USS Indiana (BB-58) Shells Japan

USS Indiana (BB-58) fires a salvo from her forward 16-inch (406-millimeter) guns at the Japan Iron Company plant in Kamaishi, 250 miles north of Tokyo. A second before, USS South Dakota (BB-57), from which this photograph was taken, fired the initial salvo of the first naval gunfire bombardment of the Japanese Home Islands. Task Unit 34.8.1, consisting of Indiana, USS Massachusetts (BB-59), USS South Dakota (BB-57), USS Chicago (CA-136) and USS Quincy (CA-71) were detailed to attack Honshu. One of the cruisers can be seen behind Indiana. The Japanese were completely surprised and no resistance was encountered. The shelling started great fires and caused much destruction, one steel mill and other works being demolished. On the next day the ships bombarded the port of Muroran, in Hokkaido, where steel works and other industrial plants were destroyed. Anthony Michael Sersen, Radioman 3rd Class, later reported, "I had special interest in this engagement because I had previously worked for Bethlehem Steel Company in the shop where the 16-inch shells used in the bombardment were made and treated. As a radioman I listened in to the conversation between our spotter plane and our gunnery officer. I could just imagine the place being blown up and the resulting fires. After the war I went back to work in the same department that made the shells." The battleships returned to shell the damaged Iron Works on August 9, 1945, the last time battleship shells were fired in World War II.
Caption Written By: 
Jason McDonald
United States Historical Center
Date Photographed: 
Saturday, July 14, 1945
Iwate Prefecture