USS Strong - (DD-467)
|Builder:||Bath Iron Works, Bath, ME|
|Laid down:||April 30 1941|
|Launched:||May 17 1942|
|First commissioned:||August 7 1942|
|Fate:||Sunk by Japanese destroyers off Baioko Harbor, New Georgia, July 5 1943|
USS Strong (DD-467), a Fletcher-class destroyer, was the first ship of the United States Navy to be named for Rear Admiral James H. Strong (1814–1882), who distinguished himself at the Battle of Mobile Bay.
Strong was laid down on 30 April 1941 at Bath, Maine, by Bath Iron Works; launched on 17 May 1942; sponsored by Mrs. Hobart Olson; and commissioned on 7 August 1942, Commander Joseph H. Wellings in command.
After completing her shakedown cruise and post-shakedown availability, Strong sailed on 15 October with a convoy to San Juan, Puerto Rico, and returned to Norfolk, Virginia, on the 27th. She departed there two days later for New York. On 13 November, Strong sailed with convoy UGS-2 bound for North African ports. She arrived at Casablanca on 29 November and returned to New York with convoy GUF-2. Following a yard availability period, 11 to 26 December, the destroyer moved to Norfolk.
Strong sailed on 27 December 1942; transited the Panama Canal; refueled at Bora Bora, Society Islands; and arrived at Noumea on 27 January 1943. Strong then escorted the convoy northwest for two days and was relieved to return to Nouméa. On 1 February, she and USS Cony escorted a convoy bound for Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides. She sailed from there on 5 February for the Solomon Islands and patrolled off Guadalcanal until the 13th when she joined Task Force 67 (TF 67) composed of four cruisers and their destroyer screen.
The task force devoted most of the next month to patrol duty in waters in and around the Solomons. On 14 March, Strong, Nicholas, Radford, and Taylor were detached to bombard shore installations on Kolombangara island and shelled targets on Vila Stanmore Plantation on 16 March. The force then resumed patrol duties in the Solomons. On the morning of 5 April, Strong made a surface radar contact at a range of 9,350 yards (8,550 m). The target was illuminated by her searchlight and proved to be a Japanese submarine. Strong and O'Bannon opened fire with all guns. Strong made at least three 5-inch (127 mm) hits on the submarine, and O'Bannon also scored. The submarine, Ro-34, settled by the stern and went under. Depth charge patterns from the destroyers ensured that it stayed down.
Strong, with TF 18, accompanied three destroyer minelayers to Blackett Strait, between Kolombangara and Arundel Island, and mined it in the early morning hours of 7 May. The next morning, four Japanese destroyers sailed around Kolombangara into the strait and the minefield. One sank immediately; two were damaged and sunk by aircraft that afternoon; and the fourth, although badly damaged, managed to escape.
On the night of 12–13 May, Strong and the task force bombarded Kolombangara, Enogai Inlet, and Rice Anchorage. The destroyer then began escort and patrol duty off Guadalcanal. On the afternoon of 16 June, she was about halfway between Guadalcanal and Tulagi when a flight of approximately 15 Japanese dive bombers attacked American shipping. Strong was the closest ship to the bombers as they approached in a shallow glide from the direction of Koli Point. Between 14:14 and 14:21, she splashed three of them.
On the morning of 5 July, American forces landed at Rice Anchorage. Strong and TF 18 were to support the landings by shelling Vila-Stanmore, Enogai, and Bairoko. Strong and Nicholas entered Bairoko Harbor to search ahead of the main force and shelled the harbor from 00:30 to 00:40. Nine minutes later, Strongs gunnery officer sighted a torpedo wake. Before he had time to notify the bridge, the torpedo hit her port side aft. Chevalier intentionally rammed Strong's bow to enable her to throw nets and lines to the stricken ship, and removed 241 men in about seven minutes. Japanese gunners on Enogai beach spotted the ships, illuminated them with star shells, and then opened fire with high explosives. O'Bannon began counter-battery fire in an effort to silence the enemy guns which were soon hitting Strong. Chevalier had to cease rescue operations lest she also get hit.
Strong began to settle rapidly with a 40° to 60° list to starboard. She broke in half just before sinking. Several of her depth charges exploded, causing further injuries and loss of life. Forty-six men perished with the ship. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 15 July 1943. The fatal Type 93 torpedo was a wayward Long Lance which came from a salvo fired by the Japanese destroyers, led by Niizuki, heavily engaged in a separate naval action with American light cruisers and destroyers in the Battle of Kula Gulf, from a distance of 11 nautical miles (20 km), and is believed to be longest-range successful torpedo attack in history!
Strong was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 15 July 1943.
In mid-February 2019, the research vessel Petrel located the wreck in 300 meters (980 ft) meters of water. The ship is well broken up with the heavily damaged forward part of the ship resting on its port side in a compact debris field that contains the rest of the ship, including her fairly well preserved wheelhouse, torpedo tubes, propellers and propeller shafts, 5" guns, boilers, and at least one intact funnel.