The USS Anderson (DD-411) was a Sims-class destroyer. Destroyers come in different “flavors” but the design goals are generally to be fast, maneuverable, long-endurance warships designed to escort larger ships such as aircraft carriers, battleships, etc.
There were only 12 Sims-class destroyer built with the first ship laid down in 1937 and the last one commissioned in 1940. They were the last destroyers built prior to the US entry into WW II. The Sims-class destroyers saw significant action in WW II and five of the twelve were lost in the war (4 by Japanese and 1 by Germans).
The USS Anderson was laid down on 15 Nov 1937 in New Jersey and launched on 4 Feb 1939. She was actually the first Sims-class destroyer delivered to the Navy and was way overweight (150 tons) and really top heavy. In order to reduce weight, they redesigned the entire class of ship and removed one 5-inch gun along with a quad torpedo tube.
Below are some pictures of the USS Anderson from Navsource. Two of the photos show the Anderson with depth charges and torpedos right before the tests at Bikini Atoll.
The Anderson spent her initial months on the East Coast of the US during shakedown drills and hosting various dignitaries and officers. She then stopped at Guantanamo Bay on the way to the submarine base at Coco Solo near the Panama Canal. She went throw the Panama Canal and made her way up the coast of South America and Mexico to San Diego where she assisted in various duties. She then went to Hawaii and operated out of Pearl Harbor for five months in 1940 and then headed back to San Diego and then to San Pedro in December for an overhaul.
She spent the first part of 1941 on various patrols and exercises on the West Coast before being reassigned to the Atlantic and reversing her original course through the Panama Canal. She took place in the Atlantic Neutrality Patrols in 1941 before being assigned to Task Force 15. After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, Anderson left Europe and got back to Norfolk, Virginia and then on the Charleston where she underwent repairs and had her .50-caliber machine guns replace with 20mm antiaircraft guns.
In early 1942, the Anderson once again transited through the Panama Canal bout for San Diego and then San Francisco. She then left with a convoy for Hawaii and joined up with Task Force 17 under the command of Rear Admiral Fletcher. She would remain in the Pacific for the rest of her career.
She served in almost every major battle in the Pacific during WW II. She had a pretty impressive service record. Here are a few highlights:
- Protected the Yorktown (CV-5) in the South Pacific in Mar/Apr 1942
- Screened the Lexington (CV-2) during the Battle of the Coral Sea in May 1942
- Protected the Yorktown (CV-5) during the Battle of Midway in June 1942
- Accompanied the Hornet (CV-8) in Guadalcanal and the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands in Oct 1942
- Supported the invasion of the Gilbert Islands in Nov 1943
- Supported the invasion of the Marshall Islands in early 1944
- Participated in the bombarding of Wotje
- Supported the landings at Morotai and Leyte
During this time, she survived multiple attacks by Japanese airplanes including being hit by a Japanese kamikaze in November 1944. She received 10 battle stars.
She was sank during Operation Able.
The bomb was off-target and ended up hitting closer to the Anderson and sinking her. In the diagram below, the original target was Ship 32 (in red, the USS Nevada) but the bomb hit 700 yards away close to the Attack Transport ship USS Gilliam. Five ships were sank during the Able test (which was a big disappointment). If it had hit on-target, it is likely that many more would have sank given the cluster of ships around Ship 32.
The Anderson is Ship 1 in the diagram below.
Diving the Wreck
The wreck is pretty intact and sits on her port side. The highlights of the dive include the propellers and then proceeding along the deck toward the bow, there are two 5″ guns, the bridge, two sets of 4 x torpedo launchers, anti-aircraft guns and a lot of other interesting artifacts. The bow itself is razor sharp.
The down line was on the starboard prop and the “normal” route is to look at the prop, move around the stern and then follow the deck to the bow and then loop back. The wreck is 350 feet long and has a beam of 36 feet so there is a LOT to cover. I didn’t think we would have a second dive, so I swam at a pretty good pace to make sure I saw the whole wreck.
I had two main challenges when shooting photos for this wreck. One was self-imposed and the other was the environment.
I generally use a 28-60 zoom lens with a “wet lens” that turns it into a wide angle view which is 130 degrees at 28mm. Wide angle helps on wrecks to get more of the wreck into a single frame and provides context. It also allows you to get closer to the subject so there is less water in between which means less particulates and also less distance for the flash to illuminate the subject. None of that works when the zoom is set to 41mm instead of 28mm. I noticed that I had to get really far way to get anything in frame but ignored it to my detriment.
It also didn’t help that we had very little natural light AND there was a TON of particulate “crap” in the water.