BATTLESHIPS (Military Weapons)

Iowa (BB 61)

The US Iowa-class ships were the world’s last surviving battleships in naval service, having been returned to active commission in the 1980s. They were estimated to have a remaining service life of 10-15 years, and their main armament was conceded to have unmatched power within its range. On the other hand, they remained expensive to operate even with a slimmed-down crew. Moreover, the ships required unique knowledge, the lack of which could be fatal, as the turret explosion in the Iowa showed. The four ships were stricken in 1995, forestalling any return to service.
These are the longest battleships ever completed, much of the length forward adopted to raise the maximum hull speed while retaining a broad beam across the citadel. Two of the three massive, three-gun turrets are superimposed ahead of the bridge; the third is in the main deck aft. They were by far the most heavily armored ships in any navy in the 1980s, having 12-in (305-mm) belt armor and 19.7-in (500-mra) armor on the turret face.
When reactivated in the 1980s, these ships underwent a limited modernization, including receiving updated communications and radars, sewage holding tanks, and habitability features. The Phalanx CIWS defensive system as well as Harpoon antiship and Tomahawk land-attack missiles were fitted. In 1987, the Iowa was trials ship for the Pioneer Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) system. The Missouri and Wisconsin subsequently employed Pioneer UAVs for gunfire spotting in Operation Desert Storm.


The New Jersey and •Missouriwere modernized and recommis-sioned at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard; the Iowa and Wisconsin were modernized at the Avondale and Litton/Ingalls shipyards. New Jersey recommissioned in December 1982; the last ship to re-commission was the Wisconsin, in October 1988.


The New Jersey fired her 16-in guns against shore targets near Beirut for the first time on December 14, 1983. She was also the first US battleship to enter the Persian Gulf
(December 1989).
The Wisconsin entered the Persian Gulf in August 1990 as part of Operation Desert Shield. Her main armament was the only artillery that could outrange the South African-de signed G5 155-mm howitzers then deployed in Iraqi service.
When Operation Desert Storm began on January 17, 1991, the Missouri launched 28 Tomahawk cruise missiles at targets in Baghdad and other points; the Wisconsinlaunched 24 missiles. On February 4, the Missouri fifed its guns in earnest for the first time since 1953, the Wisconsin joining on February 7.
During the next 3!/2 weeks, the two battleships fired 1,083 rounds of 16-in ammunition; the total included practice
rounds. The Missouri fired 759 rounds in 41 Naval Gunfire Support Missions (NGFS), including 112 rounds in eight fire support missions in the first 48 hours. The Wisconsin undertook 34 NGFS and fired 324 projectiles.
Targets in Kuwait included bunkers, troop concentrations, artillery positions, SAM missile batteries, radar sites, and the Khawr al-Mufattah Marina {15 boats sunk). The Navy’s batde damage assessment of 41 NGFS concluded that 32% of the 68 targets were destroyed, 10% neutralized, 26% heavily damaged, and 32% lightly to moderately damaged.
The bombardments represented the first combat use of the Pioneer UAVs for real-time targeting and damage assessment; just over half (52%) of the NGFS were “spotted” by the battleships’ own UAVs. The small aircraft were claimed to have greatly improved the accuracy and effect of the 16-in guns. (Before long, Iraqi soldiers began showing surrender flags to the Pioneer’s camera.)
The Iowa was decommissioned on October 26, 1990, with the NewJersey following on February 9, 1991, Wisconsin on September 30, 1991, and the Missouri on
March 31, 1992.


DISPLACEMENT 57,350 tons full load
length 887 ft 3 in (270.6 m)
overall except New Jersey
887 ft 7 in (270.7 m)
beam 108 ft 2 in (33.0m)
draft 38 ft (11.6m)
MACHINERY 8 Babcock & Wilcox boilers, 4 steam turbines (General Electric except Westinghouse in New Jersey), 212,000 shp on 4 shafts=33 kts, range 15,000 nm at 15 kts, electric
power 10,500 kW
CREW 1,570
16 Harpoon SSM in 4 quad canisters
32 Tomahawk TASM/TLAM in 8
9 16-in (406-mm)/50-cal Mk 7 guns in
triple turrets 12 5-in (127-mm)/38-cal Mk 28 dual-
purpose in twin turrets 4 20-mm Mk 15 Phalanx Gatling-type
HELICOPTERS landing area
SPS^9 2D air-search radar
SPS-67 surface-search radar (except
SPS-lOFin New Jersey) 7 gunfire control systems (4 Mk 37
with Mk 25 radar, 2 Mk 38 with Mk
13 radar, and 1 Mk 40 with Mk 27 radar)
SLQr32(V)3 active/passive EW

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