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Through the Spy Glass: USS Black, Independence, South Carolina

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A trio of American ships is making an appearance under the spotlight in the latest installment of the Through the Spy Glass section of our blog. Meet Black, Independence, and South Carolina!

USS Black: American Tier VII Premium destroyer

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One of the co-stars of the Lucky Six current campaign, USS Black was a Fletcher-class destroyer commissioned in 1943. She was named after Lieutenant Commander Black, captain of USS Jacob Jones, who was KIA a year before. The building of the ship was sponsored by his widow, Mrs. H. D. Black.

Ship's career ended up being a long one, and it was nothing short of remarkable. USS Black participated in various operations in the Pacific naval theater of WWII from 1943 through 1945. These included the Battle of Saipan, capture of Guam, Battle of Leyte, and Okinawa operation. During the latter, Black operated as a part of the Fast Carrier Task Force (then TF 58) together with USS Independence—read on to learn more about her! Black earned six battle stars for her actions in WWII, and got two more during the Korean war. The latter conflict wasn’t the only war in the second half of the 20th century she participated in—the ship was deployed during the Vietnam War, too. Decommissioned in 1969, the destroyer was sold for scrap in 1971. 

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What better Commander is there to helm Tier VII Black than Arleigh Burke? This admiral of the U.S. Navy served on Fletcher-class destroyers throughout World War II, and his skillset says everything about his sailing proficiency. His Sureshot base trait will improve your main battery shell grouping, making sure your array of 5-inch (127 mm) guns hits its target as often as possible.
Inspirations are always debatable, so we leave that choice to you. For the rest, let's select the following:

  • Contact Is Imminent to compensate for the very slow speed of Black's torpedoes.
  • Look at Me Now, since concealment is often prioritized for destroyer Captains.
  • Perceptive to reduce incoming damage when brawling with other destroyers and to make sure you know where the closest enemy is at all times.
  • Sidestep for main battery gun range and increased incoming fire dispersion.
  • Unstoppable—a must-have for destroyers in order to keep moving even when your engine or steering are incapacitated.

Black, to put it simply, is a Fletcher in essence. A high rate of fire, relatively good speed, long-duration smoke screen, and solid AA defenses—you name it! However, Black brings something completely new to the U.S Navy destroyer department—the ability to use Radar and Smoke at the same time. A short duration, 7.5 km-range Radar can come in place of Engine Boost (meaning you'll have the choice to equip one or the other), allowing this destroyer to actively hunt down the competition or give its team valuable information if terrain or smoke is in the way. To compensate for this uncanny advantage, Black boasts even more unique torpedo armament—her torpedoes travel at only 43 knots, so they are some of the slowest in the game. However, don't let that fool you, these piranhas strike as hard as they are to detect. In terms of core gameplay, your focus is to contest Key Areas then search for, ward off, and eliminate enemy destroyers. Sinking capital ships can be attempted, but keep in mind that fast-moving battleships will be extremely hard to hit. Use your torpedoes as an "area denial" tool, spot enemy cruisers for your team, and open fire from the safety of smoke or terrain cover to inflict pressuring damage to high-value enemy targets.

USS Independence: American Tier V Premium aircraft carrier

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Converted from the hull of a Cleveland-class cruiser-to-be, Independence saw a lot of action throughout her career. The flattop conducted airstrikes and supported landings all over the Pacific and South-East Asia, and she later operated within the Fast Carrier Strike Force off the Philippines and Okinawa. One of the most notable events she took part in was the sinking of Yamato's sistership, Musashi. Independence ended her service as a target for atomic bomb testing in 1946, and she even survived the initial strike just to be sunk by torpedoes later. 

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Ernest King comes as your dedicated USN carrier Commander, offering everything you need to optimize the performance of the Tier V Independence. His “I Come Prepared” base trait will boost the range of your AA guns and make sure the enemy CV isn't too tempted to strike you early on. Suggested skill picks look as follows:

  • Swatting at Flies, increasing personal AA defenses.
  • Emergency Power to zoom in and out of attack runs with minimum damage to your squadrons.
  • Hidden Threat to make your attacks sneakier.
  • “Burn, Baby, Burn!” for that extra HE bomb performance.
  • Death From Above to increase the effectiveness of your HE dive bombers.

Independence, along with Tier VII Saipan currently residing in the Bureau (expect a standalone article on her and Des Moines later this update), is another fresh entry for a U.S. Navy Premium carrier. The ship boasts good speed and signature powerful HE dive bombers (Douglas TBD Devastators), but her concealment and plating are not as good as those of her same-tier competition. Independence's torpedo bombers (Curtiss SB2C Helldivers) can only drop two torpedoes that deal medium damage, but they're fairly fast and have a good restoration time. Independence won't be your heavy damage dealer, and her rather fragile planes will have to pick their targets carefully, but her ability to reposition quickly on the map will allow you to bring air support wherever it's needed.

USS South Carolina: American Tier III Premium battleship

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South Carolina was the first dreadnought of the U.S. Navy. Due to her limited dimensions, the ship carried relatively weak armament and was slow. Battleships of her class were the first to receive superfiring turrets, and these allowed her to fire a full broadside with all main battery guns. A total of eight 12-inch (305 mm) guns were a good reason to do that! To get her, complete the Dum Spiro Spero free mission before the end of July 25. You can find it in the Store from June 23 until July 18. 

South Carolina was commissioned in 1910, and her career turned out to be pretty eventful—from training midshipmen for the U.S. Naval Academy and naval militia to participating in various military-related action across the Caribbean. She didn't dodge WWI, either—her most notable actions include accompanying convoys to France and transferring more than 4,000 American troops back home from Europe when the Great War came to an end. Her career ended due to the limitations of the Washington Naval Treaty, and the battleship was broken up for scrap. 

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We like to think of Willis Lee as a sure pick for South Carolina. His Don't Let It Spill base trait will help you survive close encounters with enemy destroyers.
Inspirations are subjective, so let's jump right into the rest of our suggested build:

  • Brawler to reduce the reload time of your main battery. At Tier III, range is not that big of a concern to worry about this skill's debuff.
  • Crisscross to keep your sights on target, even when maneuvering.
  • Firefighter, since cruisers at this tier are prone to starting fires.
  • Master Mechanic to enhance your ability to repair damage at sea.
  • Fight Fire With Fire because let's be honest, burning is never fun when playing battleships.

South Carolina doesn’t bring the most guns, speed, or HP to the battle, but this dreadnought can still pack a punch. Her main armament is fairly accurate and superfiring, which is not a common trait at her tier. Due to her rather small size, she handles pretty well, but beware—South Carolina's citadel is above the waterline, so exposing your side will result in unwanted HP depletion. It’s a good idea to equip Artillery Plotting Room mod. 2, which further increases her main battery accuracy. In terms of gameplay, your (very) slow speed won't allow you to chase your targets, so let the fight come to you. In the meantime, make sure that any ships pushing a bit too close suffer from your salvoes with pin-point accuracy as the main deterrent.

Pick your favorite American ship, and turn the tide!


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