Allied Warships

USS Alabama (BB 60)

Battleship of the South Dakota class

NavyThe US Navy
TypeBattleship
ClassSouth Dakota 
PennantBB 60 
Built byNorfolk Navy Yard (Portsmouth, Virginia, U.S.A.) 
Ordered1 Apr 1939 
Laid down1 Feb 1940 
Launched16 Feb 1942 
Commissioned16 Aug 1942 
End service9 Jan 1947 
History

USS Alabama began her combat service augmenting the British Fleet protecting convoys on the "Murmansk Run" from England through the North Sea to Russia against German warships and aircraft. The ship transferred to the Pacific Fleet in August 1943, and earned 9 battle stars providing gunfire support for amphibious assaults on Japanese-held islands and protecting carrier task forces from air and surface attack. Alabama was credited with shooting down 22 Japanese planes. Her radar was the first to detect enemy bombers in the Battle of the Philippine Sea, at the unprecedented range of 190 miles. This warning enabled U.S. fighters and anti-aircraft gunners to destroy over 400 Japanese planes.

Decommissioned on 9 January 1947 and stricken on 1 June 1962. Alabama was "mothballed" in Bremerton, Washington until 11 June 1964, when she was transferred to the State of Alabama and towed 5,600 miles to become a memorial in Mobile.

 

Commands listed for USS Alabama (BB 60)

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CommanderFromTo
1Capt. George Barry Wilson, USN16 Aug 194217 Mar 1943
2Cdr. Neil Kittrell Dietrich, USN17 Mar 194320 Mar 1943
3Capt. Fred Durrel Kirtland, USN20 Mar 194312 Aug 1944
4T/R.Adm. Vincent Raphael Murphy, Jr., USN12 Aug 194418 Jan 1945
5T/Capt. William Bernard Goggins, USN18 Jan 194526 Nov 1945
6T/Capt. Edward Harris Pierce, USN26 Nov 194512 Aug 1946

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Notable events involving Alabama include:


7 Jun 1943

Operation FH.

This operations had three objectives;
a) Carrying relief personnel and stores to the Norwegian Garrison in Spitsbergen.
b) Bringing back two corvettes from North Russia.
c) Carrying mail and stores to HM ships and establishments in North Russia.

The ships taking part in the operation were covered by a large battleforce which took station about 200 miles south-west of Bear Island.

The detailed movements taking part in the operation were as follows.

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' Force R ' was deployed for the relief of the garrison at Spitsbergen (Operation Gearbox III).

It was made up of the heavy cruiser HMS Cumberland (Capt. A.H. Maxwell-Hyslop, AM, RN), light cruiser HMS Bermuda (Capt. T.H. Back, RN) and the destroyers HMCS Athabascan (Cdr. G.R. Miles, DSO, OBE, RCN) and HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. E. Mack, DSO, DSC, RN).

They departed Akureyri, Iceland on 7 June for Spitsbergen where they arrived on 10 June. The cruisers commenced unloading while the destroyers conducted an A/S patrol off the entrance of the fjord. Also HMCS Athabascan fuelled from HMS Cumberland and HMS Eclipse from HMS Bermuda.

On 11 June, ' Force R ' departed Spitsbergen for Scapa Flow where they arrived on 14 June.

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On 8 June, the destroyers HMS Mahratta (Lt.Cdr. E.A.F. Drought, DSC, RN), HMS Musketeer (Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN) and HMS Onslaught (Cdr. W.H. Selby, DSC, RN) departed Seidisfjord. HMS Mahratta and HMS Musketeer were to proceed to the Kola Inlet. HMS Onslaught was to make rendezvous with the corvettes HMS Bluebell (Lt. G.H. Walker, RNVR) and HMS Camellia (T/Lt. R.F.J. Maberley, RNVR) which departed the Kola Inlet for the U.K. on 9 June.

On 12 June, HMS Mahratta and HMS Musketeer arrived in the Kola Inlet where they unloaded, fuelled and departed to return to Seidisfjord later the same day.

On 13 June, HMS Onslaught returned to Seidisfjord having failed to meet the corvettes which passed to the south of Bear Island.

On 14 June, HMS Bluebell arrived at Aultbea.

On 15 June, HMS Camellia arrived at Liverpool and HMS Mahratta and HMS Musketeer arrived at Seidisfjord.

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On 9 June, the battlefleet, made up of the battleships HMS Duke of York (Capt. G.E. Creasy, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Admiral B.A. Fraser, KCB, KBE, RN), USS South Dakota (Capt. L.D. McCormick, USN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral O.M. Hustvedt, USN), USS Alabama (Capt. F.D. Kirtland, USN), aircraft carrier HMS Furious (Capt. G.T. Philip, DSC, RN), heavy cruiser HMS Berwick (Capt. H.J. Egerton, RN), AA cruiser HMS Scylla (Capt. I.A.P. Macintyre, CBE, DSO, RN), destroyers HMS Milne (Capt. I.M.R. Campbell, DSO, RN), HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Obedient (Lt.Cdr. H. Unwin, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Opportune (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Orwell (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, DSO, RN), USS Ellyson (T/Cdr. E.W. Longton, USN), USS Rodman (T/Cdr. J.F. Foley, USN), USS Emmons (T/Cdr. E.B. Billingsley, USN), USS Macomb (T/Cdr. J.C. South, USN) and USS Fitch (T/Cdr. K.C. Walpole, USN) departed Akureyi to proceed to their cover position about 200 miles south-west of Bear Island where they arrived on the 11th.

On the 12th, USS South Dakota, USS Alabama, HMS Berwick, USS Ellyson, USS Rodman, USS Emmons, USS Macomb and USSFitch were detached to proceed to Hvalfjord where they arrived on the 14th. The remaining ships set course for Scapa Flow.

On the 13th, HMS Duke of York, HMS Furious, Scylla, HMS Milne, HMS Obdurate, HMS Obedient, HMS Opportune and HMS Orwell arrived at Scapa Flow. (1)

24 Jun 1943
The battleships HMS Anson (Commodore H.R.G. Kinahan, CBE, RN), USS South Dakota (Capt. L.D. McCormick, USN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral O.M. Hustvedt, USN), USS Alabama (Capt. F.D. Kirtland, USN) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Opportune (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Obedient (Lt.Cdr. H. Unwin, DSC and Bar, RN), USS Ellyson (T/Cdr. E.W. Longton, USN), USS Rodman (T/Cdr. J.F. Foley, USN), USS Emmons (T/Cdr. E.B. Billingsley, USN), USS Macomb (T/Cdr. J.C. South, USN) and USS Fitch (T/Cdr. K.C. Walpole, USN). (2)

10 Jul 1943

Exercise X.C.K.

On 10 July 1943, 'Blue Force', made up of the battleships HMS Anson (Rear-Admiral H.R.G. Kinahan, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.R. Moore, KCB, DSO, CVO, RN), USS Alabama (Capt. F.D. Kirtland, USN), heavy cruiser HMS Kent (Capt. G.A.B. Hawkins, DSC, MVO, RN) and the destroyers USS Ellyson (T/Cdr. E.W. Longton, USN), USS Rodman (T/Cdr. J.F. Foley, USN), USS Emmons (T/Cdr. E.B. Billingsley, USN), USS Macomb (T/Cdr. J.C. South, USN) and USS Fitch (T/Cdr. K.C. Walpole, USN) departed Scapa Flow for exercises X.C.K. and then to Hvalfjord on completion of the exercise.

On 11 July 1943, 'Red Force', made up of the heavy cruisers HMS Berwick (Capt. H.J. Egerton, RN), HMS Norfolk (Capt. D.K. Bain, RN) and the destroyer HMS Scorpion (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Clouston, RN) departed Hvalfjord for the exercise.

'Blue Force' was to represent a German squadron that was to break out into the Atlantic via the Denmark Strait.

This was to be prevented by 'Red Force' which had not been informed before the exercise so that they had to sail at short notice with liberymen ashore.

On the 12th it was however decided that the exercise was cancelled with all ship then proceeding to Hvalfjord except for HMS Berwick which proceeded to Scapa Flow. (3)

20 Jul 1943

Exercise X.C.M.

Exercises were carried out off Iceland. HMS London (Capt. R.V. Symonds-Tayler, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear Admiral L.H.K. Hamilton, CB, DSO and Bar, RN), coming from Scapa Flow, portrayed the German battleship Tirpitz trying to break out into the Atlantic.

Weather conditions were good and the icefield was well to the south leaving only a narrow gap to pass through and the ' Tirpitz ' (HMS London was soon intercepted by the cruisers on the Denmark Strait patrol (HMS Kent (Capt. G.A.B. Hawkins, DSC, MVO, RN) and HMS Norfolk (Capt. D.K. Bain, RN)) which led the Battlefleet, made up of the battleships HMS Anson (Rear-Admiral H.R.G. Kinahan, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.R. Moore, KCB, DSO, CVO, RN) and USS Alabama (Capt. F.D. Kirtland, USN) escorted by the destroyers USS Ellyson (T/Cdr. E.W. Longton, USN), USS Rodman (T/Cdr. J.F. Foley, USN), USS Emmons (T/Cdr. E.B. Billingsley, USN), USS Macomb (T/Cdr. J.C. South, USN) and USS Fitch (T/Cdr. K.C. Walpole, USN) on to the 'German' vessel. These ships had departed Hvalfjord on 19 July 1943 except for HMS Norfolk which had departed Akureyri on 18 July to first carry out a reconnaissance of the ice edge.

After the exercise was completed all ships proceeded to Hvalfjord arriving on the 20th. (3)

25 Jul 1943

Operation Governor.

The object of this operation was again to pin down enemy forces in Norway and try to get the large German warships to intervene.

Five Force took part in the operation;
' Force A ', which was made up of the battleships HMS Anson (Rear-Admiral H.R.G. Kinahan, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.R. Moore, KCB, DSO, CVO, RN) and USS Alabama (Capt. F.D. Kirtland, USN), aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious (Capt. R.L.B. Cunliffe, RN) and the destroyers HMS Milne (Capt. I.M.R. Campbell, DSO, RN), HMS Mahratta (Lt.Cdr. E.A.F. Drought, DSC, RN), HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN) and HMS Musketeer (Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN), USS Rodman (T/Cdr. J.F. Foley, USN), USS Emmons (T/Cdr. E.B. Billingsley, USN), USS Macomb (T/Cdr. J.C. South, USN) and USS Fitch (T/Cdr. K.C. Walpole, USN).

' Force B ' which was made up of the battleships HMS Duke of York (Capt. G.E. Creasy, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Admiral B.A. Fraser, KCB, KBE, RN), USS South Dakota (Capt. L.D. McCormick, USN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral O.M. Hustvedt, USN), aircraft carrier HMS Unicorn (Capt. Q.D. Graham, CBE, DSO, RN), light cruiser HMS Bermuda (Capt. T.H. Back, RN) and the destroyers HMS Onslow (Capt. J.A. McCoy, DSO, RN), HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Obedient (Lt.Cdr. H. Unwin, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Grenville (Lt.Cdr. R.P. Hill, DSO, RN), HMS Ulster (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Donald, DSC, RN), HMS Saumarez (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC, RN), HMS Scorpion (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Clouston, RN), HMS Matchless (Lt.Cdr. J. Mowlam, DSO, RN) and HMS Impulsive (Lt. P. Bekenn, RN).

' Force C ' representing a convoy, was made up of the destroyers HMS Savage (Cdr. R.C. Gordon, DSO, RN, Senior Officer ' Force C '), HMS Ripley (Lt. L.G. Toone, RN), trawlers HMS Cedar (T/Skr. B. Godfrey, RNR), HMS Hawthorn (T/Lt. G.W. Fox, RNVR), HMS Larch (T/Skr. J.G. Mackay, RNR), HMS Lilac (T/Skr. J.W. Brown, RNR), HMS Oak (A/Skr.Lt. P. Buchan, DSC, RNR), HMS Skye (T/Lt. W.G. Burt, RNR), HMS Switha (T/Lt. L.H. Green, RNR), HMS Willow (T/Lt. J.E.W. Graves, RNVR), Motor Launches HMML 252 (T/Lt. T.R. Neale, RNVR), HMML 286 (T/Lt. J.R.T. Ward, RNVR), HMML 442 (T/Lt. R.W. Dunn, RANVR), HMML 445 (T/Lt. B.W. Kelly, RNVR), HMML 473 (T/Lt. J.C. Sargeant, RNVR), and the landing craft HMLCI(L) 167 (?).

' Force D ' was made up of the light cruiser HMS Belfast (Capt. F.R. Parham, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral R.L. Burnett, CB, DSO, OBE, RN) and the destroyers HMS Oribi (Lt.Cdr. J.C.A. Ingram, DSC, RN) and HMS Orwell (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, DSO, RN).

' Force E ' which was made up of the heavy cruisers HMS London (Capt. R.V. Symonds-Tayler, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear Admiral L.H.K. Hamilton, CB, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Kent (Capt. G.A.B. Hawkins, DSC, MVO, RN) and HMS Norfolk (Capt. D.K. Bain, RN).

On 25 July, ' Force C ' departed from Scapa Flow for Sullom Voe where it arrived the following day.

On 26 July ' Force A ' departed from Hvalfiord to pass through position ' N ' (66°30'N, 08°00' W) and then through position ' P ' (66°00'N, 01°30'E).

On 27 July ' Force E ' departed from Hvalfiord for position ' M ' (67°20'N, 02°00'W).

' Force B ' departed from Scapa Flow to pass through position ' W ' (61°40'N, 04°40'W) and then through position ' T ' (61°30'N, 01°30'E).

' Force C ' departed from Sullom Voe to pass through position ' U ' (61°45N, 00°50W) and then through postition ' S ' (61°50'N, 01°00'E).

' Force D ' (minus both destroyers) departed from Scapa Flow to proceed to position ' V ' (62°15'N, 05°20'W) where they were to rendezvous on the 28th with the destroyers coming from Skaalefiord, Faeroer Island and then to position ' R ' (62°00'N, 00°30'E).

On 28 July ' Force D ' was sighted and reported by enemy aircraft. The other forces were apparently not sighted by the Germans.

Beaufighters shot down two BV 138's in the vicinity of ' Force D ' and damaged two others.

Martlets from HMS Illustious shot down two BV 138's in the vicinity of Forces ' A ' and ' D '.

' Force D ' joined ' Force A ' in position ' Q ' (63°10'N, 01°30'E). The two destroyers from ' Force D ' were then detached to return to Skaalefiord where they arrived on the 29th.

All forces commenced to withdraw.

' Force C ' arrived at Sullom Voe, sailing PM for Scapa Flow.

' Force B ' arrived at Scapa Flow.

Forces ' A ' and ' D ' (less the two destroyers) arrived at Scapa Flow.

On 30 July ' Force C ' arrived at Scapa Flow and ' Force E ' arrived at Hvalfiord. (3)

12 Feb 1944
Task Force 58 departed Majuro Atoll for operation HAILSTONE, a raid against the Japanese base at Truk Atoll.

Task Force 58 was made up of the following ships;

Task Group 58.1
Aircraft carriers USS Enterprise (Capt. M.B. Gardner, USN), USS Yorktown (Capt. R.E. Jennings, USN), light carrier USS Belleau Wood (Capt. A.M. Pride, USN), light cruisers Santa Fé (Capt. J. Wright, USN), Mobile (Capt. C.J. Wheeler, USN), Biloxi (Capt. D.M. McGurl, USN), USS Oakland (Capt. W.K. Phillips, USN) and the destroyers USS Clarence K. Bronson (Lt.Cdr. J.C. McGoughran, USN), USS Cotten (Cdr. F.T. Sloat, USN), USS Dortch (Cdr. R.C. Young, USN), USS Gatling (Cdr. A.F. Richardson, USN), USS Healy (Cdr. J.C. Atkeson, USN), USS Cogswell (Cdr. H.T. Deutermann, USN), USS Caperton (Cdr. W.J. Miller, USN), USS Ingersoll (Cdr. A.C. Veasey, USN), USS Knapp (Cdr. F. Virden, USN).

Task Group 58.2
Aircraft carriers USS Essex (Capt. R.A. Ofstie, USN), USS Intrepid (Capt. T.L. Sprague, USN), light carrier USS Cabot (Capt. M.F. Schoeffel, USN), heavy cruisers USS Wichita (Capt J.J. Mahoney, USN), USS Baltimore (Capt. W.C. Calhoun, USN), light cruisers USS San Francisco (Capt. H.E. Overesch, USN), USS San Diego (Capt. L.J. Hudson, USN), destroyers USS Owen (Cdr. R.W. Wood, USN), USS Miller (Cdr. T.H. Kobey, USN), USS The Sullivans (Cdr. K.M. Gentry, USN), USS Stephen Potter (Cdr. C.H. Crichton, USN), USS Hickox (Cdr. W.M. Sweetser, USN), USS Hunt (Cdr. H.A. Knoertzer, USN), USS Lewis Hancock (Cdr. C.H. Lyman, 3rd, USN), USS Stembel (Cdr. W.L. Tagg, USN) and USS Stack (Lt.Cdr. R.E. Wheeler, USN).

Task Group 58.3
Aircraft carrier USS Bunker Hill (Capt. T.P. Jeter, USN), light carriers USS Monterey (Capt. L.T. Hundt, USN), USS Cowpens (Capt. R.P. McConnell, USN), battleships USS North Carolina (Capt. F.P. Thomas, USN), USS Massachusetts (Capt. T.D. Ruddock, Jr., USN), USS South Dakota (Capt. A.E. Smith, USN), USS Alabama (Capt. F.D. Kirtland, USN), USS Iowa (Capt. J.L. McCrea, USN), USS New Jersey (Capt. C.F. Holden, USN), heavy cruisers USS Minneapolis (Capt. R.W. Bates, USN), USS New Orleans (Capt. S.R. Shumaker, USN), destroyers USS Izard (Cdr. E.K. van Swearingen, USN), USS Charrette (Cdr. E.S. Karpe, USN), USS Conner (Cdr. W.E. Kaitner, USN), USS Bell (Cdr. L.C. Petross, USN), USS Burns (Cdr. D.T. Eller, USN), USS Bradford (Cdr. R.L. Morris, USN), USS Brown (Cdr. T.H. Copeman, USN), USS Cowell (Cdr. C.W. Parker, USN), USS Wilson (Lt.Cdr. C.K. Duncan, USN), USS Sterett (Lt.Cdr. F.J.L. Blouin, USN) and USS Lang (Cdr. H. Payson, Jr., USN).

Media links


US fast battleships 1936-47

Lawrence Burr


amazon.co.uk
(£ 9.99)


Battle of Surigao Strait

Anthony P. Tully


US battleships 1941-1963

Wayne Scarpaci


amazon.co.uk
(£ 23.07)

Sources

  1. ADM 199/632
  2. ADM 53/116901 + Logbooks of USN ships involved
  3. ADM 199/766

ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.


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