usf2.gif (10730 bytes) USS SIGSBEE  usf2.gif (10730 bytes)

The above painting by Naval artist Peter Hsu (copyright authorized) shows the 502 under air attack 4/14/45





From: The Commanding Officer

To: The Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet

Via: (1) Commander Battleship Division Two.  (2) Commander Task Force 53.  (3) Commander in Chef, U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Subject: Action Report, Bombardment of Betio, Tarawa, Gilbert Islands 22 and 23 November 1943.

22 November

2120  U.S.S. SIGSBEE in screen patrolling off Betio Island, ordered as fire support unit to bombard Betio Island, ship went to general quarters. Wind East, Force 2, Sea from East, Condition 1.

2125  Approaching Betio Island, Eastern tip, taking position near U.S.S. SCHROEDER. 

2125  Navigator in CIC determined current to be from 280 degrees T, 2 knots.

2128 On station for shore bombardment in area KG 23: U.S.S. SCHROEDER underway released from further fire support duty.

2135  Current allowed for in computer introducing it as target course 100 degrees T, target speed 2 knots.

2200  Set Condition 1-E throughout the ship.

2355 All batteries alerted preparing to fire at Eastern tip of Betio Island, Observed 3 white phosphorus shells fired by artillery to designate the desired point of aim.

2358  On target, range set, computer tracking, stable element controlling in elevation, director controlling in train, radar established range checked by navigational plot, salvo master key fire, salvo interval as announced, spots applied as received from SFC party, fuses in manual and on safe, spots received via 21FC and JW phones in director as relayed by communication officer on bridge.

2400  Ranging shots commenced, 1 gun salvos, Fired 1st salvo, Spot received, no change, left 100.

0005  2nd Salvo, No change, left 200.

0010  3rd Salvo, No change, no change.

0015  Standing by for firing mission.

0020  Applied spot, no change, right 200, cut fuses so bursts would be 10 yards in air.  Commenced firing 1 gun salvos, 4th salvo, No change, right 200.

0024  5th salvo, No change, no change.

0026  6th salvo. No change, no change.

0028  5 gun salvos, 4 salvos per minute for 1 minute. 7th through 10th salvos. Down 100, no change. All air bursts.

0030 to 0051 44 total salvos.

0056  Reported 1080 AA common, MK. 18 fuse, available, 195 rounds expended thus far.

0058  Standing easy, Condition 1-E on all batteries.

0059  Expect fire mission in 20 minutes.

0115  No change, no change.  Commenced firing 1 gun salvo, 45th salvo.  Down 50, no change.

0116  4 salvos per minute for 1 minute, 47th through 50th salvo. Down 100, no change.

0120  5 gun salvo, 51st salvo.  No change, no change, lower bursts 5 yards.

0123 to 0124 5 gun salvos, 52nd and 53rd salvo.

0125  4 salvos per minute for 1 minute, 54th through 57th salvos.  Started large fire in ammunition dump. Died out quickly.

0127  SFC (Shore Fire Control Party) reported "excellent effect, stay on same target".

0128 to 0138 58th salvo to 63rd salvo.

0145  5 gun salvo, 64th salvo.  No change, no change, Large fire started again, probably ammunition

0147  4 salvos per minute for 1 minute, 65th through 68th salvos.  Another fire probably the same dump, flared again repeatedly.  Down 100, no change.

0150   2 salvos, no specified interval.  SFC party again reported, fire has "excellent effect". 69th salvo.

0151 to 0152 70th and 71st salvos. Unloaded two loaded guns at beach.

0153  Well done.  Advised no naval gun fire required for several hours.  Set condition II.  Maintained listening watch on SFC circuit.  Prepared to open fire at dawn on Eastern tip of Betio Island.

23 November

0745  On station at KG23, prepare fire on areas 210 and 211.  Ship at general quarters.  Navigational plot determining current .

0853  Prepared to fire on Eastern tip of Betio Island areas 201, 202, 203.  Wind East, Force 1. Sea flat calm, no swells.

0855  Commenced 3 minutes firing on Betio, fuses on safe, stable element controlling in elevation director controlling in train, radar established range, current set as target course and speed, 100 degrees T, 1.5 knots, computer tracking, salvo master key fire, salvo interval as called for, spot in deflection to cover area by control officer, spots in range by rangefinder operator. 5 gun salvos 1 through 9.

0857  Cease firing. 

0859  Fire was reported effective by SFC.  Assumed standby condition awaiting further call.

1345  Released from fire support duty.


1.  Call fire proved to be simple to execute.  The shore fire control party has the burden of making fire effective.  The ship need only obey orders.

2.  The shore fire control party, as in this case, should make every effort to keep the ship abreast of the situation so far as the necessity for shore bombardment is concerned.  This permits relaxing of the battery, instead of imposing long hours of needless alertness on the ships' company.

3.  The use of artillery fire on the beach to indicate the point of aim to the naval unit concerned is excellent.  It almost eliminates the deflection problem and speeds up the entire firing procedure.  The limitations of this method are readily apparent.


1.  This vessel lay to about 2 miles off the reef South of Betio during these call fires.  This procedure was followed on advice of previous firing unit and Shore Fire Control Party.  However, had enemy submarines been in the immediate vicinity, a ship lying to in this manner, firing intermittently and thereby disclosing its position, would have been a "sitting duck" target for a submarine.  Undoubtedly, lying to facilitates the delivery of prompt call fires.  Therefore, it is recommended  that in future operations wherein the limitations of the screen permit, the transport screen be extended to furnish anti-submarine protection to such call-fire ships.

2.  It is noted that fire support usually is demanded in salvos, with salvo intervals artificially lengthened.  This method is considered most practical for "neutralization fire".  However, if "destructive fire" is desired, doctrine should prescribe that after the correct ballistic has been established by the Shore Fire Control Party by means of spots, the ship will be most effective if rapid continuous fire is delivered before the solution has a chance to drift off due to effects of current and own ships movement.  The effect of wind on destroyers is considerable and variable and can not practicably be introduced in the computer as artificial  target speed.  Therefore, when you are hitting, you should be "pouring it on".

3.  During morning call fires, this ship was controlling Fighter Director.  It was gratifying to find that our minuscule Combat Communications Center was capable of absorbing both problems simultaneously.  No enemy raids came in during the call fires.  Limitations of radio equipment forced the use of our TBL (only medium frequency voice transmitter allowed) on SFC circuit, leaving no voice transmitter on the secondary FDD.

4.  The conduct of the officers and crew of this vessel during this action left nothing to be desired.

                                                                                                            B. V. Russell, Commanding Officer


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