Saturday, September 8, 2012

Repairs to the South Dakota

Work on the USS South Dakota was one of the more difficult challenges for Vestal's repair force. The battleship had run aground on an uncharted reef. Vestal's divers began on September 6, checking the ship's seams. They discovered a series of splits extending along 150 feet of the ship's bottom. On September 8, 1942, Vestal's repair crew, along with men of the battleship, managed to repair the damage well enough to allow the ship to return stateside for permanent repairs.

Dad worked with Vestal's 6-man diving crew on South Dakota. However, he did no actual diving because he wasn't certified for that kind of work until April.

USS South Dakota
Source: NavSource Online

The USS South Dakota was launched in 1939. She earned 13 Battle Stars in war action during 2 tours in the Pacific Theater and 1 tour with the British Home Fleet. She participated in the last strike against Japan in the war, entering Tokyo Bay in late August 1945, after Japan's capitulation. In 1947, South Dakota was assigned to the Reserve Fleet and placed out of commission. In 1962, she was sold as scrap. Memorabilia and parts of the ship are displayed at the USS South Dakota Battleship Memorial in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Sources: US Fast Battleships 1936-47: The North Carolina and South Dakota, Lawrence Burr; Frank L. Dolan's oral account

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