Saturday, July 12, 2014

Repairs to battleship USS Tennessee

On today's date in 1944, the battleship USS Tennessee was received alongside my dad's repair ship, Hector, for repairs for battle damage received on June 15th (D-Day in the Pacific) from enemy shore batteries to her superstructure. Crews from Hector repaired the ship by July 15 so she could return to combat duties at Guam and Tinian.*

Commissioned in 1920, Tennessee was a Pearl Harbor survivor, having sustained 2 bomb hits and fire damage resulting from burning oil from the sunken USS Arizona. Emerging from a complete overhaul in May 1943, the ship engaged in combat operations in the Aleutians where she bombarded the island of Kiska prior to its invasion in August.

From November 1943 through September 1944, Tennessee participated in bombarding Tarawa, Kwajalein, Eniwetok, New Ireland, Saipan (where she was damaged requiring Hector's assistance on this date), Guam, Tinian, Anguar, and Pelieu. In October 1944, Tennessee supported the Battle of Leyte as U.S. invasion forces under Gen. Douglas MacArthur returned to the Philippines. She is credited with helping to sink the Japanese battleship Yamashiro in the Battle of Surigao Strait on the night of October 25.

The battleship next supported the Battle of Iwo Jima in February and March of 1945. In late March, she pounded Okinawa. Hit by a suicide plane with a bomb on April 12, Tennessee remained in action until May 1, when she went to Ulithi for repairs before returning to action at Okinawa in June. Later that year, she operated in the waters off China, and following Japan's surrender, she participated in the occupation effort before returning to the United States in early December 1946. Tennessee was decommissioned in 1947 and languished in the Reserve Fleet until she was sold for scrap in July 1959.

USS Tennessee bombarding Japanese positions on Guam, 19 July 19, 1944.

The USS Tennessee earned the Navy Unit Citation and 10 battle stars for combat service in World War II.

*While Hector was working on the Tennessee, it also completed 29 other repair jobs to other vessels.

Sources: USS Hector AR7- Ship’s Log (WWII); Naval History and Heritage Command; USS Tennessee War Diary, July 1944

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