USS Mississippi photos


Commemorative wartime book, in PDF   Really big file, but it's worth the wait.

Framed photo

Kamikaze, 9 January 1945

Kamikaze, 6 May 1945

watching USS Arizona fire her guns 

Bombarding Luzon

Camouflage paint

Getting new 14" gun barrels   Seattle, WA late 1944

Phillipines, 9 January 1945


From the commemorative book, here's the "M" division of the Engineering Department of the USS Mississippi.  Louis Van Slyke is wearing a khaki Chief's cap, in the row next to the back, to the immediate right (your right, not theirs) of the tall man with the dark officer's cap with the white ring around it.



The Battle of Surigao Strait (25 October 1944)

The Battle of Surigao Strait.

Nishimura's "Southern Force" consisted of the battleships Yamashiro and Fusō, the heavy cruiser Mogami, and four destroyers.[4] This force left Brunei after Kurita at 1500 hours on 22 October, turning eastward into the Sulu Sea and then northeasterly past the southern tip of Negros Island into the Mindanao Sea. Nishimura then proceeded northeastward with Mindanao Island to starboard and into the south entrance to Surigao Strait, intending to exit the north entrance of the Strait into Leyte Gulf where he would add his firepower to that of Kurita's force.

The Second Striking Force, commanded by VADM Kiyohide Shima, consisted of heavy cruisers Nachi (Flag), and Ashigara, light cruiser Abukuma, and destroyers Akebono, Ushio, Kasumi, and Shiranuhi.

The Southern Force was attacked by US Navy bombers on 24 October but sustained only minor damage.

Because of the strict radio silence imposed on the Center and Southern Forces, Nishimura was unable to synchronize his movements with Shima and Kurita. When he entered the narrow Surigao Strait at 02:00, Shima was 25 nmi (46 km; 29 mi) behind him, and Kurita was still in the Sibuyan Sea, several hours from the beaches at Leyte.

As the Southern Force approached Surigao Strait, it ran into a deadly trap set by the 7th Fleet Support Force. Rear Admiral Jesse Oldendorf had a substantial force. There were six battleships: West Virginia, Maryland, Mississippi, Tennessee, California, and Pennsylvania; all but Mississippi had been sunk or damaged in the attack on Pearl Harbor and since repaired. There were the 8 in (203 mm) and 6 in (152 mm) guns of the four heavy cruisers (USS Louisville (Flagship), Portland, Minneapolis and HMAS Shropshire) and four light cruisers (Denver, Columbia, Phoenix and Boise). There were also the smaller guns and torpedoes of 28 destroyers and 39 motor torpedo boats (Patrol/Torpedo (PT) boats). To pass through the narrows and reach the invasion shipping, Nishimura would have to run the gauntlet of torpedoes from the PT boats followed by the large force of destroyers, and then advance under the concentrated fire of the six battleships and their eight flanking cruisers disposed across the far mouth of the Strait.[4]

At 22:36, one of the PT boats PT-131 first made contact with the approaching Japanese ships. Over more than three-and-a-half hours, the PT boats made repeated attacks on Nishimura's force. They made no torpedo hits, but sent contact reports which were of use to Oldendorf and his force.[4]

As Nishimura's ships entered Surigao Strait they were subjected to devastating torpedo attacks from the American destroyers disposed on both sides of their line of advance. At about 03:00, both Japanese battleships were hit by torpedoes. Yamashiro was able to steam on, but Fusō exploded and broke in two. Two of Nishimura's four destroyers were sunk; another, Asagumo, was hit but able to retire, and later sank.[4]

The classical account summarized above has been questioned recently because additional evidence has come to light. In the Tully book (2009), Fuso survivor Hideo Ogawa, interrogated in 1945, also wrote an article in 1984 on the battleship's last voyage. He says that "shortly after 0400 the ship capsized slowly to starboard and Ogawa and others were washed away."[9] Fuso was hit on the starboard side by two or possibly three torpedoes. One of these started an oil fire. The fuel used by IJN ships in this period was poorly refined and had a tendency to burst into flame; burning patches of fuel were most likely the source of the myth of Fuso blowing up. It is extremely unlikely that a vessel as strongly built as a battleship could be blown in half and the halves remain upright and afloat, so the classic version of Fuso's fate is also extremely improbable. Accordingly, it is likely that the Morison account is incorrect in this detail.

At 03:16, West Virginia's radar picked up the surviving ships of Nishimura's force at a range of 42,000 yd (38,000 m) and had achieved a firing solution at 30,000 yd (27,000 m). West Virginia tracked them as they approached in the pitch black night. At 03:53, she fired the eight 16 in (406 mm) guns of her main battery at a range of 22,800 yd (20,800 m), striking Yamashiro with her first salvo. She went on to fire a total of 93 shells. At 03:55, California and Tennessee joined in, firing a total of 63 and 69 14 in (356 mm) shells, respectively. Radar fire control allowed these American battleships to hit targets from a distance at which the Japanese battleships, with their inferior fire control systems, could not return fire.[4][10]

The other three US battleships, equipped with less advanced gunnery radar, had difficulty arriving at a firing solution. Maryland eventually succeeded in visually ranging on the splashes of the other battleships' shells, and then fired a total of 48 16 in (406 mm) projectiles. Pennsylvania was unable to find a target and her guns remained silent.[4]

Mississippi only obtained a solution at the end of the battle-line action, and then fired just one (full) salvo of twelve 14 in (356 mm) shells. This was the last salvo ever to be fired by a battleship against another heavy ship, ending an era in naval history.[4]

Yamashiro and Mogami were crippled by a combination of 16 in (406 mm) and 14 in (356 mm) armor-piercing shells, as well as the fire of Oldendorf's flanking cruisers. Shigure turned and fled but lost steering and stopped dead. Yamashiro sank at about 04:20, with Nishimura on board. Mogami and Shigure retreated southwards down the Strait.

The rear of the Southern Force, the "Second Striking Force" commanded by Vice Admiral Shima, had departed from Mako and approached Surigao Strait about 40 miles astern of Nishimura. It too came under attack from the PT boats, and one of these hit the light cruiser Abukuma with a torpedo which crippled her and caused her to fall out of formation. Shima's two heavy cruisers (Nachi and Ashigara) and eight destroyers [4] next encountered remnants of Nishimura's force. Seeing what he thought were the wrecks of both Nishimura's battleships (actually the two halves of Fusō), Shima ordered a retreat. His flagship, Nachi, collided with Mogami, flooding Mogami's steering-room and causing her to fall behind in the retreat; she was sunk by aircraft the next morning. The bow half of Fusō was sunk from gunfire by Louisville, and the stern half sank off Kanihaan Island. Of Nishimura's seven ships, only Shigure survived. Shima's ships did survive the Battle of Surigao Strait but they would be sunk in further engagements around Leyte.[4][10]

What Louisville's action report actually says is, "0529 firing 2 salvos -- 18 rounds -- at a large fire bearing 160 True, range 18,900 yards. Fire was then shifted to a second target bearing 180 T at the same range." "The first target is what has been termed the 'Fuso fire,' while the second was Mogami."[11] Morison and a number of others have presumed the fire surrounded part of Fuso still afloat. There is no evidence to support that claim.

The Battle of Surigao Strait was the last battleship-versus-battleship action in history. It was also the last battle in which one force (the Americans, in this case) was able to "cross the T" of its opponent. However, by the time the battleship action was joined the Japanese line was very ragged and consisted of only one battleship (Yamashiro), one heavy cruiser and one destroyer, so that the "crossing of the T" was notional and had little effect on the outcome of the battle.[4][10]