USS Indiana BB 58

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This Month in Naval History
USS Indiana BB 58
Indiana II

(BB-58: dp. 36,000; 1. ff80'; b. 108'2"; dr. 29'3"; s. 27 k.; cpl. 2,600; a. 9 16", 20 6", 24 40mm., 16 20mm., cl. Indiana)

Indiana (BB - 58) was launched by Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co., Newport News, Va., 21 November 1941; sponsored by Mrs. Lewis C. Robbins, daughter of Indiana governor Henry F. Schricker; and commissioned 30 April 1942,, Captain A. S. Merrill in command.

Following shakedown in Casco Bay, Maine, the new battleship steamed through the Panama Canal to bolster U.S. fleet units in the Pacific during the critical early months of World War II. She Joined Rear Admiral Lee's carrier screening force 28 November 1942. For the next 11 months, Indiana helped protect carriers Enterprise and Saratoga, then supporting American advances in the Solomons.

Indiana steamed to Pearl Harbor 21 October 1943, and departed 11 November with the support forces designated for the invasion of the Gilbert Islands. The battleship protected the carriers which supported the Marines during the bloody flght for Tarawa. Then late in January 1944 she bombarded Kwajelein for 8 days prior to the Marshall Island landings, 1 February. While maneuvering to refuel destroyers that night, Indiana collided with battleship Washington. Temporary repairs to her starboard side were made at MaJuro, and she arrived Pearl Harbor 13 February for additional work.

Indiana joined famed Task Force 58 for the Truk raid 29-30 April and bombarded Ponape Island 1 May. In June the battlewagon proceeded to the Marianas with a giant American fleet for the invasion of that strategic group. She bombarded Saipan 13-14 June and brought down several enemy aircraft while flghting off concentrated air attacks June 15. As the Japanese fleet closed the Marianas for a decisive naval battle, Indiana steamed out to meet them as part of Rear Admlral Lee's battle line. The great fleets approached each other 19 June for the biggest carrier engagement of the war, and as four large air raids hit the American formations, Indiana aided by other ships in the screens and carrier planes downed hundreds of the attackers. With able assistance from submarines, Mitscher sank two Japanese carriers in addition to inflicting fatal losses on the enemy naval air arm during "The Great Marianas Turkey Shoot."

Indiana shot down several planes, and sustained only two near torpedo misses. The issue decided, the battleship resumed her screening duties around the carriers, and stayed at sea 84 days in daily support of the Marianas invasion.

In August the battleship began operations as a unit of Task Group 38.3, bombarding the Palaus, and later the Philippines. She screened strikes on enemy shore installations 12~0 September 1944, helping to prepare for the coming invasion of Leyte. Indiana departed for Bremerton, Wash., arriving 23 October.

Reaching Pearl Harbor 12 December, the battleship immediately began underway training preparedness. She sailed 10 January 1945 and with a fleet of battleships and cruisers bombarded Iwo Jima 24 January. Indiana then Joined Task Force 58 at Ulithi and sortied 10 February for the invasion of that strategic island, next step on the island road to Japan. She supporteti the carriers during a raid on Tokyo 17 February and again on 25 February, screening strikes on Iwo Jima in the interval. Indiana arrived Ulithi for replenishment 5 March 1945, having just supported a strike on the next target— Okinawa.

Indiana steamed out of Ulit-hi 14 March for the massive Okinawa invasion, and until June 1945 steamed in support of carrier operations against Japan and Okluawa. 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. In early June she rode out a terriffic typhoon, and sailed to Sau Pedro Bay, Philippines, 13 June.

As a member.of Task Group 38.1 Indiana operated from 1 July to 15 August supporting air strikes against Japan and bombarded coastal targets with her big guns. The veteran battleship arrived Tokyo Bay 5 September and 9 days later sailed for San Francisco, where she arrived 29 September 1945. She was placed in reserve in commission at Bremerton 11 September 1946. She decommissioned 11 September 1947, and entered the Pacific Reserve Fleet. She was stricken from the Navy List 1 June 1962 and sold for scrap. 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.

Indiana received nine battle stars for World War II service.


 

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