USS Indiana (BB-58)

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USS Indiana, early 1944 in the Pacific
USS Indiana, 8 September 1942
United States
Namesake: State of Indiana
Builder: Newport News Shipbuilding
Laid down: 20 November 1939
Launched: 21 November 1941
Commissioned: 30 April 1942
Decommissioned: 11 September 1947
Struck: 1 June 1962
Honors and
9 battle stars
Fate: Sold for scrap 23 October 1963
General characteristics
Class and type: South Dakota-class battleship
  • 37,970 long tons (38,580 t) (standard)
  • 44,519 long tons (45,233 t) (full load)
Length: 680 ft (210 m) o/a
Beam: 108 ft 2 in (32.97 m)
Draft: 29.3 ft (8.9 m)
Installed power:
Propulsion: Four-shaft General Electric steam turbines
Speed: 27.5 knots (50.9 km/h; 31.6 mph)
Range: 15,000 nmi (28,000 km; 17,000 mi) at 15 kn (28 km/h; 17 mph)
  • 1,793 officers and enlisted men (peace)
  • 2,500 officers and enlisted men (war)
Aircraft carried: 3 × "Kingfisher" floatplanes
Aviation facilities: 2 × catapults

USS Indiana (BB-58), a South Dakota-class battleship, was the third ship of the United States Navy named in honor of the 19th state. Her keel was laid down on 20 November 1939 by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company of Newport News, Virginia. She was launched on 21 November 1941 sponsored by Mrs. Lewis C. Robbins, daughter of Indiana governor Henry F. Schricker, and commissioned on 30 April 1942, Captain, later Vice Admiral, Aaron Stanton Merrill in command.


Indiana was 680 feet (210 m) long overall and had a beam of 108 ft 2 in (32.97 m) and a draft of 35 ft 1 in (10.69 m). She displaced 37,970 long tons (38,580 t) as designed and up to 44,519 long tons (45,233 t) at full combat load. The ship was powered by four-shaft General Electric steam turbines and eight oil-fired Babcock & Wilcox boilers rated at 130,000 shaft horsepower (97,000 kW), generating a top speed of 27.5 knots (50.9 km/h; 31.6 mph). The ship had a cruising range of 15,000 nautical miles (28,000 km; 17,000 mi) at a speed of 15 kn (28 km/h; 17 mph). She carried three Vought OS2U Kingfisher floatplanes for aerial reconnaissance. Her peace time crew numbered 1,793 officers and enlisted men but during the war the crew swelled to 2,500 officers and enlisted.[1][2]

The ship was armed with a main battery of nine 16"/45 caliber Mark 6 guns[a] guns in three triple gun turrets on the centerline, two of which were placed in a superfiring pair forward, with the third aft. The secondary battery consisted of twenty 5-inch /38 caliber dual purpose guns mounted in twin turrets clustered amidships, five turrets on either side. As built, the ship was equipped with an anti-aircraft battery of twelve 1.1 in (28 mm) guns and twelve 50-caliber M2 Browning machine guns. The main armored belt was 12.2 in (310 mm) thick, while the main armored deck was up to 6 in (150 mm) thick. The main battery gun turrets had 18 in (457 mm) thick faces. The conning tower had 16 in (406 mm) thick sides.[1]


Service history[edit]

USS Indiana while on trials, 8 September 1942

The new battleship was authorized on 27 March 1934 by the Vinson-Trammell Act, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt approved the name Indiana on 21 September 1938. The keel for Indiana was laid down on 20 November 1939 at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company of Newport News, Virginia. The completed hull was launched on 21 November 1941, with the christening performed by Margaret Robbins, the daughter of the Governor of Indiana, Henry F. Schricker. Indiana was completed by April 1942 and was commissioned into the fleet on the 30th. Then-Captain Aaron S. Merrill was the ship's first commanding officer. During the elaborate commissioning ceremony, which was attended by Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox, the ship flew the flag from the old battleship Indiana that had been used during the Battle of Santiago de Cuba in 1898.[1][2]

Fitting-out work continued at Newport News through 20 May, and the following day Indiana departed on sea trials. Initial trials were conducted in Chesapeake Bay from 26 to 29 May; on the 31st, she departed for Hampton Roads, Virginia. Speed trials followed on 1 June, during which she was escorted by the destroyers Charles F. Hughes, Hilary P. Jones, Ingraham, and Woolsey. Trials, gunnery training, and various exercises continued into September, and on the 29th she departed for Casco Bay in Maine for more gunnery training. The ship was declared fit for combat service on 9 November, and she departed for the Panama Canal that day. By this time, the United States had been at war with Germany and Japan for nearly a year, and was in the midst of the Guadalcanal Campaign in the Pacific; Indiana was ordered to join the forces engaged there.[2]

Pacific Theater operations[edit]

Indiana in the South Pacific in December 1942

On 14 November, Indiana was assigned as the flagship for Task Group 2.6, which included the light cruiser Columbia and the destroyers De Haven and Saufley. The four ships then proceeded to Tonga, arriving on the afternoon of 28 November. After refueling, Indiana transferred to Task Group 66.6 two days later and continued on to Nouméa, arriving on 2 December. There, she took part in exercises with ships from Task Force 64.[2] The ship served as a replacement for her sister South Dakota, which had been badly damaged during the Second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal; while operating off Guadalcanal, Indiana provided gunfire support to American forces ashore.[3] By January 1943, the ship had been joined by the fast battleships North Carolina and Washington; the three battleships were grouped together under Rear Admiral Willis Lee. The ships were too far south to come to aid of the American cruiser force during the Battle of Rennell Island at the end of the month.[4] During the invasion of New Georgia, the battleship force, which now included Indiana, North Carolina, and Massachusetts, was assigned to cover the invasion fleet against possible Japanese attacks.[5]

Indiana supported the carrier task force that raided Marcus Island on 31 August – 1 September.[6] She took part in the invasion of Tarawa on 20–23 November and provided gunfire support to the Marines that stormed the island. During operations in the area, Indiana's anti-aircraft gunners claimed their first Japanese aircraft.[3] On 8 December, Indiana, four other battleships, and twelve destroyers bombarded Japanese positions on Nauru. Between the five battleships, a total of 810 sixteen-inch shells were fired at the island.[7] In late January, Indiana took part in operations to prepare for the invasion of Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands. On 29 January, the ship attacked Maloelap Atoll, along with Washington and the aircraft carriers Enterprise and Yorktown, and the following day the ships began bombarding Kwajalein to soften Japanese defenses. While operating off the islands in the early hours of 1 February, Indiana collided with Washington.[8] The ships were blacked out to prevent Japanese observers from spotting them, and in the darkness, Indiana turned in front of Washington. Indiana was badly damaged, with the starboard propeller shaft destroyed and significant damaged inflicted on the belt armor and torpedo defense system. The accident killed three men and injured another aboard Indiana. The ship proceeded to Majuro for temporary repairs before continuing on to Pearl Harbor, where permanent repairs were effected.[9]

Indiana in dock in Pearl Harbor showing the temporary repairs after the collision with Washington

Indiana joined the noted Task Force 58 (TF 58) for the huge Truk Atoll raids of 29–30 April, and then she bombarded Ponape Island on 1 May. In June, Indiana proceeded to the Mariana Islands with a gigantic American fleet for the invasion of that strategic island chain. She bombarded Saipan Island on 13–14 June, and she shot down several enemy aircraft with her anti-aircraft battery while fighting off air attacks on 15 June. As the Japanese aircraft carrier fleet approached the Marianas to try to repel the Americans, Indiana steamed out to meet them as part of Vice Admiral Lee's battle line. The two large fleets approached each other on 19 June for the biggest carrier air battle of the war, the Battle of the Philippine Sea, and as four large air raids hit the American formations, the F6F Hellcats of the fleet, with minor assistance by the ships in the screens, shot down nearly 400 of the Japanese attackers. With able assistance from submarines, Vice Admiral Marc A. Mitscher's forces sank three Japanese aircraft carriers, including Shōkaku and the brand-new Taihō. The air battle was called the "Great Marianas Turkey Shoot".[10]

Indiana shot down several planes, and endured two near misses by torpedoes. The Battle of the Philippine Sea decided in the American favor, Indiana resumed her screening duties around the carriers, and remained at sea for 64 consecutive days in support of the Marianas invasion.[10]

In August, Indiana began operations as a unit of Task Group 38.3 (TG 38.3), bombarding the Palau Islands, and later the Philippines. She screened strikes on enemy shore installations from 12–30 September, helping to prepare for the coming invasion of Leyte Island in the central Philippine Islands. Indiana then departed the Philippines for the naval shipyard at Bremerton, Washington, arriving on 23 October, for a needed major overhaul and installation of additional anti-aircraft armament. Thus, she missed the major Battle of Leyte Gulf off the Philippines. After her overhaul, Indiana steamed for Pearl Harbor.[10]

Reaching Pearl Harbor on 12 December, Indiana immediately began underway training preparedness. She steamed out on 10 January 1945, and with a fleet of battleships and cruisers, she bombarded Iwo Jima on 24 January. Indiana then joined TF 58 at Ulithi Atoll, and sortied on 10 February for the invasion of Iwo Jima, the next step on the island road to Japan. She supported the carriers during raids on the Tokyo area on 17 February, and again on 25 February, with screening of air strikes on Iwo Jima in the interval. Indiana supported an air strike on Okinawa, and then departed back to her base. She arrived back at Ulithi for replenishment on 5 March.[11]

USS Indiana bombarding Kamaishi, Japan, 14 July 1945

Indiana steamed out of Ulithi on 14 March for the crucial invasion of Okinawa, and until June, she steamed in support of carrier operations against Japan and Okinawa. These naval air raids did as much as they could to aid the ground campaign, and damage the Japanese at home. During this period, she often repelled enemy kamikazes as the Japanese tried desperately but vainly to stem the mounting tide of defeat. In early June, Indiana rode out a terrible typhoon, and then steamed to San Pedro Bay on 13 June.[11]

As a member of TG 38.1, Indiana operated at sea from 1 July to 15 August, supporting air strikes against Japan, and bombarding coastal targets with her 16 in (410 mm) guns. The veteran battleship arrived in Tokyo Bay on 5 September, and nine days later she steamed for San Francisco, where she arrived on 29 September.[11]

Returning to the US soon after the Japanese surrender, Indiana steamed through the Golden Gate at 0745 hrs. 29 September, with 879 Navy and Marine passengers aboard, the first large ship of the Third Fleet to arrive on the West Coast.[12] She was placed in reserve status in September 1946 and formally decommissioned a year later. She saw no further active service and was sold for scrapping on 6 September 1963. Indiana's prow, mainmast and guns are erected at Memorial Stadium of Indiana University; her anchor rests on the grounds surrounding the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Indiana; her bell resides at the Heslar Naval Armory in Indianapolis, Indiana; and other relics are on display in various museums and schools throughout Indiana. Indiana's prow was formerly located in Berkeley, California, in a parking lot across the street from Spenger's Restaurant on Fourth Street but was moved to Memorial Stadium at Indiana University in July 2013. Some of the low-background steel that made up Indiana's hull was recycled to create the low background counting chamber at the in Vivo Radioassay and Research Facility (IVRRF) at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.[13]


Indiana received nine battle stars for her World War II service in the following campaigns:[11]

  • Gilbert Islands Campaign
  • Marshall Islands Campaign
  • Mariana Islands Campaign and the Great Turkey Shoot
  • Battle of Iwo Jima
  • Okinawa Campaign
  • Preparations for Invasion of Japan



  1. ^ /45 refers to the length of the gun in terms of calibers. A /45 gun is 45 times long as it is in bore diameter.


  1. ^ a b c Gardiner & Chesneau, p. 98.
  2. ^ a b c d DANFS Indiana 1939–1942.
  3. ^ a b Garzke & Dulin, p. 78.
  4. ^ Rohwer, p. 224.
  5. ^ Rohwer, p. 258.
  6. ^ Rohwer, p. 269.
  7. ^ Rohwer, p. 292.
  8. ^ Rohwer, pp. 303–304.
  9. ^ Garzke & Dulin, pp. 78, 82.
  10. ^ a b c DANFS Indiana 1944.
  11. ^ a b c d DANFS Indiana 1945–1963.
  12. ^ Associated Press, "Battleship Indiana Reaches Bay City; More Ships Expected", The San Bernardino Daily Sun, San Bernardino, California, Sunday 30 September 1945, Volume 52, page 6.
  13. ^ Lynch, TP (August 2007). "A historically significant shield for in vivo measurements". Health Phys. 93: S119–23. doi:10.1097/01.HP.0000259867.85459.b2. PMID 17630635. 


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