (CV-13) that ignited fires and exploded ordnance and fuel among aircraft spotted on the flight deck or parked below. Despite 724 men killed or missing and 265 wounded, following brief tows, Franklin sailed under her own power to New York, N.Y.

Indiana steamed to Okinawa on 23 March 1945, where TF 59 was to conduct air strikes. She fired 180 16-inch H.C. projectiles against the Japanese defenders on the island on 24 March. The battleship then returned to the main formation, remaining in support while planes flew against Okinawa and Minami on 25 March. On 27 March, the Task Force conducted air operations against Amami Gunto. Enemy fighters attacked in the morning and Indiana sounded on air alert (0620–0748).

A rescue Kingfisher, flown by Lt. Stanley and with the back seat empty, launched from Indiana to recover an F6F-5 (BuNo 71600) of VF-45, embarked on board small aircraft carrier San Jacinto (CVL-30), at 1152 on 27 March 1945. Japanese ground fire shot down the Hellcat near the plane’s target and it crashed into the water. Lt. j.g. Frank M. Haas, Jr., USNR, and Chief Aviation Machinist’s Mate Peter J. Cirafice, USNR, manned a communications plane, and Bennington launched four fighters to escort the seaplane. Stanley reached the area of the crash but discovered that the pilot, Lt. j.g. Billy J. J. Pettigrew, USNR, had died, and returned to the battleship with Pettigrew’s identification tags at 1827. The communications plane located and picked up the second downed pilot but capsized on takeoff. Planes and a rescue submarine searched unsuccessfully for Haas and Cirafice, and the rough seas rendered further search impossible.

Indiana operated with TG 58.1 in support of the battle for Okinawa throughout April. The battleship faced several kamikaze threats, all of which were shot down. The Japanese dispatched the First Diversion Attack Force across the East China Sea toward Okinawa. These ships, including battleship Yamato, were to lure U.S. carriers from the island to facilitate kamikaze attacks. They carried only enough fuel to reach the battle area, however, and the Japanese intended to beach the vessels and use them as coastal batteries, and to deploy many of their sailors ashore to fight as infantry.

Carrier planes attacked the First Diversion Attack Force throughout the forenoon and afternoon watches on 7 April 1945, and sank battleship Yamato, light cruiser Yahagi, and destroyers Asashimo, Hamakaze, Isokaze, and Kasumi, and damaged destroyers Fuyuzuki, Hatsushimo, Suzutsuki, and Yukikaze. Antiaircraft fire downed ten U.S. planes. Kamikazes took advantage of the diversion but the ongoing attrition limited the raid to only 114 planes. The Corsairs and Hellcats of the U.S. CAP splashed some of the attackers, and the ships heeled over sharply in high speed turns to avoid the enemy aircraft, but a kamikaze crashed Hancock and started a large fire at 1212. Hancock reported the fire under control at 1231, and at 1248 extinguished the blaze. The carrier lost 62 men killed and 71 wounded but continued the fight. Essex splashed a Judy on her starboard beam at 1340, and a minute later, South Dakota shot down a Kate on the battleship’s starboard beam.


Photo Indiana with TF 58.1 on 12 February 1945
Caption: Indiana fires a salvo from her forward 16-inch guns at the plant at Kamaishi on 14 July 1945. A second before, South Dakota, from which this photograph is taken, fired the initial salvo of the first naval gunfire bombardment of the Japanese Home Islands. The superstructure of Massachusetts rises behind Indiana, and a heavy cruiser, either Chicago or Quincy, is visible in the left center distance. (National Archives Photograph 80-G-K-6035, Still Pictures Branch, National Archives & Records Administration, College Park, Md.)

A Mitsubishi A6M2 Type 0 carrier fighter (kanjō sentōki or kansen) appeared ahead of Indiana during the afternoon watch on 12 April 1945. The Zeke headed through heavy antiaircraft fire directly toward the ship’s pilothouse, but crashed 50 yards from her beam at 1528. Minutes later, a Nakajima Ki-43 (Hayabusa: Peregrine Falcon) Oscar began to circle ahead of the ship, pursued by a Hellcat. The Oscar attempted to crash Indiana but antiaircraft fire splashed the attacker 200 yards off the starboard quarter. The kamikazes inflicted no damage on this date, but a fragment struck a Marine in his thigh, and a flash from one of Indiana’s five-inch batteries burned a sailor “about the face.” The battleship shot down three additional Oscars on 14 April.

Indiana sounded an air alert during the 1st and 2d dog watches on 15 April, and on three separate occasions the following morning manned her battle stations. The ship mistakenly fired on two Hellcats that approached her in the last reported position of enemy fighters at 0959. Indiana identified the planes at a range of 5,000 yards ceased firing without reported hits on the Hellcats. The battleship sounded another air alert at 1836, and at 2101 several groups of flares fell close to her. Indiana secured from air alert for the final time that day at 2202, and subsequently rendezvoused with TG 58.8 for refueling.

BatDiv-8 of TG 58.1 anchored in Ulithi from 1 to 9 May 1945. Capt. Francis P. Old relieved Capt. Keliher as commanding officer of Indiana at 0825 on 1 May 1945. The ship sailed to take part in air strikes against Kyūshū, on 12 May. She sounded four air alerts on 14 May, and at 0704 shot down a Zeke that dove on the formation. The enemy shot down an F6F-5 (BuNo 77943) of VF-82, embarked on board Bennington, off Minami Daito Shima on 16 May. Indiana launched a Kingfisher, manned by Lt. Stanley and Aviation Radioman L.C. Hawn, to act as a communication aircraft for a rescue plane launched from Massachusetts. The rescue plane recovered the downed pilot, Lt. Comdr. E.W. Hessel, and Stanley and Hawn returned to Indiana at 1312.

On 27 May, 1945, a change in command from the Fifth Fleet, Adm. Spruance commanding, to the Third Fleet, Adm. Halsey commanding, took place that adjusted all task number designa­tions from the 50’s to the 30’s. Indiana sailed with Rear Adm. Clark’s TG 38.1.

Observers noted “a weak cyclonic circulation” in a position approximately 250 miles north of the Palaus on 1 June 1945.  The circulation moved northwestward at about ten knots, and weather planes flew patrols to observe the progress of the storm, beginning on 2 June. The following day, the storm grew into a typhoon and proceeded toward the Ryūkyū Islands. USN planes flying from the Philippines and Okinawa and a plane of the USAAF’s XXI Bomber Command operating from the Marianas tracked the tempest.

The typhoon advanced to a point about 300 miles south of Okinawa and appeared to break up, but a secondary, and more violent typhoon, replaced the primary typhoon. The second storm separated from the original disturbance and moved rapidly in a northeasterly direction, slamming into the Third Fleet on 5 June. Advance Headquarters Pacific Fleet on Guam reported that “mountainous” seas crashed into the ships.

Indiana executed at least seven course changes in an attempt to avoid the storm’s track. The anemometer reached its maximum reading at 0537, when winds whipped around the ship at 80 knots. At 0704, the eye of the typhoon passed directly over Indiana’s task group, and her barometer read 28.29 inches. Minutes later, the battleship lost steering control when seawater poured through the engine room ventilation and blower intakes, grounding out her main switch board. The storm tore a Kingfisher from its catapult and the plane disappeared into the maelstrom. The crew regained control at 0746, and at 1523 the tempest passed over the fleet, gaining momentum as it moved northeastward at a speed estimated at 30 knots, and passing between Iwo Jima and the Japanese home islands before dissipating. An assessment revealed otherwise superficial damage to ship.

The typhoon damaged 36 vessels: battleships Alabama, Indiana, Massachusetts, and Missouri (BB-63); Bennington and Hornet; small aircraft carriers Belleau Wood and San Jacinto; escort aircraft carriers Attu (CVE-102), Bougainville (CVE-100), Salamaua (CVE-96), and Windham Bay (CVE-92); heavy cruisers Baltimore (CA-68), Pittsburgh (CA-72), and Quincy (CA-71); light cruisers Atlanta (CL-104), Detroit (CL-8), Duluth (CL-87), and San Juan (CL-54), destroyers Blue (DD-744), Brush (DD-745), Dashiell (DD-659), De Haven (DD-727), John Rodgers (DD-574), Maddox (DD-731), McKee (DD-575), Samuel N. Moore (DD-747), Schroeder (DD-501), Stockham (DD-683), and Taussig (DD-746); destroyer escorts Conklin (DE-439), Donaldson (DE-44), and Hilbert (DE-742); oilers Lackawanna (AO-40) and Millicoma (AO-73); and ammunition ship Shasta (AE-6).

Inadequate weather reporting and communications hampered the admirals’ responses; however, a court of inquiry found Halsey, Vice Adm. John S. McCain, and Rear Admirals Donald B. Beary and Clark negligent in their implementation of precautions learned as a result of a typhoon on 18 December 1944, noting a “remarkable similarity between the situations, actions and results” of the admirals concerning the two storms. Normal operations against Okinawa resumed two days later.

Indiana supported air strikes against the Japanese air base at Kanoya, Kyūshū, on 8 June. The following day, Indiana sailed in company with Alabama and Massachusetts, screened by destroyers Collett (DD-730), De Haven, Lyman K. Swenson (DD-729), Maddox, and Mansfield (DD-728), to bombard Minami Daito Jima. The battleships sailed in column while surrounded by the destroyers and shelled the island, and repeated the bombardment the next day.

Indiana anchored in San Pedro Bay in the Philippines for replenishment and upkeep on 11 June 1945. She joined TF 38 in early July, and on 9 July steamed toward Tōkyō. The ship supported carrier air strikes against the mainland on 10 July, and then participated in the first gunfire attack on the Japanese home islands by heavy warships during WWII. The ship joined TU 34.8.1 when it formed at 0658 on 14 July 1945. The bombardment group comprised Indiana, Massachusetts, and South Dakota, heavy cruisers Chicago (CA-136) and Quincy, and nine destroyers. Rear Adm. John F. Shafroth broke his flag in command of BatDiv2 in South Dakota. The ships bombarded Kamaishi Steel Works at Kamaishi, Honshū. The concern comprised one of the seven major plants of the Japan Iron Co., and the complex of iron works and warehouses lay in the narrow valley of the Otatari River, surrounded by rugged crests that hindered the barrage.

The ship fired 271 of her 16-inch H.C. rounds (1210–1418). A heavy cloud of smoke prevented spotter planes from reporting on the results of the shelling, but a destroyer approached the area the following day and observed from a range of 40 miles that fires continued to burn from Kamaishi. Indiana then supported carrier air strikes on the Japanese home islands. BatDiv-8 detached from TG 38.1 and again formed TU 34.8.1, to bombard Hamamatsu, Honshū. The raiders consisted of Indiana, Massachusetts, and South Dakota, heavy cruisers Chicago, Quincy, and Saint Paul (CA-73), and ten destroyers. A British task unit, TU 37.1.2, consisting of battleship King George V (41), and destroyers Ulysses (R-69), Undine (R-42), and Urania (R-05), detached from British TF 37 at noon and then rendezvoused with Shafroth. At one point during their voyage, Ulysses and Urania collided. The impact slightly damaged Ulysses, but both ships continued in the operation. Indiana opened fire on Hamamatsu at 2319, sending 270 of her 16-inch H.C. shells at the Japanese Musical Instrument Co., which manufactured aircraft propellers.

BatDiv8 was absorbed into Support Unit 38.1.2 on 1 August 1945, and operated with TF 37 while TF 38 launched air strikes and shore bombardments on Japanese targets including Honshū, Hokkaido, and Kyūshū. Indiana launched an OS2U-3 (BuNo 5473), manned by Lt. j.g. Backman and Aviation Radioman 3d Class Robert B. Watson, for a routine training flight at 0802 on 7 August. The ship reported the weather as “excellent,” but when the Kingfisher reached an altitude of 600 feet it went into a nose-low progressive spiral as though the stick was locked forward and to the left. The plane flew through a 450˚ turn and crashed when it attained an inverted attitude. The Kingfisher struck the water at a distance of eight miles from the Task Group formation, and sank within a minute. Indiana’s second seaplane landed in the area, but the crew observed only “an oil slick, a piece of canvas, and some air bubbles.” The lack of evidence and survivors precluded a detailed investigation.

BatDiv8 carried out a second bombardment against Kamaishi on 9 August 1945. Indiana sounded general quarters at 1130, and the battleships formed into column. The ship launched her Kingfishers to spot the fall of shot, and opened fire at 1246, firing 117 AP projectiles and 153 of her 16-inch H.C. shells until 1445. Accurate battle damage assessment again proved difficult because of the poor visibility and the long range.

Indiana received word of the Japanese unconditional surrender at 0805 on 15 August 1945, while she sailed en route to support air strikes against the Tōkyō area. TF 38 quickly recalled two air raids before they reached their targets. Indiana subsequently took part in refueling, forming with ships of TF 38 for photographs, and transferring men. Meanwhile, TF 38’s aircraft carriers launched planes that dropped supplies of food and medicine to POW camps within Japan.

Indiana’s Marine Detachment, Bluejackets Landing Force, Standard Communications Team, and Bomb Disposal Unit transferred to transports (19–21 August). On 30 August, these men participated in the initial Allied occupation of the Japanese home islands. Some of these Sailors and Marines later became part of Naval Headquarters, Yokosuka.

The Japanese formally surrendered on board Missouri in Tōkyō Bay on 2 September 1945. On 5 September, Indiana triumphantly entered Tōkyō Bay, anchoring in berth F66 at 0734. During the morning of 8 September, her crew assembled for inspection by Rear Adm. Shafroth. Indiana served as a transfer point for Allied POWs liberated from Japanese camps, receiving and then transferring a total of seven naval officers, 47 enlisted men, 28 enlisted Marines, 64 naval civilians, and a number of U.S. and Canadian soldiers through 12 September.

Indiana sailed in company with Mansfield from Tōkyō Bay for the U.S. at 1250 on 15 September 1945. The battleship steamed “via the most direct route” at a reduced speed of 18 knots because of a locked No. 3 shaft. Throughout the voyage, crewmen passed the time by engaging in various gunnery and antiaircraft exercises, such as firing at free balloons. Indiana moored to berth H-3 at Pearl Harbor on 22 September, and the following day made for San Francisco. She entered San Francisco Bay and discharged 1,013 passengers on 29 September.

The ship completed repairs in drydock at Hunter’s Point Naval Shipyard (29 September–31 October 1945). She then made for the Pacific Northwest, anchored off Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, discharged her remaining ammunition and inflammables, and moored at Pier No. 3 at the shipyard. Indiana shifted to Drydock No. 5 on 15 November. Capt. Frank R. Talbot relieved Capt. Old as the commanding officer at 0908 on 5 December.

The Navy announced its Postwar Plan Number Two on 29 March 1946. The plan revealed the disposal of battleships Idaho and New Mexico, originally slated for the Sixteenth (Reserve) Fleet, heavy cruisers Augusta, Chester, Louisville, and Portland, and light cruisers Boise, Nashville, Phoenix, and Saint Louis, all already serving with the Sixteenth Fleet. The plan furthermore directed the shift of Massachusetts and South Dakota to the Inactive Atlantic Fleet, and Alabama and Indiana to the Inactive Pacific Fleet. CruDiv-5, comprising heavy cruisers Baltimore, Boston, Canberra, and Quincy, was to shift from the Third Fleet to the Nineteenth Fleet, and CruDiv-14, consisting of light cruisers Cleveland, Columbia, Denver, Manchester, and Montpelier, were to shift from the Fourth Fleet to the Sixteenth Fleet.

Indiana remained inactive with the Bremerton Group Pacific Reserve Fleet until CNO Adm. Arleigh A. Burke designated Alabama, Indiana, Massachusetts, and South Dakota eligible for disposal, on 27 June 1961. SecNav Fred H. Korth recommended that Indiana be stricken from the Navy list on 1 May 1962, effective on 1 June 1962. On 6 Sep 1963, the ship was sold for scrapping to Nicolai Joffe Corp., Beverly Hills, Calif. Tugs towed the battleship to Richmond harbor, Calif., the following month, where the company subsequently scrapped her.

Volunteers arranged for the preservation of artifacts from the ship at locations within Indiana including: the battleship’s anchor at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum at Fort Wayne; her bell at the Heslar Naval Armory in Indianapolis; the mainmast at Memorial Stadium at the University of Indiana, Bloomington; and the great wheel at Shortridge High School.

Indiana earned nine battle stars for her service in WWII.

Rewritten and expanded by Joseph M. Soriero and Mark L. Evans

Published: Tue Jul 21 15:08:09 EDT 2015