USS Southerland Sinking Details
Sunk as a target ship on August 02, 1997. Location: 34 deg 57' North 123 deg 08' West. Depth Approx 13,200 ft.
The following letter from Rick Anderson requesting sinking details
Dear Commander Strausser;
I am writing this letter to you in hopes that I may obtain some information concerning a test conducted on 2 August 1997. On 2 August1997, the USS Elliot fired a Penguin missile that expended the USS Southerland (DD743). I am an ex-crew member of the USS Southerland. I am involved with doing the history of the ship and would appreciate any permissible information and pictures of the old girl going down.
This is the final chapter of the ship and I think you can agree what this would mean to her crews that date back as far as 1944. We have a reunion this October and I would really appreciate any thing you can send. I have enclosed my address below if any information can be sent.
Sincerely and happy sailing, Richard L. Anderson
The following response was received:
Richard, I'm not Captain Strausser, but I can give you some insight on the events of SOUTHERLAND's last day. Please keep in mind that much of the info has not yet been cleared for public release, but I'll give you the nuts and bolts of what happened. SOUTHERLAND was designated as the test ship for what was the first live warhead firing of a Penguin anti-ship cruise missile from a helicopter. ELLIOT herself did not launch the missile. An SH60 Seahawk LAMPS III helicopter from Helicopter Anti/Submarine Squadron (HSL) FORTY THREE Detachment ONE ("Battlecats") was embarked in LISS ELLIOT for the SINKEX (this is an actual term), which took place off the coast of central California.
SOUTHERLAND was staged in the exercise area with hatches and doors opened and heaters were set up so she would have a heat signature to attract the infrared homer of the Penguin missile. The following ordnance was fired at SOUTHERLAND: One Penguin missile from HSL/43 Det. 1 helicopter,One partially defueled Harpoon missile, several Walleye glide bombs, Mk 82 and Mk 84 iron bombs, and 20mm ammo from North Island, Californiabased S3 Viking aircraft. I was in ELLIOT's Combat Information Center during the exercise and I have to tell you that I was really impressed with SOUTHERLAND.
For a ship commissioned in Dec. 1944, she put up one heck of a fight! She finally went down (exact time was 13:49:30 Pacific Standard Time on 2 August 1997), but certainly not without a fight. It could safely be said that SOUTHERLAND had the last word.