USS OLDENDORF is named after Admiral Jesse B. Oldendorf, one of the most distinguished surface warfare flag officers to serve during World War II.

     A native Californian, Admiral Oldendorf was catapulted to fame due to his overwhelming victory at the Battle of Surigao Strait on 24-25 October 1944. Surigao Strait was one of a series of battles that took place in the aftermath of General Douglas MacArthur's return to the Philippines in 1944. History books have referred to these various naval engagements as the Battle of Leyte Gulf. In response to the American amphibious landing at Leyte Gulf, the Imperial Japanese Navy mounted a massive counterattack, seeking to reverse the course of the Pacific war. Their objective was the huge collection of amphibious ships and transports anchored in Leyte Gulf. One of their counterattacks involved a Japanese force of two battleships, three cruisers and eight destroyers whose mission was to pass through Surigao Strait at night and surprise the American shipping in Leyte Gulf.

     "In the unearthly silence that followed the roar of Oldendorf's 14" and 16" guns in Surigao Strait, one could imagine the ghosts of all great admirals, standing at attention to salute the passing of a kind of naval warfare they all understood. For in the opening minutes of 25 October 1944, the Battle Line became as obsolete as the row-galley tactics of centuries before."

Rear Adm. Samuel Eliot Morison

     Alerted by aerial reconnaissance, Admiral Oldendorf deployed his forces of old battleships, cruisers, destroyers, and PT boats at the point of exit from Surigao Strait. Ironically, five of his six battleships were survivors of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. These veterans had been salvaged and refitted and were anxious for a chance to even the score. "Even it" they did! In the nighttime darkness, the Japanese force was attacked first by the PT boats and destroyers, and then as the range closed, by heavy gunfire from the cruisers and battleships crossing back and forth at the head of Surigao Strait. Passing ahead of the enemy column in the classic "crossing the T" maneuver, Admiral Oldendorf's Pearl Harbor veterans rained heavy projectiles on the hapless enemy.

     Only one Japanese cruiser and one destroyer survived the carefully planned attack. None of the U.S. vessels were sunk or even seriously damaged. The tactical disposition and the battle plan of Admiral Oldendorf was perfect!

     Although no one knew it at the time, this was to be the last time in which battleships would engage each other in a classic surface to surface battle line-action.

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