Allied Warships

USS South Dakota (BB 57)

Battleship of the South Dakota class

USS South Dakota during the war.

NavyThe US Navy
ClassSouth Dakota 
PennantBB 57 
Built byNew York Shipbuilding Corp. (Camden, New Jersey, U.S.A.) 
Ordered15 Dec 1938 
Laid down5 Jul 1939 
Launched7 Jun 1941 
Commissioned20 Mar 1942 
End service31 Jan 1947 

The South Dakota was armed with only 16 5-inch 38 calibre guns; 4 turrets port and starboard, instead of the usual 5 turrets port and starboard as in her sister ships. Instead of the two 5 inch turrets this ship had quadruple 40mm bofors mounts each side of the smoke stack. There was space limitation aboard this ship, as she had extra accommodation as a fleet flagship. It altered her outward appearance slightly. Her smoke stack had more of a squat looking appearance; as if partly buried in her superstructure. Her other distinguishing features was her overall dark sea-blue camouflage. And another prominent feature was the quadruple 40mm bofor mount placed on her foredeck, right up on the bow.

Operated in the Pacific through most of WWII, mainly in support of the fast carrier forces, and some shore bombardment duty. Sustained moderate damage in a night gun action with the Japanese battlecruiser Kirishima and escorting cruisers off Guadalcanal, 15 November 1942; overhaul and repairs at New York Navy Yard completed February 1942. Operated in the Atlantic, with the Royal Navy, February-August 1943, then returned to the Pacific. Received minor bomb damage 19 June 1944.

Decommissioned 31 January 1947.
Stricken 1 June 1962.
Sold 25 October 1962 to be broken up for scrap.


Commands listed for USS South Dakota (BB 57)

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1Capt. Thomas Leigh Gatch, USN20 Mar 19421 Feb 1943
2T/R.Adm. Lynde Dupuy McCormick, USN1 Feb 194318 Sep 1943
3Capt. Allen Edward Smith, USN18 Sep 194317 Mar 1944
4T/R.Adm. Ralph Smith Riggs, USN17 Mar 194430 Nov 1944
5T/Cdr. Carl Frederick Stillman, USN30 Nov 19449 Dec 1944
6T/Capt. Charles Bowers Momsen, USN9 Dec 194430 Jul 1945
7T/Capt. Carl Frederick Stillman, USN30 Jul 194517 Aug 1945
8T/Capt. Emmet Peter Forrestel, USN17 Aug 1945Dec 1945

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Notable events involving South Dakota include:

14 Jul 1943
During 14/15 July 1943, USS South Dakota (Capt. L.D. McCormick, USN), HMS Renown (Capt. W.E. Parry, CB, RN), HMS Diomede (Capt. H.T.W. Grant, RCN), HMS Onslow (Capt. J.A. McCoy, DSO, RN), HMS Obedient (Lt.Cdr. H. Unwin, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Oribi (Lt.Cdr. J.C.A. Ingram, DSC, RN), HMS Mahratta (Lt.Cdr. E.A.F. Drought, DSC, RN), HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN) and HMS Saumarez (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC, RN) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. These included night exercises.

On completion of these exercises HMS Diomede proceeded to Rosyth. (1)

12 Feb 1944
Task Force 58 departed Majuro Atoll for operation HAILSTONE, a raid against the Japanese base at Truk Atoll.

Task Force 58 was made up of the following ships;

Task Group 58.1
Aircraft carriers USS Enterprise (Capt. M.B. Gardner, USN), USS Yorktown (Capt. R.E. Jennings, USN), light carrier USS Belleau Wood (Capt. A.M. Pride, USN), light cruisers Santa Fé (Capt. J. Wright, USN), Mobile (Capt. C.J. Wheeler, USN), Biloxi (Capt. D.M. McGurl, USN), USS Oakland (Capt. W.K. Phillips, USN) and the destroyers USS Clarence K. Bronson (Lt.Cdr. J.C. McGoughran, USN), USS Cotten (Cdr. F.T. Sloat, USN), USS Dortch (Cdr. R.C. Young, USN), USS Gatling (Cdr. A.F. Richardson, USN), USS Healy (Cdr. J.C. Atkeson, USN), USS Cogswell (Cdr. H.T. Deutermann, USN), USS Caperton (Cdr. W.J. Miller, USN), USS Ingersoll (Cdr. A.C. Veasey, USN), USS Knapp (Cdr. F. Virden, USN).

Task Group 58.2
Aircraft carriers USS Essex (Capt. R.A. Ofstie, USN), USS Intrepid (Capt. T.L. Sprague, USN), light carrier USS Cabot (Capt. M.F. Schoeffel, USN), heavy cruisers USS Wichita (Capt J.J. Mahoney, USN), USS Baltimore (Capt. W.C. Calhoun, USN), light cruisers USS San Francisco (Capt. H.E. Overesch, USN), USS San Diego (Capt. L.J. Hudson, USN), destroyers USS Owen (Cdr. R.W. Wood, USN), USS Miller (Cdr. T.H. Kobey, USN), USS The Sullivans (Cdr. K.M. Gentry, USN), USS Stephen Potter (Cdr. C.H. Crichton, USN), USS Hickox (Cdr. W.M. Sweetser, USN), USS Hunt (Cdr. H.A. Knoertzer, USN), USS Lewis Hancock (Cdr. C.H. Lyman, 3rd, USN), USS Stembel (Cdr. W.L. Tagg, USN) and USS Stack (Lt.Cdr. R.E. Wheeler, USN).

Task Group 58.3
Aircraft carrier USS Bunker Hill (Capt. T.P. Jeter, USN), light carriers USS Monterey (Capt. L.T. Hundt, USN), USS Cowpens (Capt. R.P. McConnell, USN), battleships USS North Carolina (Capt. F.P. Thomas, USN), USS Massachusetts (Capt. T.D. Ruddock, Jr., USN), USS South Dakota (Capt. A.E. Smith, USN), USS Alabama (Capt. F.D. Kirtland, USN), USS Iowa (Capt. J.L. McCrea, USN), USS New Jersey (Capt. C.F. Holden, USN), heavy cruisers USS Minneapolis (Capt. R.W. Bates, USN), USS New Orleans (Capt. S.R. Shumaker, USN), destroyers USS Izard (Cdr. E.K. van Swearingen, USN), USS Charrette (Cdr. E.S. Karpe, USN), USS Conner (Cdr. W.E. Kaitner, USN), USS Bell (Cdr. L.C. Petross, USN), USS Burns (Cdr. D.T. Eller, USN), USS Bradford (Cdr. R.L. Morris, USN), USS Brown (Cdr. T.H. Copeman, USN), USS Cowell (Cdr. C.W. Parker, USN), USS Wilson (Lt.Cdr. C.K. Duncan, USN), USS Sterett (Lt.Cdr. F.J.L. Blouin, USN) and USS Lang (Cdr. H. Payson, Jr., USN).

Media links

US fast battleships 1936-47

Lawrence Burr
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US battleships 1941-1963

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(£ 23.07)


  1. ADM 53/117389 + ADM 53/118432 + log of USS South Dakota for July 1943

ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.

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