HISTORY OF U.S.S. INDIANA
(Part 2 of 2)
On 19 January 1944 the battleship, along with the rest of the task group, put to sea to make rendezvous with elements of TF 58, the fast carrier task force under the overall command of Vice Admiral Marc A. "Pete" Mitscher. Becoming part of TG 58.1, Indiana screened the fast carriers in her group as they launched air strikes on Taroa and Kwajalein in the waning days of January 1944. Indiana, together with Massachusetts and Washington; left the formation with four destroyers as screen and shelled Kwajalein Atoll on the 30th. Further air strikes followed the next day.
The only serious damage to the Indiana during lengthy operations with the fast carrier task force resulted from a collision with the Battleship Washington during the Marshall Islands campaign, when the Indiana turned in front of the Washington during darken-ship conditions while maneuvering prior to morning refueling operations. At 0429 on 01 Feb 1944, the Washington hit the Indiana on the starboard quarter at frame 107 at an angle of about 26 degrees. Damage to the Indiana extended down from the main deck to the turn of the bilge through the three outer shells, aft to frame 142, and on the main deck from frame 103 to frame 165. A total of 14 voids were flooded and 13 fuel tanks damaged. The starboard outboard shaft was damaged beyond repair and the inboard screw on the starboard side was damaged. Power and degaussing cables were severed, and severe structural damage to interior longitudinal bulkheads within the side protective system extended from frame 106 to 130. Shell plating was dished in between the second and third decks and severely ruptured above the second deck. The starboard range-finder hood and the range finder on the after main-battery turret were damaged, two 40 mm quadruple mounts and fourteen 20 mm single mounts were destroyed, and two 20 mm mounts were damaged. The starboard catapult and an OS2U-3 seaplane were lost. The resulting starboard list was corrected by flooding port voids. Three men were killed and one was injured. Both ships, escorted by four destroyers, sailed to Majuro Lagoon at six knots, arriving on 02 Feb for temporary repairs.When morning came the ship slipped into Majuro Lagoon, which had been taken from the Japanese just 48 hours before. After temporary repairs had been made, she stood out of the lagoon on 7 February, enroute to Pearl Harbor. INDIANA limped to Pearl Harbor, arriving there on the 13th and she went into the Navy Yard for repairs.
The damage sustained by the Indiana occurred at the most vulnerable location within the armored citadel length. Indeed, a detailed vulnerability study conducted early in 1945 concluded that, if the unprotected stern were riddled, flooding the third deck area between bulkheads 113 and 128 ½ would probably result in a South Dakota-class battleship sinking by the stern. This is precisely the area were the Indiana was hit by the Washington. In this instance the Indiana's holding bulkhead remained intact and the ship's longitudinal stability was not jeopardized, However, it appears that a very similar collision, involving damage to the stern as well as this critical compartment, possibly would have been sufficient to cause the ship to sink.
Repairs completed Indiana rejoined famed Task Force 58 for the Truk raid 29-30 April 1944 and bombarded Ponape Island 01 May. In June the battlewagon proceeded to the Marianas with a giant American fleet for the invasion of that strategic group. Indiana supported the air strikes pummeling enemy defenses in the Marianas on the islands of Saipan, Tinian, Guam, Rota, and Pagan. Task Force 58's fliers also attacked twice and damaged a Japanese convoy in the vicinity on 12 June. The following day, Vice Admiral Lee's battleship-destroyer task group was detached from the main body of the force and conducted shore bombardment against enemy installations on Saipan and Tinian. Relieved on the 14th by two task groups under Rear Admirals J. B. Oldendorf and W. L. Ainsworth, Vice Admiral Lee's group retired momentarily. On 16 June, Admiral Mitscher's TF 58 planes bombed Japanese installations on Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands and Chichi Jima and Haha Jima in the Bonins. Meanwhile, marines landed on Saipan under cover of intensive naval gunfire and carrier-based planes. That same day, Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa, commanding the main body of the Japanese Fleet, was ordered to attack and destroy the invasion force in the Marianas. The departure of his carrier group, however, came under the scrutiny of the submarine Redfin (SS-272), as it left Tawi Tawi, the westernmost island in the Sulu Archipelago. Flying Fish (SS-229) also sighted Ozawa's force as it entered the Philippine Sea. Cavalla (SS-244) radioed a contact report on an enemy refueling group on 16 June and continued tracking it as it headed for the Marianas. She again sighted Japanese Combined Fleet units on 18 June.
Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, commanding the 5th Fleet, had meanwhile learned of the Japanese movement and accordingly issued his battle plan. Vice Admiral Lee's force formed a protective screen around the vital fleet carriers. Washington, six other battleships, four heavy cruisers, and 14 destroyers deployed to cover the flattops; on 19 June, the ships came under attack from Japanese carrier-based and land-based planes as the Battle of the Philippine Sea commenced. On 19 June the deluge came, with Task Force 58 under air attack almost continuously. Each ship was sending up a seemingly impenetrable curtain of anti-aircraft fire, but the Japs came on. INDIANA's gunners shot the wing off an enemy plane coming in on the ship from her port quarter and it plunged into the sea near her
SOUTH DAKOTA took a bomb hit on her superstructure and SAN FRANCISCO was smoking from a near miss. However, the Japs were paying a terrific price as plane after plane plunged into the ocean from the task forces combined fire and the combat air patrols.
An enemy torpedo plane came on through INDIANA s concentrated fire and dropped a torpedo, which looked like a sure hit on her starboard side. The plane was downed by the ship s guns but the torpedo came on. Quick1y, INDIANA s guns opened up on the torpedo, which exploded only 50 yards from her side
Another Jap came too close to INDIANA's accurate fire and went down before her guns. Just after noon, an enemy plane dropped a bomb or torpedo which exploded in her wake. Her gunner s then shot the plane s tail off and it spiraled into the sea. Almost at the samc time, another Jap approached on the starboard beam. When it was 100 yards off, It caught fire, swerved up, then dived down and crashed into the battleship s side. Debris scattered over INDIANA s decks, but the only result of this crash was a small dent in the ship s plating
Following another bomb explosion astern, no other enemy planes penetrated the task force s fighter cover, which shot down one entire raid of 15 enemy planes. There were only five casualties aboard, but all were minor shrapnell wounds.
The tremendous firepower of the screen, however, together with the aggressive combat air patrols flown from the American carriers, proved too much for even the aggressive Japanese. The heavy loss of Japanese aircraft, sometimes referred to as the "Marianas Turkey Shoot," caused serious losses in the Japanese naval air arm. During four massive raids, the enemy launched 373 planes-only 130 returned. In addition, 50 land-based bombers from Guam fell in flames. Over 930 American carrier planes were involved in the aerial action; their losses amounted to comparatively few: 29 shot down and six lost operationally without the loss of a single ship in Mitscher's task force.
Only a few of the enemy planes managed to get through the barrage of flak and fighters, one scoring a direct hit on South Dakota-killing 27 and wounding 29. A bomb burst over the flight deck of the carrier Wasp (CV-18), killing one man, wounding 12, and covering her flight deck with bits of phosphorus. Two planes dove on Bunker Hill, one scoring a near miss and the other a hit that holed an elevator, knocking out the hanger deck gasoline system temporarily; killing three and wounding 79. Several fires started were promptly quenched. In addition, Minneapolis (CA-36) and the INDIANA also received slight damage.
Not only did the Japanese lose heavily in planes; two of their carriers were soon on their way to the bottom-Taiho, torpedoed and sunk by Albacore (SS-218); and Shokaku, sunk by Cavalla. Admiral Ozawa, his flagship, Taiho, sunk out from under him, transferred his flag to Zuikaku. (With the sinking of Shokaku, Zuikaku became the last of the six carriers that attacked Pearl Harbor to remain afloat. The first four, Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, and Hityu, were sunk at the battle of Midway. Zuikaku will survive until sacrificed as a diversion at the battle of Leyte Gulf, 25 Oct., 1944.) As the Battle of the Philippine Sea proceeded to a close, the Japanese Mobile Fleet steamed back to its bases, defeated. Admiral Mitscher's task force meanwhile retired to cover the invasion operations proceeding in the Marianas. Indiana fueled east of that chain of islands and then continued her screening duties with TG 58.4 to the south and west of Saipan, supporting the continuing air strikes on islands in the Marianas, the strikes concentrated on Guam by that point.
On 25 July, aircraft of TG 58.4 conducted air strikes on the Palaus and on enemy shipping in the vicinity, continuing their schedule of strikes through 6 August. On that day, Indiana, with Iowa (BB-61), Washington, Alabama, the light cruiser Birmingham (CL-62), and a destroyer screen, was detached from the screen of TG 58.4, forming TG 58.7, under Vice Admiral Lee.INDIANA, steaming with Task Force 58, remained at sea for 64 days during the Marianas operation, conducting air strikes until Saipan, Guam, and Tinian were secured. The Task Group arrived at Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshalls to refuel and replenish on 11 August and remained there for almost the balance of the month. On 30 August, that group departed, headed for, first, the Admiralty Islands, and ultimately, the Palaus.
In August 1944 the battleship began operations as a unit of Task Group 38.3, bombarding the Palau's, and later the Philippines. She screened strikes on enemy shore installations 12-30 September 1944, helping to prepare for the coming invasion of Leyte.
After two years of high speed operation, INDIANA was in dire need of basic repairs. The ship put in at Manus and then steamed to Bremerton, Washington, docking at the U.S. Navy Yard on 23 October. After her overhaul had been completed, INDIANA churned out of Bremerton on 6 December 1944 enroute to Pearl Harbor.
Upon arriva1 at Pearl Harbor on 12 December 1944, the battleship conducted training exercises for nine days, and on 10 January 1945 she stood out of Pearl Harbor enroute to bombard Iwo Jima via Eniwetok and Saipan. At Saipan she was joined by three cruisers and on the 24th January the force bombarded Iwo Jima. The only opposition encountered was two enemy planes, one of which was shot down
Anchoring at Ulithi on 26 January, Indiana rejoined Task Force 58 and on 10 February she sortied with the 5th Fleet for the Iwo Jima operation, the next step on the island road to Japan. While the U.S. Marincs landed on Iwo Jima the fleet stood between the landings and Japan, protecting them from any surprise counter-attack the enemy might plan
On 16 February 1945, the task force approached the Japanese coast under cover of adverse weather conditions and achieved complete tactical surprise. As a result, they shot down 322 enemy planes and destroyed 177 more on the ground, Japanese shipping -- both naval and merchant -- suffered drastically, too, as did hangars and aircraft installations. Moreover, all this damage to the enemy had cost the American Navy only 49 planes.
The task force moved to Iwo Jima on 17 February to provide direct support for the landings slated to take place on that island on the 19th. It revisited Tokyo on the 25th and, the next day, hit the island of Hachino off the coast of Honshu. During these raids, besides causing heavy damage or ground facilities, the American planes sent five small vessels to the bottom and destroyed 158 planes.
On 1 March, reconnaissance planes flew over the island of Okinawa, taking last minute intelligence photographs to be used in planning the assault on that island. The next day, cruisers from TF 58 shelled Okino Daito Shima in training for the forthcoming operation. The force then retired to Ulithi for replenishment. Indiana's task force stood out of Ulithi on 14 March, bound for Japan. The mission of that group was to eliminate airborne resistance from the Japanese homeland to American forces off Okinawa. Enemy fleet units at Kure and Kobe, on southern Honshu, reeled under the impact of the explosive blows delivered by TF 58's airmen. On 18 and 19 March, from a point 100 miles southwest of Kyushu, TF 58 hit enemy airfields on that island. These devastating strikes did much to aid the ground campaign and lower Japanese morale at home. During this period she often repelled enemy suicide plane attacks as the Japanese tried desperately but vainly to stem the mounting tide of defeat; the ship once destroyed three aircraft making a simultaneous attack on her.However, the Japanese drew blood during that action when kamikazes crashed into Franklin (CV-17) on the 19th and seriously damaged that fleet carrier.
That afternoon, the task force retired from Kyushu, screening the blazing and battered flattop. In doing so, the screen downed 48 attackers. At the conclusion of the operation, the force felt that it had achieved its mission of prohibiting any large-scale resistance from the air to the slated landings on Okinawa.
On the 24th, Indiana trained her 16-inch rifles on targets ashore on Okinawa. Together with the other battlewagons of the task force, she pounded Japanese positions and installations in preparation for the landings. Although fierce, Japanese resistance was doomed to fail by dwindling numbers of aircraft and trained pilots to man them. In addition, the Japanese fleet, steadily hammered by air attacks from 5th Fleet aircraft, found itself confronted by a growing, powerful, and determined enemy. On 17 April, the undaunted enemy battleship Yamato, with her 18.1-inch guns, sortied to attack the American invasion fleet off Okinawa. Met head-on by a swarm of carrier planes, Yamato, the light cruiser Yahagi, and four destroyers went to the bottom, the victims of massed air power. Never again would the Japanese fleet present a major challenge to the American fleet in the war in the Pacific.
While TF 58's planes were off dispatching Yamato and her consorts to the bottom of the South China Sea, enemy aircraft struck back at American surface units. Combat air patrols (CAP) knocked down 15 enemy planes, and ships' gunfire accounted for another three, but not before one kamikaze penetrated the CAP and screen to crash on the flight deck of the fleet carrier Hancock (CV-19). On 11 April, the "Divine Wind" renewed its efforts; and only drastic maneuvers and heavy barrages of gunfire saved the task force. None of the fanatical pilots achieved any direct hits, although near-misses, close aboard, managed to cause some minor damage. Combat air patrols bagged 17 planes, and ships' gunfire accounted for an even dozen. The next day, 151 enemy aircraft committed hara-kiri into TF 58, but Indiana, bristling with 5-inch, 40-millimeter and 20- millimeter guns, together with other units of the screens for the vital carriers, kept the enemy at bay or destroyed him before he could reach his targets.
Over the days that ensued, American task force planes hit Japanese facilities and installations in the enemy's homeland. Kamikazes, redoubling their efforts, managed to crash into three carriers on successive days -- Intrepid (CV-11), Bunker Hill (CV- 17), and Enterprise (CV-6).
On 05 June the U.S. fleet off Okinawa was hit by a typhoon that damaged 33 ships, including battleships, carriers, cruisers, and destroyers. The typhoon arrived about midnight, at 0500 hours it was raining horizontally at 138 miles per hour, with a barometer reading of 28.29 inches - 986.0 millibars, and with a record roll of 26 degrees. One destroyer reported rolling badly (30 degrees), the Pittsburgh lost it's bow, the Duluth sprung a bow leak, and the Hornet the forward corners of it's flight deck. The Indiana lost steering control for 35 minutes and one main engine lost power, but she rode out the storm with only minor topside structural damage, one OS2U torn off the catapult and continued operations and sailed to San Pedro Bay, Philippines, 13 June 1945.
Indiana departed Leyte on 1 July, supporting the carriers of Task Group 38.1 which attacked the Tokyo area on the 10th. The battleship and her consorts sailed once more for Japanese home waters for carrier air strikes on the enemy's heartland. Nine days later, carrier planes from TF 38 destroyed 72 enemy aircraft on the ground and smashed industrial sites in the Tokyo area. So little was the threat from the dwindling Japanese air arm that the Americans made no attempt whatever to conceal the location of their armada which was operating off her shores with impunity. On 14 July, as part of a bombardment group, she participated in the shelling of the Kamaishi Steel Works, Kamaishi, Honshu, Japan. This was the first gunfire attack on the Japanese home islands by heavy warships. From 15 through 28 July, Indiana again supported the carriers as they launched strikes against Honshu and Hokkaido.
On the 29 July, she participated in the shore bombardment of Hamamatsu, Honshu. By that point in the war, Allied warships were able to shell the Japanese homeland almost at will. Task Force 38's planes subsequently blasted the Japanese naval base at Yokosuka, and put one of the two remaining Japanese battleships -- the former fleet flagship Nagato out of action. On 24 and 25 July, American carrier planes visited the Inland Sea region, blasting enemy sites on Honshu, Kyushu, and Shikoku. Kure then again came under attack. Six major fleet units were located there and badly damaged, marking the virtual end of Japanese sea power. Over the weeks that ensued, TF 38 continue its raids on Japanese industrial facilities, airfields, and merchant and naval shipping.
On 9 August, the Indiana again shelled Kamaishi. The battleship supported the carriers in strikes against northern Honshu on 10 August, and in the Tokyo area on the 13th and 15th. The latter was the last strike of the war for, later that day, Japan capitulated. On 30 August she assisted in landing U.S. occupation forces, including a landing force of 238 sailors and 76 marines from the complement of the Indiana, at Yokosuka Naval Base in Tokyo Bay, where the Japanese formal surrender took place on 02 September. The veteran battleship, as part of the occupying force, arrived in Tokyo Bay 05 September, three days after the formal surrender occured on board the battleship Missouri (BB-63). Nine days later the Indiana sailed for San Francisco, where she arrived 29 September; the first ship back from Tokyo Bay.
On her arrival in the United States, INDIANA had steamed 234,888 mIles, consuned 36,432,000 gallons of fuel oil, and had used 77 million gallons of water since her commissioning.
For the first post-war Navy Day (27 October 1945) celebration, INDIANA remained at San Francisco, where visitors came aboard in droves to inspect the veteran battleship.
INDIANA moved to the Puget Sound Navy Yard on 31 October where she was subjected to a major overhaul. She was placed "in commission in reserve" in the Bremerton Group of the Pacific Reserve Fleet on 11 September 1946 and on 11 September 1947 her status was changed to "in service in reserve." The last of her Class to be decommissioned.
On 26 July 1954 the Chairman of the Ship Characteristics Board requested a preliminary design of BB-57 class conversions to increase speed. Examination of fast task force operations indicated that the South Dakota class was admirably suited for such major fleet service in every regard but speed. As the main-battery armament was considered greatly in excess of requirements, it was proposed to remove the after turret, thereby providing hull volume for added machinery. It was desired to increase the maximum speed to approximately 31 knots. The Bureau of Ships reported on its investigations of the proposed conversions of the South Dakota class on 14 September 1954. It was calculated that 256,000 shaft horsepower would be necessary for a speed of 31 knots. The internal location of the main side belt armor precluded the removal of the side armor. In order to obtain this massive increase in power, it would have been necessary to install a vastly improved steam propulsion plant or to utilize a plant with gas turbines for boost power, using the existing 130,000 SHP plant for normal operations. Such added power would have forced a redesign of the after hull form, in order to obtain reasonable water flow to the propellers for satisfactory propulsive efficiency, as well as to prevent vibration induced by the skegs. Furthermore, larger propellers would have been required, along with the relocation and modification of shaft bearings, skegs, struts, stern tubes, rudders, and the steering gear. Such major conversions were estimated to cost some $40,000,000 per ship, exclusive of activation expenses, and expenses related to the upgrading or repair of electronics and combat systems. The proposed conversions were abandoned.
Indiana was stricken from the Navy List 01 June 1962, sold for scrap for $418,387 on 06 Sep 1963, and scrapped in 1964.
Indiana's mast is erected at the University of Indiana at Bloomington; her anchor rests at Fort Wayne;
and other relics are on display in various museums and schools throughout the State. Teak planks
from the main deck were used to construct a desk and presented to the then Governor of Indiana and has been used by all subsequent governors.
OPERATIONS AND ENGAGEMENTS
USS Indiana (BB-58) was credited with downing 18 enemy planes, participated in 10 enemy shore bombardments, and earned twelve battle stars on the Asiatic-Pacific Area Service Ribbon for participating in the following operations and engagements:
Capture and Defense of Guadacanal: 10 Aug 1942-8 Feb 1943
Rennell Island: 29-30 Jan 1943
New Georgia: 20 Jun-25 Jul 1943
Gilbert Islands Operation: 13 Nov-8 Dec 1943
Marshall Islands Operation
Western Caroline Islands Operation
Iwo Jima Operation
Okinawa Gunto Operation
Third Fleet Operations Against Japan: 10 Jul-15 Aug 1945
The battleship is also entitled to the Navy Occupation Service Medal for the occupation of Japan from 02-15 September 1945
Last Updated 27 May 2002
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