Strong DD-467 - History

Strong DD-467 - History

Strong DD-467

Strong(DD-467: dp. 2 050, 1. 376'6, b. 39'4"; dr. 13'5',- s. 35.5 k.; cpl. 213; a. 5 5', 4 40mm., 4 20mm., 2 dct., 6 dcp., 10 21" tt.; cl. Fletcher)The first Strong (DD-467) 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, Comdr Joseph H. Wellings in command.After completing her shakedown cruise and postshakedown availability, Strong sailed on 15 October with a convoy to San Juan, Puerto Rico, and returned to Norfolk, Va., 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 availibility 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. Strong then escorted the convoy northwest for two days and was relieved to return to Noumea. On 1 February, she and Strong (DD-508) 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 (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 (DD-449), Radford (DD 446), and Taylor (DD-468) 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. The target was illuminated by her searchlight and proved to be a Japanese submarine. Strong and O'Bannon (DD-450) opened fire with all guns. Strong made at least three 5-inch 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 insured 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 and 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 half-way 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 1414 and 1421, 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 0030 to 0040. Nine minutes later, Strong's gunnery officer sighted a torpedo wake. Before he had time to notify the bridge, the torpedo hit her port side aft. Chevalier (DD-451) 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, illuminatd them with star shells, and then opened fire with high explosives. O'Bannon began countery-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 40c to 60. Iist 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.Strong received two battle stars for World War II service.


The Strong completed shakedown, sailing for San Juan, Puerto Rico on convoy duty October 15, returning to Norfolk October 27. She was then assigned to escort duty out of New York, sailing with convoy UGS-2 to North Africa. At Casablanca she was assigned as escort for GUF-2 to New York, and then she returned to Norfolk. Following this, the Strong sailed for Noumea, arriving January 27, 1945. Along with the USS Cony, the Strong sailed for Espiritu Santo as an escort, departing February 1. Assigned to the Solomon Islands for patrol off Guadalcanal, she was then reassigned to Task Force 67 on February 13.

On March 14, the Strong, the USS Radford, USS Nicholas and USS Taylor sailed to Kolombangara Island. Two days later, they bombed enemy posts along the shore, and then returned to the Solomons. Early on April 5, the Strong detected a radar contact at just over five miles: a Japanese submarine. The USS O'Bannon and the Strong attacked, sinking the submarine. Early on May 7 she escorted minelayers at Blackett Strait. Their efforts paid off the next morning when four Japanese destroyers entered the minefield one sank, two incurred damage and were finished off by air support, and one was damaged but escaped. After bombing Kolombangara on the nights of May 12 and 13 with the help of Task Force 18, she headed for Guadalcanal. During afternoon patrol June 16, a squadron of about 15 Japanese planes attacked. The Strong took out three of the planes as they approached.


Legacy [ edit | edit source ]

Strong was struck from the Navel Vessel Register on 15 July 1943. The second USS Strong (DD-758) was laid down on 25 July 1943 at Bethlehem Steel in San Francisco.

Wreck Discovered [ edit | edit source ]

In mid-February 2019, the reseach vessel Petrel located the wreck in 300 meters [980 ft] of water. The ship is well broken up with the heavily damaged forward part of the ship resting on it's portside in a compact debris field taht contains the rest of the ship including well preserved wheelhouse, torpedo tubes,propellers and propeller shafts, 5" guns boilers and at least one intact funnel.


USS Strong (DD-467)


Figure 1: USS Strong (DD-467) delivers mail to USS Honolulu (CL-48) during operations in the Solomon Islands area, circa early July 1943. Note the sign painted on Honolulu's starboard catapult: "No Smoking Abaft This Sign." Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.


Figure 2: Stern view looking forward of USS Strong's (DD-467) twin screws and rudder. Photo taken on the day she was christened, 17 May 1942, at the Bath Iron Works Yard, Bath, Maine. Courtesy the National Archives and Records Administration. Click on photograph for larger image.


Figure 3: Heavily retouched copy of a photograph of USS Strong (DD-467) taken circa the latter part of 1942. The retouching, which includes the land in the distance and the ship from the forward smokestack to the top of the pilothouse, was mainly done for censorship purposes, to eliminate radar antennas from the ship's gun director and foremast. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.


Figure 4: USS Conyngham (DD-371) at Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides, 15 February 1943. The destroyer in the right background appears to be USS Strong (DD-467). Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.


Figure 5: South Pacific Operations, 1943. Ships of Task Force 18 are seen here during gunnery exercises off Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides, on 10 April 1943. At right are the destroyers Strong (DD-467) and O'Bannon (DD-450), making a turn. The three large ships in the distance are light cruisers, including St. Louis (CL-49) and Helena (CL-50) at left and either Nashville (CL-43) or Honolulu (CL-48) in the right center. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.

Named after James H. Strong, a famous Union ship captain during the Civil War, USS Strong (DD-467) was a 2,050-ton Fletcher class destroyer that was built by the Bath Iron Works at Bath, Maine, and was commissioned on 7 August 1942. The ship was approximately 376 feet long and 39 feet wide, had a top speed of 35.5 knots, and had a crew of 273 officers and men. Strong was armed with five 5-inch guns, four 40-mm anti-aircraft guns, four 20-mm cannons, ten 21-inch torpedo tubes, and depth charges.

After her shakedown cruise, Strong escorted a convoy to Puerto Rico in October 1942 and then another to North Africa in November. She then set sail for the Pacific on 27 December 1942. After transiting the Panama Canal, Strong refueled at Bora Bora in the Society Islands and arrived at Noumea, New Caledonia, on 27 January 1943. Strong began escorting convoys for two days and then was ordered to return to Noumea. On 1 February, Strong and the destroyer USS Cony (DD-508) escorted a convoy that was heading for Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides. Strong left Espiritu Santo on 5 February and headed for the Solomon Islands and patrolled off the coast of Guadalcanal until 13 February, when she was attached to Task Force (TF) 67, which was made up of four cruisers and several destroyers.

TF 67 spent the next few weeks patrolling off the coast of the Solomon Islands. On 14 March 1943, Strong and the destroyers USS Nicholas (DD-449), Radford (DD-446), and Taylor (DD-468) were detached from the task force to bombard shore targets on Kolombangara Island. They did so on 16 March, but then resumed their patrol duties around the Solomon Islands. On the morning of 5 April, Strong made a strong surface radar contact at a range of 9,350 yards. Strong illuminated the target with its search light and saw that it was a Japanese submarine steaming on the surface. Strong and the nearby destroyer USS O’Bannon (DD-450) quickly opened fire with all their guns. Strong hit the submarine at least three times with her 5-inch guns and numerous hits were made by O’Bannon as well. The Japanese submarine, which turned out to be RO-34, settled by the stern and sank. The two destroyers, though, dropped some depth charges where the submarine went down just to make sure that it really was sunk and would not come up again. RO-34 was never heard from again.

Strong then was attached to Task Force 18. During the early morning hours of 7 May 1943, Strong escorted three destroyers carrying mines into Blackett Strait, which was located between Kolombangara and Arundel Island. The small force dropped their mines and quickly left the area. The next morning, four Japanese destroyers blundered into the newly-laid minefield. One Japanese destroyer blew up and immediately sank, while two others were damaged and then sunk by prowling American aircraft a few hours later. Although badly damaged, the fourth Japanese destroyer managed to get away.

On the night of 12 and 13 May 1943, Strong and Task Force 18 bombarded Kolombangara. Strong was then assigned to patrol and escort duty off Guadalcanal. On the afternoon of 16 June, Strong was roughly halfway between Guadalcanal and Tulagi when approximately 15 Japanese dive bombers attacked the cargo ships she was escorting. Strong put up heavy anti-aircraft fire as the planes attacked and managed to shoot down three of the Japanese aircraft.

Shortly after midnight on 5 July 1943, Strong and Task Force 18 were ordered to bombard New Georgia Island in the Solomons after American troops had landed there. The ships fired on Rice Anchorage on the west side of New Georgia. As the American ships were leaving after the bombardment, a group of Japanese destroyers just happened to be approaching the area. The Japanese spotted the American task force and immediately fired their torpedoes at it. Strong’s gunnery officer saw one of the torpedoes coming straight for his ship, but did not have enough time to notify the bridge. A torpedo slammed into the port side of the destroyer, setting off a major explosion. One of the American destroyers in the task force, USS Chevalier (DD-451), saw that Strong had sustained a fatal hit and literally rammed Strong’s bow so that her crewmembers could throw nets and lifelines over the side to the men on board Strong, which was by now sinking. Well over 200 of Strong’s crewmembers managed to scramble on board Chevalier in only seven minutes. Meanwhile, Japanese gunners on New Georgia spotted the two American warships and illuminated them with star shells. The Japanese then opened fire on the incapacitated Strong with their artillery pieces, hitting her several times. USS O’Bannon began counter-battery fire against the Japanese position, trying to give some cover to Chevalier as she continued pulling men off Strong. Unfortunately, Chevalier had to cease rescue operations because Japanese artillery shells were now coming uncomfortably close to that ship as well. As Chevalier began leaving the area, Strong sank deeper into the water and was listing heavily. The doomed destroyer then broke in half just before she sank. But as she went down, some of her depth charges went off, killing a few of the survivors that were swimming in the water. A few minutes later, the two parts of the destroyer sank, taking 46 crewmembers with her.

This brief but deadly confrontation proved that whoever sees the enemy first usually gets the first shot. In this instance, one shot (or torpedo) was all that was needed to doom the destroyer Strong. But this incident also showed the incredible bravery and teamwork of the other destroyers in the American task force, with Chevalier trying to assist Strong while O’Bannon provided covering fire against the Japanese guns on shore. USS Strong was less than a year old before she died, but the ship still managed to receive two battle stars for her service in World War II.


Wreck of WWII destroyer USS Strong found off Solomon Islands

The wreckage of US Navy’s World War II destroyer USS Strong (DD 467) was discovered by the expedition crew of Paul G. Allen’s research vessel (R/V) Petrel resting 300 meters (nearly 1,000 feet) below the surface of Kula Gulf, north of the island of New Georgia, in the Solomon Islands.

The destroyer was found on February 6, 2019.

It was sunk on July 5, 1943 by an enemy torpedo thought to be from one of the longest distances ever in wartime. Of the 280 crew, 46 sailors were lost.

The story of survivor Lt. Hugh B. Miller and his 39 days stranded on Arundel Island was the subject of the book “The Castaway’s War” by Stephen Harding. While marooned, Lt. Miller attacked three Japanese machine gun nests and one enemy patrol. His heroics earned him the Navy Cross, bestowed on him personally by Eleanor Roosevelt.

According to the Navy’s historical account, American forces were landing at Rice Anchorage supported by Strong, USS Honolulu, USS Helena, USS St. Louis, and USS O’Bannon. They were headed for Kula Gulf to shell Japanese shore installations. Strong and Nicholas entered the harbor and opened fire not long after midnight. The burst lasted about ten minutes. Minutes after the salvo, Strong was struck by an enemy torpedo. The successful torpedo strike is thought to be from one of the greatest distances ever in warfare.

Within a few minutes, Strong was listing and going down. Surrounded by darkness, in the heat of enemy and friendly fire from ships and shore bombardment, things appeared desperate. In a bold move, Chevalier rammed Strong. The crew cast nets and lines over the two now-joined ships to effect a deck-to-deck rescue. The abandon ship order was given. In approximately seven minutes, hazardous conditions, with enemy submarines lurking, in the firing range of hostile enemy bases, and explosions all around, 234 enlisted men and seven officers, about three-quarters of the ship’s company, made it across onto Chevalier. As enemy fire rained in, the Chevalier pulled away. Strong, possibly splitting in two, was slipping below the surface. As Strong slipped beneath the waves, her depth charges exploded, rendering Chevalier’s radars and sound gear useless. Ultimately, 46 Strong sailors went down with her.

“With each ship we find and survey, it is the human stories that make each one personal,” said Robert Kraft, expedition lead and director of subsea operations for Petrel. “We need to remember and honor our history and its heroes, living and dead.”

Petrel is a 250-foot research and exploration vessel purchased in 2016 by the late Paul G. Allen.

US Navy photo of USS Strong (DD 467) during operations in the Solomon Islands area, circa early July 1943.


Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships

Strong was promoted to commander in April 1861 and commanded Mohawk and Flag in the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron in 1861 and 1862 and Monongahela in the West Gulf Blockading Squadron from 1863 to 1865. At the Battle of Mobile Bay, he was the first to ram the Confederate ironclad Tennessee and received high commendation for his initiative and valor.

(DD-467: dp. 2 050, l. 376'6" b. 39'4" dr. 13'5" s. 35.5 k. cpl. 273 a. 5 5', 4 40mm., 4 20mm., 2 dct., 6 dcp., 10 21" tt. cl. Fletcher)

The first Strong (DD-467) 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, Comdr. 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, Va., 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. Strong then escorted the convoy northwest for two days and was relieved to return to Noumea. On 1 February, she and Cony (DD-508) 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 (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 (DD-449), Radford (DD 446), and Taylor (DD-468) 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. The target was illuminated by her searchlight and proved to be a Japanese submarine. Strong and O'Bannon (DD-450) opened fire with all guns. Strong made at least three 5-inch 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 insured 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 and 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 half-way 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 1414 and 1421, 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 0030 to 0040. Nine minutes later, Strong's gunnery officer sighted a torpedo wake. Before he had time to notify the bridge, the torpedo hit her port side aft. Chevalier (DD-451) 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.

Strong received two battle stars for World War II service. Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Patrick Clancey, HyperWar Foundation


NavWeaps Forums

BTW, what was the distance for the hit on USS O'Brien?

Apr 19, 2020 #12 2020-04-19T14:23

Apr 19, 2020 #13 2020-04-19T16:21

Would be very interested to know what the distance from I-19 to NC was (or whatever ship was furthest from the sub). Tried to look up on www and a few books at hand but can't find anything 'firm'. I'll keep looking though.

We discussed, elsewhere, and quite some time ago, the 'longest Jap torp hit of the war,' and can't recall what was settled, but HIJMS Haguro's hit on Hr. Ms. Kortenaer at Java Sea (27 Feb 42) was certainly a contender at over 20,000yds.

Apr 19, 2020 #14 2020-04-19T17:18

Would be very interested to know what the distance from I-19 to NC was (or whatever ship was furthest from the sub). Tried to look up on www and a few books at hand but can't find anything 'firm'. I'll keep looking though.

We discussed, elsewhere, and quite some time ago, the 'longest Jap torp hit of the war,' and can't recall what was settled, but HIJMS Haguro's hit on Hr. Ms. Kortenaer at Java Sea (27 Feb 42) was certainly a contender at over 20,000yds.

Apr 21, 2020 #15 2020-04-21T02:46

Apr 22, 2020 #16 2020-04-22T07:31

Well, that 'claim' may be debatable, if not outright wrong. The info I found - to back up that 'belief' - reads' "The 2018 expedition searched for, but was unable to locate, the destroyer USS Strong (DD-467), sunk in the southern Kula Gulf by what is believed to be the longest successful torpedo shot in history (11 nautical miles) by a Japanese Type-93 “Long Lance” torpedo. Petrel would subsequently locate Strong on 26 February 2019." (Note: I have underlined the word 'believed'.)

Having done some more research myself since my previous post (the figure in which 'over 20,000 yds' came off the top of my head), and with the help / confirmation of a very well informed member (on such matters as Java Sea battles) on another forum, according to IJN records Haguro fired her torpedoes (one of which struck Kortenaer) at a distance of a minimum of 22,000 metres. Which is 11.87 nautical miles . And although the time is known for both the firing (from IJN sources) and the hit on Kortenaer (from Allied sources), getting an exact range figure depends somewhat on which of the three speed settings the IJN (or Haguro) were using for their torps that day (which presently remains unknown). So the hit could have been at an even longer range. But as I said, the 22,000 metre figure is the one generally accepted.

So, rather than split hairs I would say at worst a tie (with Niitzuki), at best a win for Haguro. Be that as it may, both were very long range hits indeed! And it also goes to show just how neglected is research on those forgotten (i.e. the Allies lost them) Java Sea Battles. It wasn't for nothing that Walter 'Windy' Winslow titled his book "The Fleet The God's Forgot".

But we now degress off the original topic, and for this I apologise, as neither of the above hits were on BB's.


Transy grad, WWII sailor’s ship found at sea 76 years after sinking

USS STRONG DD-467, photo courtesy of the USS STRONG Association

Just after midnight on July 5, 1943, the USS Strong, a destroyer in the U.S. Navy’s World War II fleet, entered Baikoro Harbor in the Solomon Islands ahead of a larger American force. Within the hour, the ship, carrying more than 300 sailors, was torpedoed and sunk. Forty-six men went down with the ship, including a young officer, Ensign William C. “Billy” Hedrick Jr., a 1940 graduate of Transylvania University.

Now, 76 years later, the R/V Petrel and its team of researchers, engineers and explorers have located the ship, which until this month had been lost at sea. According to the R/V Petrel website, wreckage from the USS Strong was discovered on February 6, 2019, nearly 1,000 feet below the surface, resting on the floor of the Kula Gulf in the Solomon Sea.

“With each ship we find and survey, it is the human stories that make each one personal,” Robert Kraft, expedition lead and director of subsea operations for the Petrel, said in a news release announcing the discovery. “We need to remember and honor our history and its heroes, living and dead. We need to bring their spirit to life and be grateful every day for the sacrifices made by so many on our behalf.”

William C. “Billy” Hedrick Jr. 󈧬 as a senior and editor of the Crimson, Transylvania’s yearbook.

Kentucky’s Billy Hedrick was one of those who made the ultimate sacrifice aboard the USS Strong.

Hedrick was one of 14 children born to William Clay and Emma Manley Hedrick of Mount Sterling, Kentucky. He entered Transylvania as a freshman in 1936 on a full scholarship and excelled in his studies. An article in his hometown newspaper after his sophomore year described him as “…possibly the most outstanding college student in Lexington, or in the State of Kentucky.” It went on to say that he “…has made a remarkable and most unusual record, both years he has attended the college….getting all As in all his classes, and is the only student in the college with such a wonderful record.”

Hedrick was a member and officer of Phi Kappa Tau and worked on the staff of The Crimson, serving as editor in chief his senior year. He was also member of the Pi Kappa Delta honorary forensic fraternity and secretary-treasurer for Sigma Epsilon, an honorary literary fraternity.

After graduating magna cum laude in 1940, Hedrick returned to Montgomery County and taught at Mt. Sterling City High School for two years before enlisting in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He was assigned to the USS Strong where he served as an ensign and junior communications officer.

Just past midnight on July 5, 1943, the Strong, with Hedrick aboard, was hit by a Japanese long lance torpedo in the Kula Gulf. During the rescue operation, another ship, the USS Chevalier, rammed the Strong, collapsing part of the destroyer’s superstructure and trapping Hedrick, who was below decks destroying classified files. Forty-six sailors perished when the ship went down more than 230 were rescued. Hedrick was posthumously awarded the Silver Star.

A photo of the bow of the USS Strong. The anchor shank and some chain is visible in the wreckage discovered in February 2019. Photo via R/V Petrel.

Decades after his death, Hedrick’s great niece, Tammi Hedrick Johnson, worked with Transylvania’s Special Collections Librarian B.J. Gooch to uncover details of her great uncle’s time on campus.

“B.J. helped me in the archives as I searched for information on my uncle Billy. There were volumes of newspapers I looked through from 1936-1940 to find snippets of information on his life there and I found much,” Johnson explained. Her work to uncover Hedrick’s time at Transy was featured in the spring 2010 edition of Transylvania Magazine (see page 24).

Johnson says there are both “no words and too many words” to describe the news that the USS Strong’s wreckage and her great uncle’s final resting place has been found.

“How does a person really process something like this? This has been an ongoing project from the first time I saw the brass plaque honoring him on the back of the family headstone in Mount Sterling,” Johnson said. “A Google search in 1998 got me started on building a project. It’s taken over 20 years, but it’s been worth every minute.”

Hedrick is one of 39 Transylvanians who lost their lives in service to their country during World War II, and his memory still lives on today. After his death in July 1943, Phi Kappa Tau established the Hedrick Cup, an award still given each year to the fraternity member who achieves the highest academic standing.

For more on Billy Hedrick and the USS Strong, click here to visit the Project USS STRONG DD 467 website created by Tammi Johnson.


Wreckage of WWII Destroyer USS Strong Discovered in Solomon Sea

The Wreckage of World War II destroyer USS Strong (DD 467) was discovered, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019, resting nearly 1,000 feet below the surface of Kula Gulf, north of the island of New Georgia, in the Solomon Islands, according to a release from the expedition crew of Paul G. Allen’s research vessel (R/V) Petrel.

USS Strong (DD 467) highlines mail to USS Honolulu (CL 48) during operations in the Solomon Islands area, circa early July 1943. PC: U.S. Navy

Strong was sunk on July 5, 1943, by an enemy torpedo thought to be from one of the longest distances ever in wartime. Of the 280 crew, 46 Sailors were lost.

The story of survivor Lt. Hugh B. Miller and his 39 days stranded on Arundel Island was the subject of the book “The Castaway’s War” by Stephen Harding. While marooned, Lt. Miller attacked three Japanese machine gun nests and one enemy patrol. His heroics earned him the Navy Cross, bestowed on him personally by Eleanor Roosevelt. Read more about Miller on The Sextant blog.

The port side propeller of USS Strong (DD 467). PC: Paul G. Allen’s Vucan Inc.

“If you need examples of Sailor integrity, accountability, initiative and toughness when great power competition heats up, you can’t go wrong reading the full story of the gallantry that accompanied the loss of USS Strong,” said Rear Adm. (Ret.) Samuel Cox, director of Naval History and Heritage Command. “While the loss of Strong and 46 of her Sailors was tragic, it’s also an inspirational moment in the history of our Navy.”

According to the Navy’s historical account, summarized in another Sextant blog post, American forces were landing at Rice Anchorage supported by Strong, USS Honolulu, USS Helena, USS St. Louis, and USS O’Bannon. They were headed for Kula Gulf to shell Japanese shore installations. Strong and Nicholas entered the harbor and opened fire not long after midnight. The burst lasted about ten minutes. Minutes after the salvo, Strong was struck by an enemy torpedo. The successful torpedo strike is thought to be from one of the greatest distances ever in warfare.

The number one 5-inch gun from the wreck of USS Strong (DD 467), which was discovered Feb. 6, 2019, in the Solomon Sea. PC: Paul G. Allen’s Vucan Inc.

Within a few minutes, Strong was listing and going down. Surrounded by darkness, in the heat of enemy and friendly fire from ships and shore bombardment, things appeared desperate. In a bold move, Chevalier rammed Strong. The crew cast nets and lines over the two now-joined ships to effect a deck-to-deck rescue. The abandon ship order was given. In approximately seven minutes, hazardous conditions, with enemy submarines lurking, in the firing range of hostile enemy bases, and explosions all around, 234 enlisted men and seven officers, about three-quarters of the ship’s company, made it across onto Chevalier. As enemy fire rained in, the Chevalier pulled away. Strong, possibly splitting in two, was slipping below the surface. As Strong slipped beneath the waves, her depth charges exploded, rendering Chevalier’s radars and sound gear useless. Ultimately, 46 Strong Sailors went down with her.

“With each ship we are find and survey, it is the human stories that make each one personal,” said Robert Kraft, expedition lead and director of subsea operations for Petrel. “We need to remember and honor our history and its heroes, living and dead.”

Petrel is a 250-foot research and exploration vessel purchased in 2016 by the late Paul G. Allen.


Strong DD-467 - History

1,336 Tons (Normal)
1,800 Tons (Deep Load)
320' x 30' 1" x 9' 9"
4 x 12cm Type 3 guns
2x3 24" torpedo tubes
18 x Depth Charges
16 x Mines

Wartime History
On November 26, 1941 departed with Desron 5 from Terashima Strait to Mako. On December 8, 1941 at the start of the Pacific War, supported the initial Japanese landings in Aparri on northern Luzon in the Philippines. On December 22, 1941 supported the landing force at Lingayen Gulf on Luzon and sustained light damage from strafing by U.S. aircraft and suffered one crew member killed and five wounded. During January 1942 to February 1942 escorted a troop convoy from Formosa to Malaya and Camranh Bay.

On February 27, 1942 supported the Western Java invasion force. On March 10, 1942 Desron 5 is deactivated and the destroyers are reassigned to Second Southern Expeditionary Fleet, Southwest Area Fleet. On April 10, 1942 reassigned to the 1st Surface Escort Division, Southwest Area Fleet and escorts convoys and five days later Lieutenant Commander Ninokata Kanehumi takes command.

On September 19, 1942 arrives Sasebo for repairs and new underwater sound detection equipment is installed. On October 28, 1942 departs Sasebo and two days later arrives Moji and then returns to the South Pacific for escort duties. On December 1, 1942 assigned to the 1st Surface Escort Division.

On January 21, 1943 departs Sasebo with Fumizuki and Satsuki escorting Kamikawa Maru via Truk and Rabaul to Shortland Harbor. On February 1, 1943 performs a "Tokyo Express' run to provide cover for the evacuation of Japanese troops from Cape Esperance on Guadalcanal.

On February 4, 1943 again provides cover for the evacuation of Japanese troops from Cape Esperance on Guadalcanal and returning tows disabled Maikaze back to the Shortlands.

On February 7, 1943 again cover for the evacuation of Japanese troops from the Russell Islands and aids damaged Isokaze. On February 11, 1943 escorts a convoy from Shortland Harbor via Rabaul to Palau arriving six days later.

On July 2-3, 1943 Nagatsuki and Yubari plus eight other destroyers conduct a shore bombardment mission of Rendova Island.

On July 4, 1943 during the night Nagatsuki with Niizuki, Satsuki and Yunagi part of a high speed troop transport "Tokyo Express" run bound for Kolombangara Island but the mission was aborted when U.S. warships from Task Force 18 (TF 18). On July 5, 1943 after midnight, the destroyers fired a salvo torpedoes. One of the torpedoes from Niizuki hit and sank USS Strong (DD-467) from 11 nautical miles away in what is believed to be the longest successful torpedo shot in the history of Naval warfare.

Sinking History
During the night of July 5-6, 1943 high speed troop transport "Tokyo Express" run bound for Kolombangara Island intercepted by U.S. Navy (USN) force during the Battle of Kula Gulf and was hit by a 6" shell causing damage and ran aground while unloaded troops at Bambari Harbor (Jack Cove) on Kolombangara Island. Afterwards, Satsuki attempted to tow the destroyer free without success.

On July 6, 1943 while grounded bombed by U.S. aircraft twice and suffered eight dead and 13 wounded with bombs causing an explosion and fire. Afterwards, the damaged and grounded destroyer was abandoned. On October 1, 1943 officially removed from the Navy list.

Fates of the Crew
The surviving crew including Lt. Commander Furukawa waded ashore onto Kolombangara Island and walked with the infantry they landed to Vila.

Shipwreck
This destroyer was abandoned parallel to the shore with a slight list to port. On May 8, 1944 the destroyer was photographed by USS Montpelier (CL-57). At this time, the shipwreck was hard aground with the deck line above water. The bow section forward of the bridge and no. 2 stack were missing, possibly from the explosion.


Postwar, most of the destroyer was salvaged for scrap metal. By the early 2000s, only small pieces of wreckage remain in shallow water including the boilers and other parts.

Gareth Colman adds:
"Rumor has it it was used for target practice which makes sense as it has been pancaked and there is not much left. There a couple of boilers and bits and pieces but not much to make it distinguishable as a destroyer."

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Watch the video: LC Fight - State 467 VS 97: Kill Event::: Last Shelter Survival