305 South River Road
Baton Rouge, LA 70802
As a child, I can remember taking a class field trip to Baton Rouge and visiting a battleship. We were young kids, having no knowledge about what we were seeing. We just knew it looked cool because “it had guns on it!” It wasn’t until years later when I learned how historically important this ship was, not only as an valuable fixture for the state, but for its great services it offered to the United States military.
The U.S.S. Kidd is a Fletcher-class destroyer named after Rear Admiral Isaac Campbell Kidd, Sr., who was killed during the attack at Pearl Harbor. This ship, identified as DD-661, as it was the Navy’s six hundred and sixty-first destroyer built, was officially christened and launched on February 28, 1943. From here on, the U.S.S. Kidd began its colorful journey through the open seas.
Its first excursion was to simply be delivered to the Brooklyn Naval Shipyards. In an unconventional fashion, the Kidd arrived proudly flying the skull and crossbones flag high atop its mast. One can only imagine how odd it must have been to see a U.S. Naval ship flying the flag of the Jolly Roger. However, the uniqueness turned into tradition, as the flag became a regular fixture to the ship. What is most interesting is that after receiving approval by the appropriate officials, the ship's crew painted a pirate on their smokestack. To this day, the Kidd, known as the “Pirate of the Pacific” is the only U.S. battleship to ever be granted permission to fly the flag that represents piracy.
The fun had been had and now it was time for the U.S.S. Kidd to showcase what it was truly designed for. The ship was commissioned on April 23, 1943 and its first duties were to escort new carriers from Norfolk to Trinidad. By August of that year, the Kidd continued its escorts into Pearl Harbor.
For the next several months to follow, the battleship continued along with its duties of providing escorts, rescuing downed pilots and providing anti-aircraft defense. In one particular rescue, the Kidd fought off eight Japanese bombers while simultaneously bringing two downed pilots to safety and not receiving any damage. It appeared that the U.S.S. Kidd must have had a four leaf clover jammed up its stern, as it would continue its various missions without any damage to the ship or injury to its crew. Of course, this rare luck would not last forever.
On April 11, 1945, the Kidd was assisting fellow ships: the U.S.S. Black, Chauncey, and
|Damage sustained by the USS Kidd's bow|
Fortunately, even with additional enemy planes convening to the damaged Kidd as a shark frenzies over the presence of blood, the accompanying battleships provided coverage to allow the winged pirate to retreat to safety. Slowly but surely, the Kidd made its way to the Caroline Island, reaching Ulithi, only after burying its dead at sea along the way.
|Bunks in the USS Kidd|
Now, to steer this ship (no pun intended) back on track, an interesting history along with haunted tales of the U.S.S. Kidd continues to attract tourists on a regular basis. The U.S.S. Kidd even offers overnight stays in the actual bunkrooms so you can try your luck at your own ghostly experience inside the famed Pirate of the Pacific. If you would like more information or would like to make overnight reservations, please visit www.usskidd.com