The USS South Dakota (BB-57) was the first in its class of 35,000-ton battleships. Built at Camden, New Jersey and commissioned in March 1942, she transferred to the Pacific in August. She displaced almost 45,000 tons fully loaded. The battleship had four propellers powered by eight boilers that drove four steam turbines. Her maximum rated speed was 27 knots. Her main armament had nine 16-inch guns mounted three 3-gun turrets --- two forward and one. Built to be a antiaircraft gun platform, she carried 20 5-inch rapid firing guns mount in ten 2-gun turrets, twelve 1.1-inch, and twelve .50-caliber AA guns. She carried a crew of 1,793 men.
Not much time passed before she joined the US Fleet involved in the campaign to capture Guadalcanal. Following the new doctrine the American Navy now applied for how to use battleships, the South Dakota’s AA guns showed their power when she shot down Japanese aircraft in the Battle of Santa Cruz Islands on October 26, 1942. Nonetheless, a Japanese bomber hit her on one of her forward 16-inch turrets. Just after that, she collided with the destroyer USS Mahan (DD-364). The battleship had to return to Pearl Harbor for repairs.
She returned to the South Pacific in time to be part of the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. Along with the battleship Washington (BB-56), she engaged the Japanese battleship Kirishima and suffered slight damage sufficient to force her to withdraw. The Washington was more than enough to handle the Kirishima by itself and inflicted a defeat to Imperial Japanese Navy. After that, the Japanese abandoned all attempts to capture the island and began planning to evacuate their troops.
This time she had to return to the Pearl Harbor for repairs. Fully ready to return to combat, she steamed for the Atlantic to serve with the British Home Fleet until August 1943. After the Navy overhauled her in the United States, the ship returned to the Pacific Theater. From October 1944 until the Pacific War’s end in September 1945, she protected carrier task forces that stuck Japanese targets from the South China Sea to the Japanese Home Islands. The South Dakota was part of the invasions of Leyte, Luzon, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. When the Japanese surrendered in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945, she was there.
The South Dakota returned to the United States. The Navy decommissioned her in January 1947. She was placed on the Navy’s inactive list until October 1962 when the Navy sold her for scrap.