USS Iowa (BB-61) was the lead ship of her class of battleship and the fourth in the United States Navy to be named in honor of the 29th state. Construction was started on 27 June, 1940. She was launched on 27 August, 1942 and commissioned on 22 February 1943 with Captain John L. McCrea in command. Upon commissioning, she was sent to the Atlantic Fleet, but was later moved to the Pacific Fleet. She was the only battleship in her class to serve both in the Atlantic and the Pacific in World War II.
Iowa carried President Roosevelt, Secretary of State Cordell Hull, and World War II military brass to Casablanca, French Morocco, on the first leg of the journey to the Tehran Conference in 1943.
Iowa class battleships' main batteries consist of nine 16" (406.4mm)/50 caliber Mark 7 guns, which could fire 2,700 lb (1,200 kg) armor-piercing shells some 20 nautical miles (23 mi; 37 km). Their secondary batteries consisted of 20 - 5 in (130 mm)/38 cal guns in twin turrets, which could fire at targets up to 12 nautical miles (14 mi; 22 km) away. With the advent of air power and the need to gain and maintain air superiority came a need to protect the growing fleet of Allied aircraft carriers; to this end, the Iowa-class battleships were fitted with an array of Oerlikon 20 mm and Bofors 40 mm anti-aircraft guns to defend Allied carriers from enemy airstrikes.
The Iowa-class ships displace 45,000 tons, are 887' in overall length and have a maximum beam of 108' 2", which allows four forward turrets of the 5" gun batteries to fire forward at the same time as the two forward 16" gun batteries fire forward. The steam turbines of the power plants produce 212,000 horsepower, making the class capable of a 33 knot (41.25 m.p.h./66.4 k.p.h.) maximum speed.
The ships of the Iowa-class consist of:
Iowa (BB-61), built at the New York Navy Yard. Keel laid in June 1940; launched in August 1942; commissioned in February 1943.
New Jersey (BB-62), built at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Keel laid in September 1940; launched in December 1942; commissioned in May 1943. New Jersey served as the flagship of Admiral William Halsey.
Missouri (BB-63), built at the New York Navy Yard. Keel laid in January 1941; launched in January 1944; commissioned in June 1944. It was on the decks of Missouri that Japan surrendered to the U.S., closing World War II. Missouri is now a museum at Pearl Harbor.
Wisconsin (BB-64), built at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Keel laid in January 1941; launched in December 1943; commissioned in April 1944.
Illinois (BB-65). Under construction at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Keel laid in January 1945. Cancelled in August 1945 when 22% complete. Scrapped on the shipway in 1958.
Kentucky (BB-66). Under construction at the Norfolk Navy Yard, Portsmouth, Virginia. Keel originally laid in March 1942; construction suspended in June 1942, resumed in December 1944 and suspended again in February 1947. Hull launched in January 1950 to clear the building dock. Sold for scrapping in 1958.
During the festivities marking the 75th Anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge this weekend, Iowa will sail for Los Angeles where she will become part of The Pacific Battleship Center, a happy ending for this fine ship which languished for years in the Ghost Fleet of ships in Suisun Bay to be scrapped.
«Louis» salutes everyone who has served in our militaries and in the Coast Guard not only this Memorial Day Weekend, but every day.
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