USS Idaho (BB-42)

USS Idaho (BB-42)

USS "Idaho" (BB-42), a Sclass|New Mexico|battleship, was the fourth ship of the United States Navy to be named for the 43rd state. Her keel was laid down by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation of Camden, New Jersey. She was launched on 30 June 1917 sponsored by Miss H.A. Limons, granddaughter of the Governor of Idaho, and commissioned on 24 March 1919 with Captain C.T. Vogelgesang in command.

"Idaho" sailed 13 April for shakedown training out of Guantanamo Bay, and after returning to New York City received President of Brazil Epitácio Pessoa for the voyage to Rio de Janeiro. Departing 6 July with her escort, the battleship arrived Rio on 17 July 1919. From there she set course for the Panama Canal, arriving Monterey, California, in September to join the Pacific Fleet. She joined other dreadnoughts in training exercises and reviews, including a Fleet Review by President of the United States Woodrow Wilson on 13 September 1919. In 1920 the battleship carried Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels and the Secretary of the Interior "(either Franklin K. Lane or John B. Payne)" on an inspection tour of Alaska.

Upon her return from Alaska on 22 July 1920 "Idaho" took part in fleet maneuvers off the California coast and as far south as Chile. She continued this important training until 1925, taking part in numerous ceremonies on the West Coast during the interim. Two of the original fourteen 5"/51 caliber guns were removed in 1922. "Idaho" took part in the fleet review held by President Warren Harding in Seattle shortly before his death in 1923. The battleship sailed 15 April 1925 for Hawaii, participated in war games until 1 July, and then got underway for Samoa, Australia, and New Zealand. On the return voyage "Idaho" embarked gallant Commander John Rodgers and his seaplane crew after their attempt to fly to Hawaii, arriving San Francisco, California, on 24 September 1925.

For the next six years "Idaho" operated out of San Pedro, California, on training and readiness operations off California and in the Caribbean Sea. She sailed from San Pedro on 7 September 1931 for the East Coast, entering Norfolk Navy Yard on 30 September for modernization. The earlier 3-inch anti-aircraft guns were replaced by eight 5"/25 caliber guns. The veteran battleship also received better armor, "blister" antisubmarine protection, better machinery, and tripod masts during this extensive overhaul, and was readied for many more years of useful naval service. After completion 9 October 1934 the ship conducted shakedown in the Caribbean before returning to her home port, San Pedro, on 17 April 1935.

As war clouds gathered in the Pacific, the fleet increased the tempo of its training operations. "Idaho" carried out fleet tactics and gunnery exercises regularly until arriving with the battle fleet at Pearl Harbor on 1 July 1940. The ship sailed for Hampton Roads on 6 June 1941 to perform Atlantic neutrality patrol, a vital part of U.S. policy in the early days of the European fighting. She moved to Iceland in September to protect American advance bases and was on station at Hvalfjörður when the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 catapulted America into the war.

"Idaho" and sister ship USS|Mississippi|BB-41|2 departed Iceland two days after Pearl Harbor to join the Pacific Fleet, and arrived at San Francisco, California, via Norfolk, Virginia, and the Panama Canal, on 31 January 1942. She conducted additional battle exercises in California waters and out of Pearl Harbor until October 1942, when she entered Puget Sound Navy Yard to be regunned. The original secondary battery of 5"/51 caliber guns was removed to make room for anti-aircraft machine guns. Upon completion of this work "Idaho" again took part in battle exercises, and sailed 7 April 1943 for operations in the bleak Aleutian Islands. There she was flagship of the bombardment and patrol force around Attu, where she gave gunfire support to the United States Army landings 11 May 1943. During the months that followed she concentrated on Kiska, culminating in an assault 15 August. The Japanese were found to have evacuated island in late July, thus abandoning their last foothold in the Aleutians.

"Idaho" returned to San Francisco 7 September 1943 to prepare for the invasion of the Gilbert Islands. Moving to Pearl Harbor, she got underway with the assault fleet 10 November and arrived off Makin Atoll on 20 November. She supported the fighting ashore with accurate gunfire support and antiaircraft fire, remaining in the Gilberts until sailing for Pearl Harbor on 5 December 1943.

Next on the Pacific timetable was the invasion of the Marshall Islands, and the veteran battleship arrived off Kwajalein early 31 January to soften up shore positions. Again she hurled tons of shells into Japanese positions until 5 February, when the outcome was one of certain victory. After replenishing at Majuro she bombarded other islands in the group, then moved to Kavieng, New Ireland, for a diversionary bombardment 20 March 1944.

"Idaho" returned to the New Hebrides on 25 March, and after a short stay in Australia arrived Kwajalein with a group of escort carriers on 8 June. From there the ships steamed to the Marianas, where "Idaho" began a preinvasion bombardment of Saipan on 14 June. With this brilliantly executed landing assault underway 15 June, the battleship moved to Guam for bombardment assignments. As the American fleet decimated Japanese carrier air power in the Battle of the Philippine Sea from 19 June to 21 June, "Idaho" protected the precious transport area and reserve convoys. After returning briefly to Eniwetok from 28 June to 9 July the ship began preinvasion bombardment of Guam 12 July, and continued the devastating shelling until the main assault eight days later. As ground troops battled for the island, "Idaho" stood offshore providing vital support until anchoring at Eniwetok 2 August 1944.

The ship continued to Espiritu Santo and entered a floating dry dock on15 August for repairs to her "blisters" After landing rehearsals on
Guadalcanal in early September, "Idaho" moved to Peleliu on 12 September and began bombarding the island, needed as a staging base for the invasion of the Philippines. Despite the furious bombardment, Japanese entrenchments gave assault forces stiff opposition, and the battleship remained off Peleliu until 24 September providing the all-important fire support for advancing marines. She then sailed for Manus and eventually to Bremerton, Washington, where she arrived for needed repairs on 22 October 1944. The 5"/25 caliber guns were replaced by ten 5"/38 caliber guns in single enclosed mounts. This was followed by battle practice off California.

"Idaho's" mighty guns were need for the next giant amphibious assault on the way to Japan. She sailed from San Diego on 20 January 1945 to join a battleship group at Pearl Harbor. After rehearsals she steamed from the Marianas on 14 February for the invasion of Iwo Jima. As marines stormed ashore 19 February "Idaho" was again blasting enemy positions with her big guns, and fired star shells at night to illuminate the battlefield. She remained off Iwo Jima until 7 March, when she underway for Ulithi and the last of the great Pacific assaults -- Okinawa.

"Idaho" sailed on 21 March 1945 as part of Rear Admiral Deyo's Gunfire and Covering Group and flagship of Bombardment Unit 4. She arrived offshore on 25 March and began silencing enemy shore batteries and pounding installations. The landings began 1 April, and as the Japanese made a desperate attempt to drive the vast fleet away with suicide attacks, "Idaho's" gunners shot down numerous planes. In a massed attack 12 April the battleship shot down five kamikazes before suffering damage to her port blisters from a near-miss. After temporary repairs she sailed 20 April and arrived at Guam five days later.

The veteran of so many of the landings of the Pacific quickly completed repairs and returned to Okinawa 22 May to resume fire support. "Idaho" remained until 20 June 1945, then sailed for battle maneuvers in Leyte Gulf until hostilities ceased 15 August 1945.

"Idaho" made her triumphal entry into Tokyo Bay with occupation troops on 27 August, and witnessed the signing of the surrender on board USS|Missouri|BB-63|2 on 2 September. Four days later she began the long voyage to the East Coast of the United States, steaming via the Panama Canal to arrive at Norfolk on 16 October 1945. She decommissioned on 3 July 1946 and was placed in reserve until sold for scrap on 24 November 1947 to Lipsett, Incorporated, of New York City.

"Idaho" received seven battle stars for World War II service.




External links

* [ US Navy Historical Center gallery]
* [ Maritimequest USS "Idaho" BB-42 Photo Gallery]
* [ NavSource Online: Battleship Photo Archive BB-42 USS IDAHO 1919 - 1929]

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