Bombardment of Nauru

Sea Stories

“On December 8, 1943, we participated in what I would describe as an unusual island bombardment. The island was a small speck on the map, Nauru. It was lightly defended and contained a phosphate operation.

Six modern battleships, the WashingtonNorth CarolinaIndianaMassachusettsSouth Dakota, and Alabama let fly at 0700 with a 54 gun 16-inch salvo that smothered the island in explosions. The opening salvo was from about 30,000 yards and we continued to fire as we closed range until 0740, at which time we ceased fire and proceeded to join our carriers that were standing off some miles.

I was always puzzled by the significance of this action because of the small strategic importance of this island relative to the many other targets of opportunity that seemed to be available. My thought was that this was more of an exercise to determine how well the new and fast battleships could function together as a team. It seemed we did pretty well at the expense of the Naura islanders.”



“Japanese forces were known to have fortified Nauru and to have used it as an air base for both offensive strikes and scouting missions. The two landing strips on the island had been bombed by friendly Task Forces during recent weeks….

Information of locations and descriptions of enemy gun positions, target areas, beach defenses, utilities, landing fields, revetment areas, radio stations, and radar positions were given in secret dispatches, charts and information bulletins. Heavy ships were supplied relief maps of the area. The wealth of information on enemy positions proved extremely valuable and made possible effective bombardment.”


Action Report, December 17, 1943

“You can convey a message to whoever is shooting now is way short. There is a Betty flying around here someplace. I see him every once in a while. The last three cans are firing. There seems to be a formation on the other side of the island of about 40 planes. The dive bombers are attacking now.”


Spotting Plane Log, 1935 to 1945 Greenwich Civil Time (GCT)

“We bombarded the island of Nauru – this being the first American battleship to bomb a Japanese held territory. Breakfast was at four in the morning, which was our battle breakfast of steak and eggs. Our long march to Tokyo Bay had begun.”

-Fred Velletri, Coxswain