Battleship X

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USS South Dakota BB-57 was known as "Battleship X" or "Old Nameless" by much of the American public during the war, for her exploits were legend, but the Navy, wanting to hide information from the Japanese, would not let her be identified by name.

First in a class of four battleships and laid down in July of 1939, she was launched in June of 1941 and commissioned in March of the next year. The process of fitting out and training occupied her crew until August, at which point she left the Philadelphia Navy Yard and headed south to the Panama canal, and then west to the war zone.

She joined with the aircraft carrier Enterprise as part of Task Force 16 and took part in the Battle of Santa Cruz southwest of Guadalcanal. During this action, she provided anti-aircraft protection for Enterprise during three waves of Japanese dive bomber and torpedo plane attacks. During the attacks she was credited with downing 26 of the attacking Japanese aircraft but also took a 500 pound bomb to the roof of her number 1 turret. Following this action she collided with the Destroyer Mahan while both were avoiding an enemy submarine contact and retired to Noumea where the Pearl Harbor veteran Vestal repaired her collision and battle damage.

Task Force 16 sortied again in November and on November 14th was part of Task Force 64 operating southwest of Guadalcanal when it was learned that an enemy convoy was due to appear at the passage off of Savo Island early the next morning. This was actually a bombardment group headed to shell US forces at Guadalcanal.

During the engagement South Dakota had taken 42 hits and needed to be withdrawn to the United States for repairs and overhaul, but this battle had effectively broken the Japanese attempt to retake Guadalcanal.


  • Guadalcanal Damage Report for 14-15 November, 1942 - Bureau of Ships
  • Puget Sound Naval Shipyard USS South Dakota Damage Report, June 19, 1944
  • Links:

  • BB-57 USS South Dakota - Navsource

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