It Was Bigger Than A Breadbox

USS South Dakota

SteveAllen_150“Is it bigger the a breadbox?”  The question popularized by Steve Allen on the 1950’s TV game show, What’s My Line? Often asked to determine a contestant’s occupation, product or service.  Had Mr. Allen asked that question of the builders of the World War II era Battleship, the USS South Dakota he would have learned that it definitely was bigger...and a whole lot more.

 Bigger than a breadbox?  Its length was 680 feet, with a beam of 108.2 feet.  It had a displacement of 35,000 tons (standard), 44, 419 tons (full load).

USS South Dakota (BB-57) was a battleship in the United States Navy from 1942 until 1947. The lead ship of her class, South Dakota was the third ship of the U.S. Navy to be named in honor of the 40th state. The USS South Dakota fought gallantly in World War II sea battles in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. Most warships are built for an active career of 20 or 30 years.  The USS South Dakota was in commission less than five.  She was awarded 13 Battlestars in that short lifetime and covered herself with more honors and glory than most other ships realize in much longer periods of service.

Captain Gatch extinguishes a fire engulfed destroyer with the South Dakota. During the Battle of Santa Cruz, the Destroyer Smith caught on fire by a downed enemy plane.  The ship was saved by the South Dakota creating a huge wake, which put out the fire. 


Inspecting South Dakota's 16 inch gun prior to scrapping.  Daryl Ferguson standing to the immediate left of gun. Summer, 1962.






Hear the story as told by Daryl Ferguson, a South Dakotan who along with a number of other South Dakota citizens fought to save many artifacts of the South Dakota before it was scrapped and created the Battleship Memorial and Museum in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

SoDakFires_250M8projectile_123Well Armed:  Nine 16 inch guns; 16 5-inch guns; Sixty-eight 40 mm guns; seventy-six 20 mm guns.  The South Dakota could accurately fire a 2,700 pound high explosive projectile 21 miles. 

130 shells (Mark 8 projectiles) were stowed for each gun, which came to a total of 1,170 on board.


Aircraft Equipped: The South Dakota had three Vought OS2U Kingfisher catapult-launched floatplanes.  The Kingfisher’s primary duties where for reconnaissance, bombardment observation and pilot rescue missions. 

Kingfisher OS2U as flown by Lt. Ted Hutchins along with his radioman Herb Goldman.

Hear one of the Kingfisher's rescue exploits as recollected  by its pilot Lt. Samuel “Ted” Hutchins (now 92 years of age).

SargentShriver_161Shriver Serves On USS South DakotaA crew of 2,345, only a handful of South Dakotans served on the state namesake.  However men from all 48 states did serve.  One of them was "Sargent" Shriver, the American Democratic politician and activist, is best known as part of the Kennedy family, the driving force behind the creation of the Peace Corps, and the Democratic Party's replacement candidate for U.S. vice president in 1972 served on the Battleship USS-South Dakota beginning in 1942.

Listen as reflects on his South Dakota experiences.

breadbox_200You've got to admit, that's Bigger Than A Breadbox!