USS New Jersey (BB-62)
The USS New Jersey went on to become the most decorated battleship in United States Navy history.
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Designed and operated in the early 1940's, the USS New Jersey saw extensive combat actions in the Pacific Theater of War assisting in task force duties, amphibious marine assaults and flagship protection (herself becoming a flagship for Operation Hailstone. Her first action was in softening shoreline positions at Eniwetok for an amphibious assault and the vessel would later take part in actions against Saipan and Tinian. The New Jersey was also present at the "Marianas Turkey Shoot" in which some 400 Japanese pilots lost their lives to just 17 American souls. Later, the New Jersey was called into action in operations in an around the Philippine Islands. Towards the end of the conflict, the New Jersey would see extensive action in the Iwo Jima landings and the taking of Okinawa before residing for a time in Tokyo Bay and later returning to San Francisco. After World War 2, the USS New Jersey made her way back home to the state of New Jersey to a heroes welcome. Once there, the New Jersey took the role of crew trainer for a time before being deactivated and set to reserve with the Atlantic Fleet.
The respite for the New Jersey never lasted long, however, as storm clouds loomed over the Korean peninsula. The New Jersey was called back into operational action by 1950 and her guns erupted once more in anger, often times outranging the land-based artillery systems available. Receiving generally little damage through World War 2, the New Jersey took a direct hit in the Korean War for the loss of one of her crew. With ongoing actions, the New Jersey engaged shoreline and inland positions with stunning efficiency. By 1953, her mission - and the war - was finally at a close and she set out for Norfolk, Virginia then later participating in joint exercises in the Mediterranean as required. The USS New Jersey was once again deactivated and added to the reserve fleet in 1957.
The Vietnam conflict pressed the USS New Jersey into further action in 1968 and continued her unblemished performance streak in that war, being called upon to support friendlies and silence enemies as before. The New Jersey was finally called back to Long Beach, California in 1969 only to receive orders that she would be deactivated once more. Modernization and a new-look navy brought the USS New Jersey back online in 1982. This effort put the New Jersey at the forefront of becoming the most advanced battleship in the world as Tomahawk cruise missile launchers and Harpoon anti-ship missiles launchers were added.
Like her sister ships, the USS New Jersey was an awe-inspiring site in 1943 with her 9 x 16 inch Mark 7 series main guns. Supplemental artillery support was provided through some twenty 5" Mark 12 series cannons and air-defense accomplished through 80 x 40mm guns and an additional 49 x 20mm guns. By 1982 and undergoing modernization with the rest of the Iowa class battleships, the USS New Jersey received a full complement of 32 x BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from eight quadruple launchers. This was supplemented by 16 x RGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles fired from similar quadruple launchers. Air defense was now covered by 4 x 20mm Phalanx CIWS (Close-In Weapon System) mountings positioned about.
Still at her home in Long Beach, the USS New Jersey was re-commissioned and back in action just in time to support US involvement in the Lebanese War of 1983-1984. As expected, the New Jersey performed admirably well and was kept offshore after the Marine barracks bombing on October 23, 1983. Following that involvement, the New Jersey served with the Pacific Fleet before returning stateside in 1990. With her decommissioning already underway, the USS New Jersey had to watch from the sidelines as her sisters - the USS Wisconsin and the USS Missouri - pounded Iraqi positions in Kuwait during the Persian Gulf War, a silent end to a most legendary ship.
Today, the USS New Jersey remains a floating museum and, fittingly, the property of the state of New Jersey. It was added to the list of National Register of Historic Places on September 17th, 2004 and resides in Camden, New Jersey. The USS New Jersey, in all its glory, remains the most decorated battleship to have ever flown the colors of the United States of America, earning some 19 battle stars for actions covering World War 2, Korea, Vietnam and Lebanon - a testament to her crews, commanders and systems alike, operating in deadly and efficient unison and instilling the fear and might of the power of United States Navy for well over four and a half decades.