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"The Craziest Battleship Battles in Naval History" Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP18 May 2017 12:22 p.m. PST

"The following evening, the Japanese tried again. The Americans, virtually tapped out after months of grueling combat, went to their aces in the hole; USS Washington and USS South Dakota, a pair of fast battleships normally tasked with escorting carriers. Four destroyers screened the two battleships. The IJN force included the battleship Kirishima (sister of Hiei, and survivor of the first battle), four cruisers, and nine destroyers.

The early stages of the night action saw the IJN warships sweep aside the U.S. Navy destroyer screen. South Dakota and Washington became separated, and the former came under heavy fire from the entire Japanese task force, which caused high casualties and a complete loss of communications. When the Japanese opened up on South Dakota, however, they revealed their position to USS Washington, which took the opportunity to hammer HIJMS Kirishima with her 16" and 5" guns. Kirishima suffered mortal damage, fell out of the battle line, and eventually sank (although most of her crew was rescued). South Dakota and Washington escaped, the latter with virtually no damage.

The age of the steel line-of-battleship really began in the 1880s, with the construction of a series of warships that could carry and independently aim heavy guns external to the hull. In 1905, HMS Dreadnought brought together an array of innovations in shipbuilding, propulsion, and gunnery to create a new kind of warship, one that could dominate all existing battleships.

Although eventually supplanted by the submarine and the aircraft carrier, the battleship took pride of place in the navies of the first half of the twentieth century. The mythology of of the battleship age often understates how active many of the ships were; both World War I and World War II saw numerous battleship engagements. These are the five most important battles of the dreadnought age…"
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Wackmole9 Supporting Member of TMP18 May 2017 12:55 p.m. PST

one of the best navel quote by Admiral Willis A. Lee to uS Pt boats off Guadalcanal.

"Stand aside, this is Ching Lee, I'm coming through."

SBminisguy18 May 2017 1:41 p.m. PST

Interesting article. The book "The Commodore" is fictional account of that battle, the main character being a DD captain. Good book:


Personal logo Virtualscratchbuilder Supporting Member of TMP Fezian18 May 2017 5:57 p.m. PST

This is a good read that suggests Washington pounded Kirishima a lot harder than most records show.

PDF link

Mark 1 Supporting Member of TMP19 May 2017 9:48 a.m. PST

one of the best navel quote by Admiral Willis A. Lee to uS Pt boats off Guadalcanal.

"Stand aside, this is Ching Lee, I'm coming through."

I have seen this quote in a couple of forms. It is, among naval types, almost as popular as the Army's "Nuts". But it is perhaps harder to get to the actual verbatim quote.

I believe his actual words were:

This is Ching Chong China Lee! Chinese, catchee? Refer your boss about Ching Lee. Call off your boys!

His reason was that his radio crew had picked up in-the-clear chatter between the PT boats to Guadalcanal, saying:

There go two big ones, but I don't know who they are.

He had tried to call directly to the PT boats to identify the two ships at his BB detachment (Washington and South Dakota), but the PT boats responded to each other indicating that his message was a Japanese radio operator playing a trick. So Lee screamed at them basically to check with their boss the PT flotilla leader, who would have known Lee by his nick-name from their Annapolis days together.

He's an interesting character. So Lee is a Chinese name, right? That's what most folks assume when they read the stories of "Ching Lee". But the "Lee" in his name is a direct lineage from the family of Robert E. Lee, so a rather non-Chinese ancestry. But with a name like "Lee", and an interest in the Far East and Chinese history, young Willis Augustus Lee picked up the nickname of "Ching Lee" while in school.

Also, he got some 6 medals at the 1920 Olympics, a co-record for most medals in a single Olympic sport that he held for over 60 years. His sport? Shooting.

Here is another quote from "Ching" Lee, soon after his fight with Kirishima:

We realized then and it should not be forgotten now, that our entire superiority was due almost entirely to our possession of radar. Certainly we have no edge on the Japs in experience, skill, training, or performance of personnel.

An interesting fellow. An interesting battle.

(aka: Mk 1)

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP19 May 2017 10:36 a.m. PST

Quite interesting indeed!.


nukesnipe Inactive Member19 May 2017 11:29 a.m. PST

Hornfischer's "Neptune's Infernal" is a good read regarding the naval actions surrounding Guadalcanal.


Scott Chisholm

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP20 May 2017 11:01 a.m. PST



codiver22 May 2017 4:46 a.m. PST

With the subject being "craziest", I think I would go with "The Battle of the Pips".

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