BB-61 USS IOWA
USS Iowa came into service upon her commission in February of 1943. For her first year, she patrolled Atlantic waters and conveyed President Roosevelt on his trip to Casablanca, Morocco in November of that year. Early in 1944, the ship reported to the Pacific Fleet for service. While in the Pacific, USS Iowa participated in several major campaigns including the Marshall Islands, the Marianas, the Palaus, and Leyte. She was part of the Battle of the Philippine Sea and Leyte Gulf as well. After a quick overhaul in early 1945, she went back into action at Okinawa. After the war, she served with the Pacific Fleet until her decommission in March 1949.
The Korean War brought USS Iowa back into the game. After the Navy recommissioned her in August 1951, she joined patrols off the Korean coast as the Seventh Fleet flagship. For the next few years, she made cruises to Europe along with her patrol duties. The Navy again decommissioned her in February 1958. Brought out of retirement, she regained her commission in April 1984. She made several voyages into various waters. On April 19, 1989, a fire in a gun turret took the lives of forty-seven crewmen. The Navy again decommissioned her in October 1990. She remains part of the Reserve Fleet today.
USS IOWA (BB-61)
The third Iowa (BB-61) was laid down at New York Navy Yard
27 June 1940; launched 27 August 1942; sponsored by Mrs. Henry A. Wallace
wife of Vice President Wallace
and commissioned 22 February 1943
Capt. John L. McCrea in command.
On 24 February
Iowa put to sea for shakedown in Chesapeake Bay and along the Atlantic coast. She got underway
27 August for Argentia
Newfoundland to neutralize the threat of German Battleship Tirpitz which was reportedly operating In N
In the fall
Iowa carried President Franklin D. Roosevelt to Casablanca
French Morocco on the first leg of the journey to the Teheran Conference in November. After the conference she returned the President to the United States.
As Flagship of Battleship Division 7
Iowa departed the United States 2 January 1944 for the Pacific Theatre and her combat debut In the campaign for the Marshalls. From 29 January to 3 February
she supported carrier air strikes made by Rear Ad
miral Frederick C. Sherman's task group against Kwajalein and Eniwetok Atolls in the Marshall Islands. Her next assignment was to support air strikes against the Japanese Naval base at Truk
Caroline Islands. Iowa
in company with other ships w
as detached from the support group 16 February
1944 to conduct an anti-shipping sweep around Truk to destroy enemy naval vessels escaping to the north. On 21 February
she was underway with Fast Carrier Task Force 58 while it conducted the first stri
kes against Saipan
and Guam in the Marianas.
On 18 March
flying the flag of Vice Admiral Willis A. Lee
joined in the bombardment of Mili Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Although struck by two Japanese 4.7" projectiles during the action
ffered negligible damage. She then rejoined Task Force 58
and supported air strikes against the Palau Islands and Woleai of the Carolines which continued for several days.
From 22 to 28 April 1944
Iowa supported air raids on Hollandia
and Wakde Islands to support Army forces on Aitape
and Humbolt Bay in New Guinea. She then joined the Task Force's second strike on Truk
bombarded Japanese facilities on Ponape in the Carolines
In the opening phases of the Marianas campaign
Iowa protected the flattops during air strikes on the islands of Saipan
12 June. Iowa was then detached to bombard enemy installations on Saipan and Tinian
3-14 June. On 19 June
in an engagement known as the Battle of the Philippine Sea
as part of the battle line of Fast Carrier Task Force 58
helped repel four massive air raids launched by the Japanese Middle Fleet. This resulted in the
almost complete destruction of Japanese carrier-based aircraft. Iowa then joined In the pursuit of the fleeing enemy Fleet
shooting down one torpedo plane and assisting in splashing another.
Iowa remained off the Marianas supporting air strikes on the Palaus and landings on Guam. After a month's rest
Iowa sortied from Eniwetok as part of the 3d Fleet
and helped support the landings on Peleliu
She then protected the carriers during air strikes against the Central Philippines to neutralize enemy air power for the long awaited invasion of the Philippines. On 10 October
Iowa arrived off Okinawa for a series of air strikes on the Ryuky
us and Formosa. She then supported air strikes against Luzon
18 October and continued this vital duty during General MacArthur's landing on Leyte 20 October.
In a last ditch attempt to halt the United States campaign to recapture the Philippines
the Japanese Navy struck back with a three-pronged attack aimed at the destruction of American amphibious forces in Leyte Gulf. Iowa accompanied TF-38 duri
ng attacks against the Japanese Central Force as it steamed through the Sibuyan Sea toward San Bernardino Strait. The reported results of these attacks and the apparent retreat of the Japanese Central Force led Admiral Halsey to believe that this for
ce had been ruined as an effective fighting group. Iowa
with Task Force 38
steamed after the Japanese Northern Force off Cape Engano
Luzon. On 25 October 1944
when the ships of the Northern Force were almost within range of Iowa's gun
word arrived that the Japanese Central Force was attacking a group of American escort carriers off Samar. This threat to the American beachheads forced her to reverse course and steam to support the vulnerable "baby carriers." However
fight put up by the escort carriers and their screen had already caused the Japanese to retire and Iowa was denied a surface action. Following the Battle for Leyte Gulf
Iowa remained in the waters off the Philippines screening carriers
during strikes against Luzon and Formosa. She sailed for the West Coast late in December 1944.
Iowa arrived San Francisco
15 January 1945
for overhaul. She sailed 19 March 1945 for Okinawa
arriving 15 April 1945. Commencing 24 April 1945
Iowa supported carrier operations which assured American troops vital air superiority durin
g their struggle for that bitterly contested Island. She then supported air strikes off
southern Kyushu from 25 May to 13 June 1945. Iowa participated in strikes on the Japanese homeland 14-15 July and bombarded Muroian
destroying steel mills and other targets. The city of Hitachi on Honshu was given the same treatment o
n the night of 17-18 July 1945. Iowa continued to support fast carrier strikes until the cessation of hostilities
15 August 1945.
Iowa entered Tokyo Bay with the occupation forces
29 August 1945. After serving as Admiral William F. Halsey's flagship for the surrender ceremony
2 September 1945
Iowa departed Tokyo Bay 20 September 1945 for the United States.
15 October 1945
Iowa returned to Japanese waters in January 1946 and became flagship of the 5th Fleet. She continued this role until she sailed or the United States 25 March 1946. From that time on
until September 1948
Iowa operated from West Coast ports
on Naval Reserve and at sea training and drills and maneuvers with the Fleet. Iowa decommissioned 24 March 1949. After Communist aggression in Korea necessitated an expansion of the active fleet
Iowa recommissioned 25 August 1951
Captain William R. Smedberg III in command. She operated off the West Coast until March 1952
when she sailed for the Far East. On 1 April 1952
Iowa became the flagship of Vice Admiral Robert T. Brisco
and departed Yokosuka
Japan to support United Nations Forces in Korea. From 8 April to 16 October 1952
Iowa was involved in combat operations off the East Coast of Korea. Her primary mission was to aid ground troops
by bombarding enemy targets at Songjin
North Korea. During this time
Admiral Briscoe was relieved as Commander
7th Fleet. Vice Admiral J. J. Clark
the new commander
continued to use Iowa as his flagship until 17 Octob
er 1952. Iowa departed Yokosuka
Japan 19 October 1952 for overhaul at Norfolk and training operations in the Caribbean Sea.
Iowa embarked midshipmen for at sea training to Northern Europe
and immediately after took part in Operation "Mariner
" a major NATO exercise
serving as flagship of Vice Admiral E. T. Woolfidge
commanding the 2d Fleet. Upon comple
tion of this exercise
until the fall of 1954
Iowa operated in the Virginia Capes area. In September 1954
she became the flagship of Rear Admiral R. E. Libby
Battleship Cruiser Force
U. S. Atlantic Fleet.
From January to April 1955
Iowa made an extended cruise to the Mediterranean as the first battleship regularly assigned to Commander
6th Fleet. Iowa departed on a midshipman training cruise 1 June 1955 and upon her return
Norfolk for a 4-mouth overhaul. Following refit
Iowa continued intermittent training cruises and operational exercises
until 4 January 1957 when she departed Norfolk for duty with the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean. Upon completion of this d
Iowa embarked midshipmen for a South American training cruise and joined in the International Naval Review off Hampton Roads
13 June 1957.
On 3 September 1957
Iowa sailed for Scotland for NATO Operation "Strikeback." She returned to Norfolk
28 September 1957 and departed Hampton Roads for the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard
22 October 1957. She decommissioned 24 February 1958 and e
ntered the Atlantic Reserve Fleet at Philadelphia
where she remains.
Iowa earned nine battle stars for World War II service and two for Korean service.
[Note: The above USS IOWA (BB-61) history may or may not contain text provided by crew members of the USS IOWA (BB-61) or by other non-crew members and text from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships]