Friday, March 09, 2007

Fullbore Friday

USS Smith (DD-378), the little girl who could take a hit like a battleship - and give like one. A Mahan Class destroyer of the '30s, she only displaced 1,480. Just look at her, she is just about as cute as a button. But look at her war record (she received the PUC).
Smith went to the south Pacific in October 1942 to join in the fight to hold Guadalcanal. Later in that month, while screening USS Enterprise (CV-6) during the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, she was hit by a Japanese torpedo bomber that deliberately crashed into her forward superstructure. Despite extensive damage and the loss of nearly sixty crewmen, the destroyer put out her fires and continued to defend her task force.

Following repairs, Smith operated on antisubmarine and other service in the south Pacific area from February until May 1943. She was assigned to the Seventh Fleet in June to take part in the series of offensive operations then in preparation along the northern coast of New Guinea. In August and September, she used her guns to bombard Japanese positons at Finschhafen, Huon Gulf and Lae. On 3 October 1943, Smith was present when USS Henley (DD-391) was sunk by a Japanese submarine. She supported landings at Arawe and Cape Gloucester, New Britain, in late 1943 and early 1944 and in the Admiralty Islands in February 1944.

In July-October 1944, after a west coast overhaul, Smith performed training, patrol and escort work in the central Pacific. She rejoined the Seventh Fleet in late October and participated in the Ormoc Bay landing, on Leyte, in December 1944. During that operation, she escaped damage during several attacks by Japanese suicide planes. In January 1945, Smith took part in the Lingayen Gulf invasion. From then until mid-August, she was active in the Philippines and Borneo, escorting convoys, and providing gunfire support for landings at Palawan, Cebu, Tarakan Island and Balikpapan. She was hit by Japanese artillery on 1 July 1945, while shelling Balikpapan, but was only slightly damaged and used her own guns to silence the enemy battery.
Do that with "optimal manning" and "hybrid Sailors." 60 out of 204 is 25% of your manning.

Everything that she was hit with, you can be hit with today. Shore based artillery and small suicide aircraft. Sound familiar? Run those through your head next DC drill. And Byron; yardwork? This is yardwork, Shippy!

More photos here.

"..Hit by Japanese artillery ... and used her own guns to silence the enemy battery."


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