The USS South Dakota was built in Camden, New Jersey. It was the lead ship of a class of 35,000 ton battleships. She played a major part in many battles, fighting during World War II. The ship was commissioned in March 1942 and was transferred to the Pacific in August.
Action in World War II
In the Pacific, she quickly got involved in the Guadalcanal Campaign. The ship’s anti-aircraft guns played a great part in the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands in 1942. In this battle, her forward sixteen-inch gun turret was hit by a Japanese bomb. After that, she collided with the USS Mahan, necessitating local repairs because of the damage taken. She fought hard and was damaged again during the November 14th and 15th battleship night action off Guadalcanal. This battle effectively ended Japan’s plans to retake that specific island at the time.
The South Dakota operated in the Atlantic from February into August of 1943, including service with the British Home Fleet, after repairs were done in the United States. After this, she returned to the Pacific and took part in the Gilberts and Marshalls invasions in November of 1943 through February of 1944. The battleship aided in raids on Japanese bases during that time and into the spring of 1944. She next took part in the June 1944 Marianas Campaign. The USS South Dakota used her heavy guns to hold enemy positions on Saipan and Tinian. In the Battle of the Philippine Sea on June 19th, she was damaged again by another Japanese bomb.
Damages were repaired once again, preparing the USS South Dakota for more Pacific combat operations. From October of 1944 to the end of World War II over ten months later, she screened carrier task forces during strikes in the Western Pacific. These strikes 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 of 1945, South Dakota joined in on striking Okinawa. She hit targets in the Japanese Home Islands in July and August, during the final acts of the Pacific War. The South Dakota was present in Tokyo Bay on September 2nd of 1945, during the formal surrender of Japan. South Dakota returned to the U.S. soon after, and was decommissioned in January of 1947.
Asbestos in Navy Ships
Although an essential component of the naval fleet throughout conflicts during the last century, battleships also posed a lasting health risk to soldiers who served on them. Unfortunately, products containing asbestos were common on these ships because of the material’s high resistance to heat and fire. Despite its value as an insulator, asbestos fiber intake can lead to several serious health consequences, includingÂ mesothelioma, a devastating cancer without cure. Current and former military personnel who came into contact with these ships should seek immediate medical attention in order to detect possible health consequences associated with asbestos exposure.