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USS Wisconsin (BB-64) Battleship (1944)

Authored By Dan Alex with JR Potts, AUS 173d AB | Last Updated: 9/1/2015

The USS Wisconsin was decommissioned for the final time on September 30, 1991.

Though numbered before the USS Missouri (BB 63), the USS Wisconsin (BB 64) actually completed construction before her sister and is part of the Iowa-class of battleships that includes the USS Iowa and USS New Jersey. These mammoth sea-going vessels were a pivotal part of US Navy supremacy during and after World War 2 despite the appearance of the aircraft carrier as the new king of the seas. She was launched from Chesapeake Bay in 1944 and traveled the West Indies before settling with the Pacific Fleet in 1944. The USS Wisconsin arrived relatively late in the Pacific Theater but took part in Task Force 38's push into Luzon, Formosa, Nansei Shoto, Saigon, Camranh Bay and French Indochina. Additional escort duties took her to operation in raids against Honk Kong, Canton, Hainan Island and Okinawa.

Like her sister ships, the USS Wisconsin's profile was dominated by the 16" main guns in her three main turrets - two forward and one aft - complimented by an additional 20 x 5" guns. The superstructure was protected by 80 x 40mm and 49 x 20mm anti-aircraft guns which accounted for several enemy kills throughout the war in support of the carrier groups. The 1982 modernization program for the Iowa-class ships saw the introduction of 32 x BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles and 16 x RGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles added to the mix. Anti-missile and anti-aircraft defense was further augmented by the addition of 4 x 20mm Phalanx Close-In Weapon Systems (CIWS) replacing the old AA mounts. Three Vought Kingfisher floatplanes were kept aboard and these systems served well in the roles of reconnaissance, patrol and - most importantly - search and rescue of downed pilots.

By 1945, the Wisconsin was touring the Pacific in force with her Task Force. Now in prime position, she opened up on the Japanese mainland with her 16" main guns and struck at industrial targets within. With next to little in the way of defense, the joint American and British armada could shell positions on the island at will and that they did, eventually forcing the Japanese surrender on August 15th, 1945. The world war was officially over. The Wisconsin then took part in the voyage home, repatriating hundreds of American G.I.'s in the process. She slowly made her way back to the east coast of the United States and later went on a tour of South America. Like her sister ships, she was later placed on inactive status with the reserve fleet at made home in Norfolk, Virginia on July 1st, 1948.

Following her entire class, the Wisconsin was quickly brought back into active service with a re-commissioning in 1951 due to the escalating crisis on the Korean Peninsula. In the Korean War, the Wisconsin did what she does best in laying down suppressive shelling support and attacking targets of opportunity as directed against North Korean positions. In the conflict, the USS Wisconsin received her first direct hit from a 155mm howitzer fortunately resulting in little damage and no deaths. By 1952, she was back at home and being used as a training vessel and conducted several more journeys in the Atlantic until finally being deactivated once more in 1958.

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Specifications for the
USS Wisconsin (BB-64)

Country of Origin: United States
Initial Year of Service: 1944
Operators: United States

Crew: 1,921

Length: 887 ft (270.36 m)
Beam: 108 ft (32.92 m)
Draught: 29 ft (8.84 m)
Displacement: 45,000 tons

Machinery: Geared steam turbines developing 212,000 horsepower to 4 x Shafts.

Surface Speed: 33 kts (38 mph)
Range: 14,900 miles (23,979 km)

9 x 16" Mark 7 main guns
20 x 5" Mark 12 guns
80 x 40mm anti-aircraft cannons
49 x 20mm anti-aircraft cannons

9 x 16" Mark 7 main guns
12 x 5" Mark 12 guns
32 x BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles
16 x RGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles
4 x 20mm Phalanx CIWS

Air Arm: 1943:
3 x Vought Kingfisher floatplanes

8 x RQ-2 Pioneer UAV

Ship Class: Iowa-class
Number-in-Class: 4
Ships-in-Class: USS Iowa (BB 61); USS New Jersey (BB 62); USS Missouri (BB 63); USS Wisconsin (BB 64)