Friday, March 18, 2016

These Ladies Pack a Punch!

USS Missouri (BB-63) overlooks USS Arizona (BB-39). (Source)
In my post the other day on the Japanese battleship Yamato, loyal reader Cap'n Steve left a comment regarding the fighting power of an Iowa Class battleship versus that of the Yamato Class. Now the good captain opined that in a battle, an Iowa Class ship would have been more than a match for the Yamato Class. Now as the good captain is indeed a retired United States Navy Surface Warfare Officer, I accept his opinion as being near gospel. After all, those guys study those kind of things dontcha know?

Anyhoo, that comment reminded me of my own encounters with the mighty Iowa Class battleships.

There were four ships of this class that were actually commissioned: USS Iowa (BB-61), USS New Jersey (BB-62), USS Missouri (BB-63) and USS Wisconsin (BB-64). Two more were planned and laid down but never completed: USS Illinois (BB-65) and USS Kentucky (BB-66). Of the four I've seen three of them. Iowa, New Jersey and Wisconsin, which loyal reader Scott the Badger always calls the "Badger Boat." That's a Wisconsin thing I gather.

Iowa fires her main armament at coastal positions during her 1952 Korean deployment. (Source)
Iowa was the first of these mighty warships I ever saw, back in 1999 when we had taken up residence here in Little Rhody. Iowa used to be tied up to a pier at Naval Station Newport, she was parked right next door to USS Saratoga (CV-60) and USS Forrestal (CV-59).

Now I knew just how big a modern battleship was because I had walked the decks of the mighty USS Alabama (BB-60, last of the South Dakota Class) when we were down yonder in Mississippi back in the summer of 1987. (Yes, it was freaking hot and humid, thank you for asking. This old Yankee eventually got used to it, still don't care for that kind of heat though, but I digress.)

We were driving down to the base for the first time for to go a shopping at the Navy Exchange and the Commissary, we popped over the hill fast by the Naval Undersea Warfare Center and there those three gray ladies lay, at first I didn't realize that there was a battleship there, she was dwarfed by those two aircraft carriers. But as we drew near (and I had stopped drooling) I beheld those big 16 inch rifles in the aft turret and realized that there indeed was a battleship, by her hull number (61) I realized that she was indeed the Iowa.

So I used to see her often until they towed her out to L.A. Now I first saw the New Jersey while flying into the airport in Philadelphia. There she was, tied up in the Delaware River. I thought that odd as we were flying into Pennsylvania. After I pulled my head "out" (so to speak) it struck me that the Delaware River runs between two states. Pennsylvania and, you guessed it, New Jersey. Makes perfect sense to park the old girl there. I mean there's the big city venue of Philly right there across the river. (Also worthy of note, we flew over an aircraft carrier which was at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, CV-67, USS John F. Kennedy whose decks The WSO has trod as a midshipman and from which I have a ball cap.)

New Jersey bombarding positions off South Vietnam during the latter part of her 1968-69 WESTPAC cruise. (Source)
USS Wisconsin is docked in downtown Norfolk, Virginia. The first time I saw her was when we flew down for the commissioning of the USS Nitze, The Naviguesser's last assignment in the Navy. (Where he was, drum roll please, the ship's naviguesser, er, navigator.) We were staying in a hotel just down the street from the Badger Boat. (A street packed with drunken revelers at night. DAMHIK)

Wisconsin fires a Tomahawk missile during her 1991 deployment to the Persian Gulf. (Source)
Which means that the only ship of this class which I have never seen is the Mighty Mo, the USS Missouri. She of the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay, the ship now moored not far from the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor. Why haven't I seen her? Just never had the opportunity but mark my words, someday I will get out that way again (I went through Hickam some hundreds of years ago while flying back to Okinawa, with about twenty bucks in my pocket and a requirement to stay in the Military Airlift Command terminal so that Uncle Sam might once again keep me gainfully employed at Kadena AB. I was returning from emergency leave you see, I was a young airman you see and, okay, you get the point...)

So I haven't seen the Missouri yet, oddly enough though I do have a ball cap and a polo shirt embroidered with the words USS Missouri, a different Missouri.

Huh?

This one...
The U.S. Navy Virginia-class attack submarine USS Missouri (SSN-780) arrives at Naval Submarine Base New London, Groton, Connecticut after completing its maiden six-month deployment to the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility. Note the crewman in a Santa Claus-costume on deck. (Source)
This boat has a really awesome patch.


Pretty cool, neh? The old and the new. Nice tribute I thought.

Seeing as how it's Friday, I figured a video was in order. Featuring the Mighty Mo.



Enjoy!



44 comments:

  1. Philly shipyard had the Wisconsin for part of the reactivation work. Awesome as she was built here, and came home so to speak. During her time in drydock I took the opportunity to walk under her. Pretty cool to have all that metal over you and it is being held up by wood blocks atop concrete.
    I got a chance to go on sea trials when she left the yard and steamed down to Norfolk.
    And yes, I do work the statement, "When I was at sea on the Battleship Wisconsin," into conversation at the slightest opening.
    The ships store would regularly sell out of anything that had the ship's name upon it. Most sales going to yardbirds.
    Interesting that two of my life career highlights, going to sea on a battleship, and getting a cat shot, were both done as a civilian.

    Great post, lots of memories including how the ship looked underway when we were standing way high up in the superstructure and looking forward. I tell you it looked as if you were looking down on acres and acres of gun turrets and ship.


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Two cool things you've got there John!

      Delete
  2. Great! Thanks for the hat tip BTW! I have been aboard all but Missouri also, and they are great ships. As a bit of a trivia: I was aboard Iowa when she was in Avondale Shipyard (New Orleans) being refitted. Iowa--besides being the name ship of the class--is unique in that she had a special (handicap accessible we'd call it) stateroom and head built on her main deck. The reason was to accommodate FDR, whom she transported a few times.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Didn't know that about the special accommodations for FDR. I live for those bits of history!

      Delete
    2. IOWA has the only bathtub ever installed on a US Navy warship, as FDR could not shower safely at sea, due to his legs.

      Delete
    3. A bathtub? What luxury!

      Makes perfect sense though.

      Delete
    4. http://rs.locationshub.com/slideshow.aspx?lid=999-2317&id=2017219 IOWA Bathtub.

      Delete
  3. That is a cool looking patch. I am surprised that a cheesehead hat has not been placed atop the mast of the USS Wisconsin.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now that would be funny. I wonder if anyone has tried?

      Delete
    2. USS WISCONSIN Patch: https://encrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com/shopping?q=tbn:ANd9GcQzaw2GC-3N2I7HeZA7mdoDI9QiMvI9DLWoE4ndWbgRENcpU6ZXJgY0r0-0Lnwe6XbQdCVNQurr&usqp=CAE

      Delete
    3. A badger wearing cracker jacks toting a battleship turret.

      Love it!

      Delete
  4. Interesting, the only one I have been aboard is Missouri. I rather thought it completed the Pearl Harbor Museum nicely. This is what you did, this was the result. Don't do it again. But that's old school and not very PC. Works for me though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Old school is good. Old school keeps the wolves from the door and the barbarians away from the gates.

      All else is folly.

      Delete
  5. Just thinking, what conflict/war (not War as we don't have the political courage to officially declare a War) have we fought in since WWII where a Iowa Class Battleship would not have been of use? I've read that we cannot afford to build a battleship anymore, or that we cannot afford the manpower. Really?, yet we can afford to throw away money on the LCS and the F-35 and numerous other similar programs?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @Ron, a battleship parked off the coast, in visual range of the shore, is an awe inspiring statement of national policy. Terrorists in a dinghy? They might scratch the paint. Sixteen inch rifles - reach out and touch someone.

      Delete
    2. @Skip, you have hit the nail on the head. Crooked politicians and business executives will keep bleeding this nation until it ceases to exist. Term limits. Term limits. Term limits. Let the bastards know not to get too comfortable.

      Delete
  6. I've not ever set foot on a battle ship. Keep meaning to visit the New Jersey where she sits in the Delaware off the Camden shore. There's a slight family connection with her . . . my great-uncle, William Grear, was a Navy Chief who was recalled to active duty during WWII. He'd served for 30 years, then retired. He spent the war years at the Philadelphia Naval Yard and had some connection with construction of the New Jersey. My only connection was to have been standing outside the operations center at the 8th RRFS while the New Jersey was firing at targets to our west. The shells were passing right over us and could sometimes be glimpsed in the clouds. The shells seemed to be as big as a Volkswagen. It was satisfying to watch. They were firing at targets that were supplied by us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You've seen much in your life Snuffy.

      Honored to know you.

      Delete
    2. Well, thank you. I'm guilty of some retrospection during the wee small hours. I've come to the conclusion that my life has been one long adventure . . . and I wouldn't change a thing . . . heartache and all. As I sit here, typing this, I'm satisfied and willing to go when time is up. (Bad heart you know.) My one disappointment might be that I cannot take all I've learned and pour it into my grandchildren's collective heads. (Then I think . . . Let it be. Doing so would deprive them of the fun in learning.)

      Delete
    3. You're a wise man Snuffy. I'm hoping you stick around a lot longer!

      Delete
  7. During the 18 years or so we lived in the Seattle area, she was mothballed in Bremerton with limited public access. We took many guests to see her. A nice ride on the Washington State Ferries and a visit made for an entertaining day. Sadly, she was the only ship at Bremerton with public access. Our guests who had served in WWII, and the women who saw their men off to war, seemed especially moved by the visit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can imagine what went through their minds on seeing the old girl.

      Delete
  8. It's an appropriate juxtaposition, placing the Missouri so close to the Arizona. Both ships bookend a great struggle, and deserve their recognition.

    ReplyDelete
  9. The only one I have seen up close and personal is the Mighty Mo, at Bremerton in the early '60s and, more recently, at Pearl.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do need to get out to Pearl. For many reasons.

      Delete
  10. It's worth the trip to see the USS ARIZONA memorial, and the USS MISSOURI.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Probably the best way to deal with a YAMATO, would be with a IOWA, and a NORTH CAROLINA, or a SOUTH DAKOTA working together The MK 7 16"/50 on an IOWA was a much flatter shooting gun than the MK 6 16"/45 on the other two classes of Fast Battleship. At typical engagement ranges for battleships, the MK 6 had to be elevated more than the MK 7. This caused the shells to come down in a plunging trajectory, giving the MK 6 better deck penetration than the MK 7.

    The MK 7's higher side penetration, combined with the problems the Japanese had with the armor in the YAMATO class, which was uneven toughness, and even capable of delaminating from the hard face surface, the IOWA would soon take care of the fire control systems on the YAMATO, and might even have taken out the main battery. The photos of MK 7 round penetrating YAMATO class armor were of turret armor that was meant for SHINANO. http://14544-presscdn-0-64.pagely.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/26_inch_thick_armor_from_japanese_yamato_class_battleship_pierced_by_a_usn_16_inch_50_cal_shell_nuff_said.jpg While IOWA would take the YAMATO out of the battle, the NORTH CAROLINA would have been the one to sink her.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow. You know your battlewagons Scott!

      Delete
  12. Of the four IOWAs, the NEW JERSEY and the WISCONSIN were considered the best of them, as they had Westinghouse / Allis Chalmers turbines, which were significantly more trouble free than the GE turbines in the other two. The Big Badger Boat once set a fuel economy record of 55 gallons per mile!

    ReplyDelete
  13. ...and, I believe the Wisconsin is the biggest of the four. She has the bow of the Kentucky now after colliding with a destroyer in the 50s which extended her length. Thus the nickname Wisky.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Yep, she is something like 4" longer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A whole four inches!

      Not that one would notice...

      Delete
  15. Besides the Alabama I've never been on the deck o a BB, but when I was a FAC in I CORPS after my F-4 tour I spotted a couple of the N.J.s naval gunfire msns up around the DMZ in support of the USMC in 1969. Awesome!!! (Also got a good birds-eye view of her a couple of times returning feet-wet from msns up in the southern Route Paks back to DaNang in '68. Made you real proud and your heart flutter just to look at her! Now it just makes me sad, as they only serve to remind me of what this nation once was and probably never will be again..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I share that sadness Virgil. I haven't given up yet though. I know too many great kids in uniform to give up on this country just yet.

      Pretty awesome seeing New Jersey from the air!

      Delete
    2. I should add that as a matter of historical accuracy that I was only the hired driver of my O-2 for that N.J. fire msn. The Navy Lt Cmdr I-CORPS NGLO (Naval Gunfire Liaison Officer)--a giant burly hot-tempered red-headed Boston Irishman (with whom I once almost got into a fight one drunken night--good thing it was "almost" as he would have broken in two this "HIGHLY MUSCULAR" 5'812" ex-tennis player, lol) actually spotted the fall of shot and handled the radios with the N.J.

      Delete
    3. I make it a point not to mess with the Boston Irish. Especially the red-headed ones!

      Delete

Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)