|After Midway: The
Fates of the U.S. and Japanese Warships
by Bryan J. Dickerson
Midway was the pivotal battle of the war in the Pacific. Originally conceived
by the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) as a trap to destroy the U.S. Pacific Fleet
and its remaining aircraft carriers, the battle turned out to be a disaster for
the IJN instead. When it was over, four Japanese aircraft carriers had been
sunk and the tide of the war had been turned against them.
Altogether, some 200 warships fought in the Battle of Midway or supported the
combat operations. Four Japanese carriers and a cruiser were sunk. The U.S.
Navy lost one carrier and one destroyer. But what became of the remaining ships
of the Battle of Midway? Of the IJN's ships, nearly all were sunk during the
war. With one exception, the few that survived the war were scrapped within a
couple years of the Japanese surrender. Of the U.S. Navy's warships, 39.5% were
sunk or lost at sea during the war. The rest served for varying lengths of time
before being mothballed and scrapped or scuttled. Today, virtually all traces
of the Midway combatants have disappeared, save those upon the ocean's floor
where they lay to decay.
Prelude to Battle of Midway
The first six months of the war in the Pacific were disastrous for the United
States Navy. It began with the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor that
devastated the battleship force of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. The U.S. Navy's
Asiatic Fleet was wiped out in the early months of 1942 along with naval
squadrons from other Allied nations. The Navy was able to turn back a Japanese
invasion force at the Battle of Coral Sea in May 1942 but at a cost of one of
its precious aircraft carriers USS Lexington (CV-2) being sunk and
another – USS Yorktown (CV-5) -- severely damaged.
Scarcely a month later, the Imperial Japanese Navy attempted to lure the U.S.
Pacific Fleet into a decisive battle off Midway Island, an obscure coral atoll
several thousand miles from Hawaii. Their goal was to destroy the remaining
American naval forces, and capture Midway. From Midway, the Japanese could then
threaten Hawaii and defend its vast Pacific Empire from U.S. counter-attacks.
The seizure of Midway would also eliminate the island as a re-fueling base for
U.S. submarines and prevent another Doolittle Raid from occurring. As Japanese
Admiral Chuichi Nagumo – commander of the aircraft carrier striking force -
later stated, "Midway Island acts as a sentry for Hawaii." 
The Midway operation was under the command of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, who
also conceived and executed the Pearl Harbor attack. His plan was three-fold:
(1) occupy Midway Island, (2) occupy the western Aleutian Islands and (3)
destroy the U.S. fleet. To do so, Yamamoto broke his forces into five parts.
The Advanced Expeditionary Force consisted of submarines. The Carrier Striking
Force under Admiral Nagumo was centered upon the fleet carriers Akagi,
Hiryu, Kagi, and Soryu . The Midway Occupation Force
consisted of battleships, cruisers, transports and two seaplane carriers.
Admiral Yamamoto sailed with the Main Body that held battleships and a light
aircraft carrier. This group was further divided into an Aleutian Screening
Force of battleships and light cruisers. The fifth component was the Northern
Area Force which was tasked with occupying Kiska and Attu in the Aleutians. 
But events did not occur as the Japanese had planned. Utilizing code-breaking
and intuitive intelligence analysis, Admiral Chester Nimitz and his staff were
able to discern the Japanese intentions and devise a counter-strategy to turn
the tables on the Japanese. In addition, USS Yorktown was hastily repaired at
Pearl Harbor and rushed back into service. Now consisting of three aircraft
carriers (USS Yorktown, USS Enterprise (CV-6) and USS Hornet
(CV-8)), the U.S. forces lay in wait for the Japanese north-east of Midway
Composition of the Fleets: 
Imperial Japanese Navy – 
Fleet Carriers: Akagi, Hiryu, Kaga, Soryu
Light Carriers: Hosho, Zuiho
Seaplane Carriers: Chitose, Kamikawa Maru, Chiyoda, Nisshin
Battleships: Fuso, Haruna, Hiei, Hyuga, Ise, Kirishima, Kongo, Mutsu, Nagato,
Cruisers: Atago, Chikuma, Chokai, Haguro, Jintsu, Kitagami, Kumano, Mikuma,
Mogami, Myoko, Nagara, Oi, Suzuya, Tone
Destroyers: Akigumo, Amagiri, Amatsukaze, Arare, Arashi, Arashio, Asagiri,
Asashio, Asagumo, Ayanami, Fubuki, Hagikaze, Hamakaze, Harusame, Hatsukaze,
Hatsuyuki, Hayashio, Isokaze, Isonami, Kagero, Kasumi, Kazagumo, Kuroshio,
Maikaze, Makigumo, Minegumo, Mirazuki, Murakumo, Murasame, Natsugumo, Nowake,
Oyashio, Samidare, Shikinami, Shiranuhi, Shirakumo, Shirayuki, Tanikaze,
Tokitsukaze, Urakaze, Uranami, Yudachi, Yugiri, Yugumo, Yukaze, Yukikaze
Submarines: I-121, I-122, I-123, I-156, I-157, I-158, I-159, I-162, I-164*,
I-165, I-166, I-168,
I-169, I-171, I-174, I-175
Oilers: Akebono Maru, Genyo Maru, Kenyo Maru, Kokuyo Maru, Kyokuto Maru,
Naruto, Nichiei Maru, Nippon Maru, San Clemente Maru, Sata, Shnikoku Maru, Toa
Maru, Toei Maru, Tohu Maru, Tsurumi
Repair Ship: Akashi
Transports: Soya, Meiyo Maru, Yamafuku Maru
Patrol Boats: No. 1, No. 2, No. 34, No. 35
Submarine Chasers: No. 16, No. 17, No. 18
Converted Minesweepers: Tama Maru No. 3, Tama Maru No. 5, Showa Maru No. 7,
Showa Maru No. 8
U.S. Navy – 
Aircraft Carriers: Enterprise, Hornet, Yorktown
Battleships: None. Despite the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S.
Navy had several battleships still available for service. However, these
battleships were slow and unable to keep up with the fast carriers. So the
battleships were held in reserve on the West Coast of the United States. 
Cruisers: Astoria, Atlanta, Minneapolis, New Orleans, Northampton, Pensacola,
Destroyers: Aylwin, Anderson, Balch, Benham, Blue, Clark, Conyngham, Dewey,
Ellet, Gwin, Hammann, Hughes, Maury, Monaghan, Monssen, Morris, Phelps,
Russell, Ralph Talbot, Worden
Submarines: Cachalot, Cuttlefish, Dolphin, Finback, Flying Fish, Gato,
Grayling, Grenadier, Grouper, Growler, Grudgeon, Narwhal, Nautilus, Pike,
Plunger, Tambor, Tarpon, Trigger, Trout
Support Ships and Miscellaneous Craft: PT-20, PT-21, PT-22, PT-24, PT-25,
PT-26, PT-27, PT-28,(at Midway Atoll), PT-29, PT-30 and four
small patrol craft (at Kure Island), Thornton, Ballard, Kakoli, Crystal, Vireo
and four YPs.
The Battle of Midway 
In the early days of June 1942, American and Japanese forces clashed in the
region around Midway Island. The IJN and the American defenders of Midway
launched successive air attacks against each other. Then the U.S. Navy got into
the fray and a series of air attacks were exchanged with the IJN.
Brilliant strategy, courage and good fortune produced a decisive American
victory. U.S. carrier planes caught the Japanese carriers re-fueling and
re-arming their aircraft and set three of them ablaze in a matter of minutes.
The U.S. Navy was able to thwart the Japanese plans and inflict the first
devastating defeat upon the IJN in 500 years.
Japanese aircraft carriers (Akagi, Hiryu, Kaga, and Soryu)
and the heavy cruiser Mikuma were sunk. The IJN submarine I-164 was
sunk by the U.S. submarine USS Triton (SS-201) off Kyushu while steaming to
participate in the Midway operation. The cruiser Mogami and destroyers
Asashio and Arashio were damaged. The IJN also lost 253 aircraft and over 3,500
personnel. The U.S. Navy lost the carrier USS Yorktown, the destroyer USS
Hammann (DD-412) and 150 aircraft and 307 personnel. The Japanese
still occupied Kiska and Attu but the tide of war was decisively turned against
them. The U.S. would soon go on the offensive in the Solomon Islands and begin
the hard work of dismantling the Japanese Empire. 
The IJN After Midway
After Midway, the IJN fought a tenacious, at times desperate, war against the
U.S. Navy. Ultimately, the IJN was devastated; scant few of its Midway ships
survived the war.
Two light carriers and four seaplane carriers survived the carrier carnage at
Midway. The seaplane carrier Nisshin was sunk by Allied aircraft off
Bougainville on 22 July 1943. The seaplane carrier Kamikawa Maru was
sunk by the USS Scamp (SS-277) in the Bismarck Archipelago at the end of May
1943. The carriers Zuiho, Chitose and Chiyoda were sunk by
U.S. carrier planes north-east of Luzon in the Philippines on 25 October 1944.
Only Hosho survived the war. 
battleships participated in or played supporting roles in the Battle of Midway.
Of them, only Nagato survived the war. Hiei and Kirishima
were sunk in the Solomons off Savo Island in mid-November 1942. Kirishima
was sunk by the U.S. battleship USS Washington (BB-56) during one of
the few battleship vs. battleship engagements of the war. Mutsu suffered
a magazine explosion on 8 June 1943 in Hiroshima Bay, Japan, and sank. Fuso and
Yamashiro were sunk during the Battle of Surigao Strait by a force of old U.S.
battleships that had survived the Pearl Harbor attack. Kongo was sunk by USS
Sealion (SS-315) on 21 November 1944 off Foochow, China with a spread
of torpedoes that also sank the destroyer Urakaze. Haruna, Ise,
and Hyuga were sunk in the shallow waters of Kure, Japan, by U.S.
carrier planes on 28 July 1945. 
Ise and Hyuga had perhaps the most bizarre post-Midway lives.
In an attempt to replace their carrier losses, the Japanese attempted to
convert the two battleships into aircraft carriers. The aft pair of main
turrets were removed and replaced by a short hangar deck and flight deck with
catapults. They were designed to carry 22 aircraft but could only launch them.
Their conversion tied up precious shipyard space and resources for nearly two
years. U.S. carrier planes sunk them both at Kure on 28 July 1945. 
On 12 April 1945, Yamato and a force of destroyers attempted a suicide attack
against the U.S. fleet off Okinawa. U.S. carrier planes struck the force well
before they got in range of the U.S. ships and decimated them. Yamato was
sunk along with her destroyer escorts Hamakaze, Isokaze, and Kasumi
Ten IJN heavy cruisers fought at Midway. One was sunk during the battle. Of the
remaining nine, eight were sunk later in the war and one was so heavily damaged
that it was scuttled after the war. Six of the IJN heavy cruisers were sunk by
U.S. Navy air, surface, and submarine forces in the Philippines in the fall of
1944. U.S carrier planes sank Chikuma, Chokai, and Suzuya,
and were assisted by surface forces in sinking Mogami. Atago was sunk by the
submarine USS Darter (SS-227) off Palawan on 23 October 1944. At the
time, she was serving as the flagship of Vice Admiral Kurita. Haguro was
sunk by Royal Navy carrier planes on 16 May 1945 off Penang. The cruiser Tone
was damaged several times throughout the war before finally being sunk in
shallow water in Kure harbor on 28 July 1945 by U.S. carrier planes. 
Kumano proved especially difficult to sink. During
the Battle off Samar in October 1944, she was struck
by torpedoes fired by the USS Johnston (DD-577) and
had her bow blown off. After being towed from the
battle, Kumano's bow was replaced and returned to
service. Not long after, she was caught by four U.S.
submarines while escorting a convoy. A total of 23
torpedoes were fired at her, blowing off her bow
again, but still she managed to stay afloat. She was
towed to shallow water and beached. U.S. carrier
planes eventually finished her off in November 1944. 
Myoko was the only IJN heavy cruiser to survive the war afloat. She
was torpedoed by the submarine USS Bergall (SS-320) on 13 December
1944 but survived. Her stern was cut-off and she was laid up at Singapore. At
the war's end, she surrendered to the Royal Navy. 
Of the seven light cruisers fought at Midway, only one heavily damaged ship
survived the war. Katori was sunk on 17 February 1944 near Truk in the
central Pacific by U.S. air and surface forces. Nagara was sunk on 7
August 1944 by a U.S. submarine off Kyushu. Yura was sunk by U.S.
carrier planes off Santa Isabel Island in the Solomons on 25 October 1942. Jintsu
was sunk on 13 July 1943 north of Kolombangara by U.S. surface forces. Sendai
was sunk on 2 November 1943 west of Bougainville by U.S. surface forces. Oi was
torpedoed and sunk by USS Flasher (SS-249) in the South China Sea on
19 July 1944. Though damaged by U.S. carrier planes while at anchor in Kure on
24 July 1945, Kitagami was the only light cruiser to survive the war.
The Japanese brought 46 destroyers to the Midway operation. Within six months
of Midway, eight destroyers had been sunk. Seventeen more were sunk during 1943
and another fifteen were sunk the following year. The battles in the Solomon
Islands proved the most disastrous for the IJN destroyers; twenty-three were
sunk there. Sixteen IJN destroyers were sunk by aircraft. Of these, U.S. Navy
and U.S. Army Air Force aircraft each sank seven and U.S. Marine Corps aircraft
sank two. Mines sank five IJN destroyers. Only two IJN destroyers – Yukaze
and Yukikaze -- survived the war. 
U.S. Navy surface forces accounted for the most IJN destroyers, sinking
thirteen of them with naval gunfire and surface-launched torpedoes. Ayanami
was sunk by USS Washington in the same battle in which the latter sank the IJN
battleship Kirishima. Murasame and Minegumo were
sunk by naval gunfire on the night of 5-6 March 1943 off New Georgia Island in
the Solomons. Hagikazi and Arashi were sunk in Vella Gulf on
the night of 6-7 August 1943 in the Solomons. 
U.S. submarines sank ten IJN destroyers. Two of these destroyers were sunk by USS
Growler (SS-215) which had also been involved in the Midway operation.
The destroyer Arare was sunk by torpedoes fired by Growler while
she lay at anchor in Kiska in the Aleutians on 5 July 1942. This torpedo spread
also inflicted severe damage on two other destroyers Kasumi and Shiranuhi.
Two years later, Growler sank Shikinami in the South China
The destroyer Amagiri had a brush – or more accurately a collision --
with destiny on the night of 2 August 1943. While participating in the Japanese
re-supply effort dubbed "the Tokyo Express" by American combatants, Amagiri
rammed and sank the U.S. torpedo boat PT-109 commanded by LT John F.
Kennedy. Kennedy survived the encounter and the war to become U.S. President in
1961. Amagiri did not survive the war; she was sunk by a mine off
Borneo on 23 April 1944. 
Sixteen IJN submarines were scheduled to participate in the Midway operation.
I-164 was sunk en route by USS Triton. Of the remaining fifteen submarines
which actually participated in Midway, nine were sunk during the war. I-122
was sunk by the U.S. submarine Skate (SS-305) in the Sea of Japan on
10 June 1945. I-121, I-156, I-157, I-158, I-159, and I-162 survived
the war. 
The IJN's Midway Fleet After the War
Few ships of the IJN's Midway Fleet survived the Second World War. The
survivors consisted of a battleship, a light aircraft carrier, two cruisers, a
sunken cruiser that was re-floated, two destroyers, and six submarines. With
one exception, those fortunate few outlived their Midway colleagues by only a
few years at most.
Nagato was the only Japanese battleship to survive the war relatively
intact. She was used as a target ship during the U.S. atomic bomb tests at
Bikini atoll. Heavily damaged during Test Baker, she sank on 29 July 1946. 
Two of the three Japanese cruisers were too heavily damaged for any viable
post-war use. At war's end, Tone was resting in shallow water in Kure
Harbor, Japan, having been sunk by U.S. carrier aircraft in July 1945. She was
re-floated and towed to a dry-dock. In 1948, Tone was cut up for scrap. Myoko
was in Singapore when the Japanese surrendered. Her stern had been cut off
after being heavily damaged by a torpedo the previous December. Myoko was
scuttled by the Royal Navy in Malacca Strait on 8 August 1946. 
Several of the IJN ships that survived the war were utilized as repatriation
vessels to transport surrendered Japanese troops and civilians from various
parts of their former Empire back to the Home Islands. The cruiser Kitagami
was used as a repair ship for repatriation ships. On 21 September 1946, she was
transferred to the Japanese Home Ministry and scrapped at Nagasaki the
following year. The light carrier Hosho was also used for repatriation
service. On 31 August 1946, she was transferred to the Home Ministry and
scrapped at Osaka the following spring. The destroyer Yukaze also
served on repatriation duty. In 1947, she was turned over to the Royal Navy and
subsequently scrapped. 
The destroyer Yukikaze
proved to be a most resilient warship. She survived the sea battles in the
Solomon Islands that claimed many of her sister ships, U.S. air attacks during
the Battle of Bismarck Sea, the Battle of Leyte Gulf and Yamato's suicide run
against the U.S. fleet in April 1945. After the war, Yukikaze served
on repatriation duty until July 1947. Following this, Yukikaze was
transferred to the Chinese Navy and re-named Tan Yang. When the
Chinese Nationalist Government was forced to flee to Formosa (Taiwan) in 1949, Yukikaze
(Tan Yang) became part of the Nationalist naval forces. After thirty
years of service defending Taiwan, Yukikaze was scrapped in 1971. 
The U.S. Navy After Midway
The U.S. Navy's Midway force fared much better than their Japanese
counter-parts. Of the U.S. naval force at Midway, two carriers, four cruisers,
eight destroyers and six submarines were sunk during the war. 
Two of the U.S. Navy's three aircraft carriers survived the Battle of Midway.
Following Midway, they participated in the Solomon Islands campaign. At the
Battle of Santa Cruz on 25 October 1942, Enterprise and Hornet
took on a Japanese fleet consisting of four aircraft carriers, two battleships,
four cruisers and fourteen destroyers. Both U.S. carriers were hit. Enterprise
survived three bomb hits. Hornet was heavily damaged by several bombs and
torpedoes. U.S. destroyers attempted to scuttle her but a Japanese surface
force arrived before they were able to do so. Hornet was then sunk by
the Japanese. 
Enterprise went on to become one of the most distinguished American
warships in naval history. She was the first carrier to earn the Presidential
Unit Citation and also earned the Navy Unit Commendation. She survived sixteen
hits and near misses and also several kamikaze strikes. By war's end, her
aircraft had sunk 74 Japanese ships and damaged or probably sunk another 192
ships. Her aircraft and anti-aircraft batteries also shot down 911 Japanese
American cruisers suffered heavily after the Midway victory. By the end of
1942, four cruisers had been sunk and three more heavily damaged – all as a
result of surface actions in the Solomon Islands.
The heavy cruisers Vincennes (CA-44) and Astoria (CA-34) were
both sunk at the disastrous Battle of Savo Island on 8 August 1942. Vincennes
alone was struck by 57 naval shells and one torpedo. The heavy cruiser Northampton
(CA-26) was struck by torpedoes at the Battle of Tassafaronga on 30 November;
she sank the next day. At the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, the light cruiser Atlanta
(CL-51) helped sink the Japanese destroyer Akatsuki but then was
pummeled by naval gunfire and torpedoes. In the confusion and chaos, Atlanta
was hammered by salvoes mistakenly fired by another U.S. cruiser. One shell
struck her conning tower, killing Rear Admiral Norman Scott. An attempt to tow
her to safety failed and she was scuttled to prevent capture. 
New Orleans (CA-32) also fought at Tassafaronga. Early in the battle,
she sank a Japanese destroyer. Soon after, she was struck by a Japanese torpedo
between Turrets One and Two. The ensuing explosion blew off her bow forward of
Turret Two. Through skillful damage control and seamanship, she limped to
Tulagi Harbor for emergency repairs and then on to Australia. There a temporary
bow was installed and she sailed for the West Coast for reconstruction. New
Orleans returned to service in September 1943. In a surface engagement
off Truk Island on 13 February 1944, New Orleans helped sink a Katori-class
cruiser and a Shiguri -class destroyer. Then in October 1944, she sank
a light carrier and another destroyer. 
Another cruiser that fought at Tassafaronga was USS Minneapolis (CA-36). In
that battle, she sank a Japanese destroyer but was also struck by two
torpedoes. She was repaired and later supported the Marianas Island invasion.
Altogether, she fought in twenty-five actions, earning sixteen battle stars and
sinking four enemy ships. On 9 September 1945, she was flying the flag of
Admiral Thomas Kinkaid when he accepted the Japanese surrender of Korea. 
During World War
II, Portland (CA-33) fought in twenty-four major actions and earned
fifteen battle stars. At the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal on 12-13 November, Portland
sank two Japanese destroyers and damaged a heavy cruiser. She was also struck
by several torpedoes that knocked out two engines, her steering and her Number
Three Turret. After extensive repairs, Portland returned to service in
May 1943. She fought in numerous campaigns. On 2 September 1945, the commanders
of the Japanese garrison of Truk Island surrendered aboard Portland. During the
war, she sank two destroyers, assisted in sinking two battleships and two more
destroyers, and damaged another battleship, two cruisers, and shot down
twenty-two enemy aircraft. 
USS Pensacola (CA-24) was also heavily damaged at Tassafaronga. She
was repaired and returned to action. While covering minesweeping operations
prior to the Iwo Jima invasion, Pensacola was struck six times by
shore batteries, suffering 17 killed and 120 wounded. She later fought in the
Okinawa invasion. 
The U.S. Navy brought twenty destroyers to the Midway operation. Of these, one
was sunk at Midway, eight others were sunk later in the war and the remainder
survived the war.
USS Blue (DD-387) survived Midway by about three months. On 23 August
1942, Blue was struck by two Japanese torpedoes while in the Solomon
Islands. An attempt to tow her to safety was abandoned at the approach of a
Japanese task force and she was scuttled to prevent her capture.
USS Ralph Talbott (DD-390) survived Pearl Harbor, Midway and
ultimately the entire war. She fought in the sea battles around Guadalcanal,
took part in the Philippine invasion, fought at Iwo Jima and survived the
kamikaze-filled skies off Okinawa. Altogether, Ralph Talbott participated
in over 20 amphibious operations in the Pacific and shot down twenty Japanese
warplanes. She rescued survivors of the torpedoed cruiser USS Indianapolis
and was present for the Japanese surrender of Truk Island. 
USS Benham (DD-397) was one of many U.S. warships sunk in the
Solomons. On 14 November 1942, Benham was part of Rear Admiral Willis
Lee's Task Force 64 when it attempted to intercept Vice Admiral Kondo's
bombardment force off Savo Island. A torpedo took off fifteen feet of her bow
and flooded many of her forward compartments. Escorted by USS Gwin, Benham
was able to steam out of the battle area at 12 knots. On the afternoon of the
following day, her hull began to creak and groan. Her commanding officer – LCDR
John Taylor – ordered her abandoned. Not long after, the destroyer split in two
but both sections remained afloat. Gwin sank them with 5-inch shells.
After Midway, USS Monssen (DD-436) supported U.S. fleet operations in
the Solomons, including the amphibious assault on Guadalcanal. On 12 November
1942, she was hit by a Japanese bomb that damaged her fire control radar. That
night, she sailed with Task Group 67.4 to intercept Vice Admiral Hiroki Abe's
bombardment force off Savo Island. In the early hours of 13 November, Monssen
took on the battleship Hiei , inflicting several hits. Then she was
illuminated by searchlights and pummeled by 37 shells of various sizes. Damage
was extensive. Her bridge, engineering spaces, and gun mounts were all knocked
out. She drifted afire for several hours before her magazines exploded and she
USS Worden (DD-352) survived Pearl Harbor, Midway and the Solomon
Islands only to strike a submerged rock and be lost in the Aleutians. On 12
January 1943, Worden was covering the landing of U.S. troops on Amchitka Island
when she ran over a submerged rock that tore a huge gash in her hull. USS Dewey
attempted to tow her but the line snapped. Heavy seas drove her onto more
rocks. Heavy flooding ensued and she was abandoned. She broke in two and sank.
Fourteen of her crew were lost. That following August, her wreck re-emerged and
she was destroyed by explosives. 
USS Gwin (DD-433) attempted to save Yorktown but was unsuccessful.
During the 14-15 November 1942 Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, Gwin helped
sink the cruiser Nagara. She also sustained two hits on her forward
engine room and stern. She limped out of the battle, restored power and then
attempted to assist her stricken sister Benham. After Benham broke
up and sank, Gwin rescued the survivors. She was repaired at Mare
Island Shipyard in California and returned to the war. While covering the New
Georgia landing on 30 June 1943, Gwin was struck in the after engine
room by a 47mm shell from a coastal battery. Seven of her crew were killed.
Repaired again, she returned to action and rescued survivors of the torpedoed USS
Helena. As part of Rear Admiral W. L. Ainsworth's TF 36.1, she fought
to intercept a Japanese reinforcement flotilla at Kolombangara on 13 July 1943.
A Long Lance torpedo struck her amidships, killing everyone in her forward
engine room and after fire room. Ralph Talbott rescued her survivors
and then scuttled her with four torpedoes. 
USS Monaghan (DD-354) earned twelve battle stars during the war,
fighting at Pearl Harbor, Coral Sea, Midway, the Aleutians, the Kormandorski
Islands and Tarawa. On 18 December 1944, Monaghan succumbed to a
typhoon and sank with only six survivors. 
The three fleet oilers that supported the Midway operations all survived the
war. They played a vital role in supplying the fuel that sustained the U.S.
Navy's campaigns across the Pacific Theater. Cimarron was even present
in Tokyo Bay for the Japanese surrender. 
Though American submarines played a minor role during the Battle of Midway,
they contributed significantly to the U.S. victory in the Pacific. Cachalot
(SS-170), Cuttlefish (SS-171) and Dolphin (SS-169) were
withdrawn from active service several months later due to their age but were
retained for training. Trout (SS-202), Grayling (SS-209), Gudgeon
(SS-211), Trigger (SS-237), and Growler (SS-215) were lost at
sea. In April 1943, Grenadier (SS-210) was damaged by a Japanese air
attack and scuttled by her crew to prevent capture. Her crew was picked up by a
Japanese merchant ship and spent the remainder of the war as prisoners of war.
Miraculously all but four crew members survived captivity. In twelve war
patrols, Flying Fish (SS-229) sank 58,306 tons of Japanese shipping. Trigger
sank 86,552 tons of Japanese shipping. Trout sank the Japanese
submarine I-182 in the Philippines in September 1943. Nautilus
(SS-168) performed numerous reconnaissance missions and special operations. On
7 February 1943, Growler rammed a Japanese gunboat in a desperate
night surface action. Seriously wounded, her skipper Commander Howard Gilmore
ordered "Take her down," and sacrificed his own life for those of his submarine
and crew. He was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously. His submarine,
however, was later sunk by the Japanese in November 1944. 
The American Midway Fleet After the War
Most of the U.S. ships and submarines of the Midway force survived the war.
The only American carrier to survive the war was USS Enterprise. A
year and a half after the war ended, Enterprise was decommissioned and
tied up in mothballs in Bayonne, New Jersey. Efforts to preserve her as a
museum failed and the Navy sold her to Lippsett, Inc. of Kearney for scrap in
July 1958. Systematically, the scrappers took Enterprise apart and by
June 1960, she was gone. 
Four U.S. cruisers survived the war. Pensacola survived the Bikini
Atoll atomic bomb tests. Following post-blast assessments, she was scuttled
near Kwajalein atoll in November 1948. Minneapolis was decommissioned
in February 1947 and scrapped in July 1960. New Orleans was used to
bring Allied prisoners of war home from China. She was decommissioned in
February 1947 and sold for scrapping to the Boston Metals Company of Baltimore,
Maryland in September 1959. Portland was decommissioned in July 1946
and sold for scrapping to the Union Mineral and Alloys Corporation of New York
in October 1959. 
Twelve U.S. destroyers survived the war but not for long afterwards. By the end
of 1948, Aylwin, Balch, Clark, Dewey, Ellet, Maury, Morris, Phelps,
and Russell had all been sold for scrap. Anderson, Conyngham, Hughes
and Ralph Talbott were used in the Bikini atomic bomb tests. Anderson
was sunk during Test Able. The other three destroyers survived and were
scuttled afterwards. 
Thirteen U.S. submarines survived the war. After the war, eight of them -- Cachalot,
Cuttlefish, Dolphin, Pike, Plunger, and Tambor served as
either training ships or with the Naval Reserve. Grouper served as a training
ship and a floating laboratory and was the Navy's first hunter-killer
submarine. Tarpon was sunk as a target in August 1957 off Cape
Hatteras. The remaining submarines were all scrapped with Grouper being
the last one in the early 1970s. 
The post-war lives of the several auxiliary vessels that supported the Midway
operation were varied. The aviation fuel tanker Kaloli (AOG-13) and Ballard
(AVD-10) were sold for scrapping in 1946. Crystal (PY-25) was sold and
used as a passenger vessel / freighter in Central and South America for many
years. The tug Vireo (ATO-144) was transferred for disposal in
February 1947 but her subsequent fate is unknown. Thornton (AVD-11)
suffered a collision in April 1945 off the Rykukus Islands and was beached. All
salvageable material was removed and she was abandoned. In July 1957, the hulk
was donated to the government of the islands. 
The U.S. Navy ships that served the longest on active duty were the fleet
oilers that supported the Midway operations. Cimarron (AO-22), Platte
(AO-24) and Guadalupe (AO-32) all supported fleet operations during
the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Cimarron was sold for scrapping in 1969,
and Platte was sold for scrapping in 1971. Amazingly, Guadalupe
continued serving on active duty until 1974 and was sold for scrapping the
following year. 
Though USS Enterprise was scrapped in 1960, several pieces of her
still remain. Her bell is on display at the Naval Academy in Annapolis,
Maryland. One of her 15-foot tall anchors is on display at the Washington Navy
Yard. Engineer W. Henry Hoffman was responsible for salvaging a major piece of
her. While directing the scrapping of the famed carrier, Hoffman salvaged her
stern plate with her name emblazoned upon it. For years, the 16-foot long stern
plate was displayed at a Little League baseball field in River Vale, New
Jersey. Then in 2000, the stern plate was restored, and re-located to Veterans
Memorial Park in the same town. 
Upon the outcome of the Battle of Midway hinged the future course of the war in
the Pacific. Through a combination of courage, strategy and good fortune, the
U.S. Navy was able to turn the tables on the IJN and deal them a disastrous
defeat. Altogether, over 200 Japanese and U.S. warships and support vessels
fought in the battle. Today, none of the Midway ships remain afloat. Nearly all
of the IJN ships and twenty-one of the U.S. Navy ships were sunk during the
war. The remainder that survived the war were all scrapped or scuttled. Aside
from the hulks of deteriorating hulks on the ocean's floor, virtually all
traces of the Midway fleets are gone.
Show Footnotes and
. Nagumo quoted in Samuel Eliot Morison. Coral Sea, Midway and Submarine
Actions May 1942 – August 1942. vol. iv of History of United States Naval
Operations in World War II . (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1949),
. Morison, pp. 75-77.
. The Order of Battle for the U.S. and Japanese Fleets at Midway is taken
from Samuel Eliot Morison's Coral Sea, Midway and Submarine Actions May 1942 –
August 1942 . This is also the Order posted on the website for the
U.S. Naval Historical Center: www.history.navy.mil
. Morison, pp. 88-89.
. Morison, pp. 90-93.
. Morison, p. 82. The Battleship Task Force under Vice Admiral William S.
Pye based in San Francisco played no part in the Battle of Midway.
. For a more in-depth discussion of the Battle of Midway, I refer you to
Samuel Eliot Morison's Coral Sea, Midway and Submarine Actions May 1942 –
August 1942, and Gordon Prange's Miracle at Midway . ed. by
Donald M. Goldstein and Katherine V. Dillon. (NY: McGraw Hill, 1982). Also, the
U.S. Naval Historical Center has a large number of primary and secondary
sources for the battle on its website www.history.navy.mil
. U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey (Pacific). Naval Analysis Division. The
Campaigns of the Pacific War. (Washington, DC: GPO, 1946), p. 77.
Hereafter cited as "USSBS."; John J. Motley, LT (jg), USNR, and Philip R.
Kelly. Now Hear This! Histories of U.S. Ships in World War II.
(Washington, DC: Zenger Publishing, 1947), p. 35.; Robert Sinclair Parkin. Blood
on the Sea: American Destroyers Lost in World War II . (NY: Sarpedon,
1996), pp. 61-66.
. Ernest J. King, Fleet Admiral, USN. U.S. Navy at War 1941-1945. Official
Reports to the Secretary of the Navy by Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King, USN,
Commander in Chief US Fleet and Chief of Naval Operations.
(Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Navy and GPO, 1946.). See Appendix A
"Status of Major Combatants of Japanese Navy at the Conclusion of Hostilities."
Hereafter cited as "King – Appendix A."; Shizuo Fukui. Japanese Naval Vessels
at the End of World War II. Christian W. Beilstein, photo ed.
(Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute P, 1991). After the Japanese surrender, LCDR
Fukui of the IJN conducted a survey of IJN vessels for the U.S. occupation
forces. His report was submitted in April 1947 and is extremely valuable
because nearly all of the IJN war records were destroyed.; For Scamp sinking
of Kamikawa Maru see pp. 372-374 of Dictionary of American Naval
Fighting Ships . vol. 6. (Washington, DC: GPO, 1976) and Blair, p.
. King – Appendix A, p. 233.; USSBS, p. 127.; Fukui, pp. 1-2.; Clay Blair,
Jr. Silent Victory: The U.S. Submarine War Against Japan .
(Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1975), pp. 775-6.
. James F. Dunnigan and Albert A. Nofi. Victory at Sea: World War II in the
Pacific . (NY: William Morrow & Co., 1995), p. 100.
. King – Appendix A, p. 233.; Fukui, p. 15.; USSBS, p. 338
. King – Appendix A, p. 235.; Fukui, p. 2.; Blair, pp. 754-5.
. Blair, pp. 781-2.
. Fukui, pp. 3, 125.; King – Appendix A, p. 235.
. King – Appendix A, p. 237.; Blair, p. 685.; Fukui, p. 6.
. These statistics were compiled from the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey,
Appendix A of Fleet Admiral King's report, and Fukui's Japanese Naval Vessels
at the End of World War II .
. USSBS, p. 144.; King – Appendix A, pp. 240-1.; USSBS, pp. 146, 169.; King
– Appendix A, p. 237.
. USSBS, pp. 92-93.; Fukui, pp. 15-16.; Blair, pp. 270, 345, 637, 708.;
King – Appendix A, pp. 237-40.
. See Fukui, p. 16 for the destroyer's sinking. See Robert J. Donovan's
"PT-109" on pages 461-475 of S. E. Smith's The United States Navy in World War
II . (NY: William Morrow & Co., 1966).
. King – Appendix A, p. 247.; Blair, p. 863.
. Fukui, p. 120.
. Fukui, pp. 3, 124, 125.
. Fukui, pp. 6, 10. 17, 143.
. Fukui, p. 15.; Additional information provided by the U.S. Navy
Historical Center website. See
. Much of the information in this section and the subsequent one was
provided by Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships . Washington,
DC: Navy Department – Naval Historical Center, 1959-1991. The Naval Historical
Center has an online edition at http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/index.html .
Where this source has been utilized, it will be noted with the citation DANFS.
. Motley, pp. 25-30, 37-40.
. Motley, pp. 25-30.
. Motley, pp. 91-2, 107-8, 119,20.; See entries in DANFS for these ships.
. Motley, pp. 87-8.; DANFS.; Chaplain Howell M. Forgy, CHC, USN. …And Pass
the Ammunition. Ed. By Jack S. McDowell. (NY: Appleton – Century Co.,
1944). Chaplain Forgy was chaplain aboard USS New Orleans and spoke
the famous line "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition" during the Pearl
Harbor attack. In his memoirs, he provides a detailed description of New
Orleans service in the early years of the war.
. Motley, pp. 93-95.; DANFS.
. Motley, pp. 89-91.; DANFS.
. Motley, pp. 130-1.
. Motley, pp. 132-3.
. Parkin, pp. 123-6.; Motley, pp. 133-4.
. Motley, pp. 139-40.; Parkin, pp. 108-110.
. Parkin, pp. 123-6.
. Parkin, pp. 147-51.
. Parkin, pp. 274-9.
. Motley, pp. 196-7.; DANFS.
. Blair, pp. 321, 373-5, 395-7, 520, 595, 783, 990.; DANFS.
. "The 'Big E' Dies With Her Boots On." Popular Mechanics. May
1960. This article is posted on the website of the Enterprise CV-6
. DANFS. Additional information provided by
. For more details on this, visit www.cv6.org
Copyright © 2006 Bryan J. Dickerson.
Written by Bryan Dickerson. If you have questions or comments on this article,
please contact Bryan Dickerson at:
About the author:
Bryan J. Dickerson is a military historian specializing in World War Two and a Navy Reserve veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
He earned a Masters of Arts in American History from Monmouth University in New Jersey in 1999. He is the former Editor of Cold War Times -
the online newsletter of the Cold War Museum in Virginia.
Published online: 11/19/2006.
* Views expressed by contributors are their own and do not necessarily represent
those of MHO.