Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The South Dakota Battleship Memorial in Sioux Falls

 Sioux Falls, South Dakota is the home of the Battleship South Dakota Memorial site. This is a great place to learn about the amazing history of this great WWII ship and its crew. Of special note is the large, blue shell seen above. This is the type of shell (weighing well over a ton) fired by the South Dakota'a main guns.

The South Dakota was 660' long with 9 huge 16" guns. This ship could travel at some 30 mph with her 130,000 hp engines. The South Dakota was heavily involved in many of the largest battles in WWII and was claimed to have been sunk by the Japanese at least twice. This lead to the battleship being called Battleship X so as not to give away the fact that the South Dakota had survived the battle intact. 

 There are many great artifacts in the memorial, including this remarkable steering station. Here, Rick imagines what it must have been like to steer 42,000 tons of battleship in formation while under attack from aircraft.

The South Dakota was also involved in one of the last battleship to battleship surface conflict in the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal where the South Dakota demolished several Japanese ships using guns like this one that fires a 16" shell that weighs over 2,600 pounds! Imagine that heading your way!

 Here is a shot of the breech of the massive gun that could shoot huge shells over 23 miles. Not only that, but these guns were so accurate that the South Dakota was able to hit enemy ships miles away with the first shots.

Of course, the gun barrels had to be cleaned as this sailor shows. This would be a very tight fit for most folks today and Rick was very happy he was not asked to clean this out!

 The memorial has a number of great exhibits, including this actual propeller from the South Dakota. This propeller is over 17' in diameter and weighs over 18 tons. It seems there is nothing small on a battleship.

 Inside the memorial building are many more artifacts and pictures covering all aspects of the ship, including this actual bell from the ship.

 Rick also learned that the Battleship South Dakota was not the first ship to carry the state's name. Indeed, this armored cruiser was named South Dakota was commissioned in 1908 and took part in WWI.

 There were many things to look at and learn. For example, the large Japanese battle flag seen above was surrendered to the South Dakota from the Japanese battleship Nagato at the conclusion of WWII. Interestingly, the Nagato was the only Japanese battleship that was still floating at the end of the war.

There is also this remarkable model of the South Dakota. This very large model is beautifully detailed and gives a great view of the entire ship. The Memorial is a great place to visit and should be a must stop if you are anywhere near Sioux Falls, SD.


Chuck and Anneke's RV travels said...

Great tour thanks, did not know it was there.

Ron Howes said...

I was born in Sioux Falls during the war, and in recent years we "just pass by" on our way to the Black Hills. I did not know about the USS South Dakota Memorial, and will be sure to take it in on our next trip to the area.

I was just a toddler when the war ended, but I remember "V-J Day" like it was yesterday, when all the sirens and whistles in Sioux Falls suddenly went off, and everyone got very excited.

If you're interested, I wrote about the event on my blog at

Rick and Orinda said...

Really enjoyed the blog, Ron and appreciate your comments.