USS WISCONSIN (BB-64)
The second Wisconsin (BB-64) was laid down on 25 January 1941 at the Philadelphia Navy Yard; launched on 7 December 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Walter S. Goodland; and commissioned on 16 April 1944
Capt. Earl E. Stone in command.
After her trials and initial training in the Chesapeake Bay
Wisconsin departed Norfolk
on 7 July 1944
bound for the British West Indies. Following her shakedown
conducted out of Trinidad
the third of the Iowa-class battleships to j
oin the Fleet returned to her builder's yard for post-shakedown repairs and alterations.
On 24 September 1944
Wisconsin sailed for the west coast
transited the Panama Canal
and reported for duty with the Pacific Fleet on 2 October. The battleship later moved to Hawaiian waters for training exercises and then headed for the Western C
arolines. Upon reaching Ulithi on 9 December
she joined Admiral William F. Halsey's 3d Fleet.
The powerful new warship had arrived at a time when the reconquest of the Philippines was well underway. As a part of that movement
the planners had envisioned landings on the southwest coast of Mindoro
south of Luzon. From that point
American forces c
ould threaten Japanese shipping lanes through the South China Sea.
The day before the amphibians assaulted Mindoro
the 3d Fleet's Fast Carrier Task Force (TF) 38-supported in art by Wisconsin-rendered Japanese facilities at Manila largely useless. Between 14 and 16 December
TF 38's naval aviators secured complet
e tactical surprise and quickly won complete mastery of the air and sank or destroyed 27 Japanese vessels; damaged 60 more; destroyed 269 planes; and bombed miscellaneous ground installations.
The next day the weather
soon turned sour for Halsey's sailors. A furious typhoon struck his fleet
catching many ships refueling and with little ballast in their nearly dry bunkers. Three destroyers-Hull (DD-350)
and Spence (DD-512)-capsized and sank. Wisconsin proved her seaworthiness as she escaped the storm unscathed.
As heavily contested as they were
the Mindoro operations proved only the introduction to another series of calculated blows aimed at the occupying Japanese in the Philippines. For Wisconsin
her next operation was the occupation of Luzon. Bypassin
g the southern beaches
American amphibians went ashore at Lingayen Gulf-the scene of the Japanese landings nearly three years before.
Wisconsin-armed with heavy antiaircraft batteries-performed escort duty for TF 38's fast carriers during air strikes against Formosa
and the Nansei Shoto
to neutralize Japanese forces there and to cover the unfolding Lingayen Gulf operatio
ns. Those strikes
lasting from 3 to 22 January 1945
included a thrust into the South China Sea
in the hope that major units of the Japanese Navy could be drawn into battle.
Air strikes between Saigon and Camranh Bay
on 12 January resulted in severe losses for the enemy. TF 38's warplanes sank 41 ships and damaged heavily damaged docks
and aircraft facilities. At least 112 enemy planes would never
again see operational service. Formosa
already struck on 3 and 4 January
again fell victim to the marauding American airmen
being smashed again on 9
and 21 January. Soon
and Hainan Island felt the brunt of TF 38's power. Beside
s damaging and sinking Japanese shipping
American planes from the task force set the Canton oil refineries afire and blasted the Hong Kong Naval Station. They also raided Okinawa on 22 January
considerably lessening enemy air activities that could threa
ten the Luzon landings.
Subsequently assigned to the 5th Fleet-when Admiral Spruance relieved Admiral Halsey as Commander of the Fleet-Wisconsin moved northward with the redesignated TF 58 as the carriers headed for the Tokyo area. On 16 February 1945
the task force appr
oached the Japanese coast under cover of adverse weather conditions and achieved complete tactical surprise. As a result
they shot down 322 enemy planes and destroyed 177 more on the ground
Japanese shipping-both naval and merchant-suffered drastically
as did hangars and aircraft installations. Moreover
all this damage to the enemy had cost the American Navy only 49 planes.
The task force moved to Iwo Jima on 17 February to provide direct support for the landings slated to take place on that island on the 19th. It revisited Tokyo on the 25th and
the next day
hit the island of Hachino off the coast of Honshu. During these r
besides causing heavy damage or ground facilities
the American planes sent five small vessels to the bottom and destroyed 158 planes.
On 1 March
reconnaissance planes flew over the island of Okinawa
taking last minute intelligence photographs to be used in planning the assault on that island. The next day
cruisers from TF 58 shelled Okino Daito Shima in training for the forthcoming o
peration. The force then retired to Ulithi for replenishment.
Wisconsin's task force stood out of Ulithi on 14
bound for Japan. The mission of that group was to eliminate airborne resistance from the Japanese homeland to American forces off Okinawa. Enemy fleet units at Kure and Kobe
on southern Honshu
reeled under the impact of the explosive blows delive
red by TF 58's airmen. On 18 and 19 March
from a point 100 miles southwest of Kyushu
TF 58 hit enemy airfields on that island. However
the Japanese drew blood during that action when kamikazes crashed into FRANKLIN (CV-13) on the 19th and seriously dam
aged that fleet carrier.
the task force retired from Kyushu
screening the blazing and battered flattop. In doing so
the screen downed 48 attackers. At the conclusion of the operation
the force felt that it had achieved its mission of prohibiting any large-scale
resistance from the air to the slated landings on Okinawa.
On the 24th
Wisconsin trained her 16-inch rifles on targets ashore on Okinawa. Together with the other battlewagons of the task force
she pounded Japanese positions and installations in preparation for the landings. Although fierce
stance was doomed to fail by dwindling numbers of aircraft and trained pilots to man them. In addition
the Japanese fleet
steadily hammered by air attacks from 5th Fleet aircraft
found itself confronted by a growing
and determined enemy. On
the undaunted enemy battleship Yamato
with her 18.1-inch guns
sortied to attack the American invasion fleet off Okinawa. Met head-on by a swarm of carrier planes
the light cruiser Yahagi
and four destroyers went
to the bottom
the victims of massed air power. Never again would the Japanese fleet present a major challenge to the American fleet in the war in the Pacific.
While TF 58's planes were off dispatching Yamato and her consorts to the bottom of the South China Sea
enemy aircraft struck back at American surface units. Combat air patrols (CAP) knocked down 15 enemy planes
and ships' gunfire accounted for an
but not before one kamikaze penetrated the CAP and screen to crash on the flight deck of the fleet carrier Hancock (CV-19). On 11 April
the "Divine Wind" renewed its efforts; and only drastic maneuvers and heavy barrages of gunfire sa
ved the task force. None of the fanatical pilots achieved any direct hits
managed to cause some minor damage. Combat air patrols bagged 17 planes
and ships' gunfire accounted for an even dozen. The next day
aircraft committed hara-kiri into TF 58
bristling with 5-inch
40-millimeter and 20- millimeter guns
together with other units of the screens for the vital carriers
kept the enemy at bay or destroyed him before he could reach his
Over the days that ensued
American task force planes hit Japanese facilities and installations in the enemy's homeland. Kamikazes
redoubling their efforts
managed to crash into three carriers on successive days-Intrepid (CV-11)
Bunker Hill (CV- 17)
and Enterprise (CV-6).
By 4 June
a typhoon was swirling through the Fleet. Wisconsin rode out the storm unscathed
but three cruisers
and a destroyer suffered serious damage. Offensive operations were resumed on 8 June with a final aerial assault on Kyush
u. Japanese aerial response was pitifully small; 29 planes were located and destroyed. On that day
one of Wisconsin's floatplanes landed and rescued a downed pilot from the carrier Shangri-La (CV-38).
Wisconsin ultimately put into Leyte Gulf and dropped anchor there on 18 June for repairs and replenishment. Three weeks later
on 1 July
the battleship and her consorts sailed once more for Japanese home waters for carrier air strikes on the enemy
's heartland. Nine days later
carrier planes from TF 38 destroyed 72 enemy aircraft on the ground and smashed industrial sites in the Tokyo area. So little was the threat from the dwindling Japanese air arm that the Americans made no attempt whatever to
conceal the location of their armada which was operating off her shores with impunity.
On the 16th
Wisconsin again unlimbered her main battery
hurling 16-inch shells shoreward at the steel mills and oil refineries at Muroran
Hokkaido. Two days later
she wrecked industrial facilities in the Hitachi Miro area
on the coast of Honsh
northeast of Tokyo itself. During that bombardment
British battleships of the Eastern Fleet contributed their heavy shellfire. By that point in the war
Allied warships were able to shell the Japanese homeland almost at will.
Task Force 38's planes subsequently blasted the Japanese naval base at Yokosuka
and put one of the two remaining Japanese battleships-the former fleet flagship Nagato out of action. On 24 and 25 July
American carrier planes visited the Inland Sea
blasting enemy sites on Honshu
and Shikoku. Kure then again came under attack. Six major fleet units were located there and badly damaged
marking the virtual end of Japanese sea power.
Over the weeks that ensued
TF 38 continue its raids on Japanese industrial facilities
and merchant and naval shipping. Admiral Halsey's airmen visited destruction upon the Japanese capital for the last time on 13 August 1946. Two days later
the Japanese capitulated. World War II was over at last.
as port of the occupying force
arrived at Tokyo Bay on 6 September
three days after the formal surrender occurred on board the battleship Missouri (BB-63). During Wisconsin's brief career in World War II
she had steamed
831 miles since commissioning; had shot down three enemy planes; had claimed assists on four occasions; and had fueled her screening destroyers on some 250 occasions.
Shifting subsequently to Okinawa
the battleship embarked homeward-bound GI's on 22 September
as part of the "Magic Carpet" operation staged to bring soldiers
and marines home from the far-flung battlefronts of the Pacific. Departing Okinawa on
Wisconsin reached Pearl Harbor on 4 October
remaining there for five days before she pushed on for the west coast on the last leg of her state-side bound voyage. She reached San Francisco on 15 October.
Heading for the east coast of the United States soon after the start of the new year
Wisconsin transited the Panama Canal between 11 and 13 January and reached Hampton Roads
on the 18th. Following a cruise south to Guantanamo Bay
the battleship entered the Norfolk Naval Shipyard for overhaul. After repairs and alterations that consumed the summer months
Wisconsin sailed for South American waters.
Over the weeks that ensued
the battleship visited Valparaiso
from 1 to 6 November; Callao
from 9 to 13 November; Balboa
from 16 to 20 November; and La Guajira
from 22 to 26 November
before returning to Norfolk: on
2 December 1946.
Wisconsin spent nearly all of 1947 as a training ship
taking naval reservists on two-week cruises through-out the year. Those voyages commenced at Bayonne
and saw visits conducted at Guantanamo Bay
and the Panama Canal Zone. While un
derway at sea
the ship would perform various drills and exercises before the cruise would end where it had started
at Bayonne. During June and July of 1947
Wisconsin took Naval Academy midshipmen on cruises to northern European waters.
In January 1948
Wisconsin joined the Atlantic Reserve Fleet at Norfolk
for inactivation. Placed out of commission
in reserve on 1 July 1948 Wisconsin was assigned to the Norfolk group of the Atlantic Reserve Fleet.
Her sojourn in "mothballs
was comparatively brief because of the North Korean invasion of South Korea in late June 1950. Wisconsin was recommissioned
on 3 March 1951
Capt. Thomas Burrowes in command. After shakedown training
battleship conducted two midshipmen training cruises
taking the officers-to-be to Edinburgh
Nova Scotia; New York City; and Guantanamo Bay
before she returned to Norfolk.
Wisconsin departed Norfolk on 25 October 1951
bound for the Pacific. She transited the Panama Canal on the 29th and reached. Yokosuka
on 21 November. There
she relieved New Jersey (BB-62) as flagship for Vice Admiral H. M. Martin
On the 26th
with Vice Admiral Martin and Rear Admiral F. P. Denebrink
Wisconsin departed Yokosuka for Korean waters to support the fast carrier operations of TF 77. She left the company of the carrier
force on 2 December and
screened by the destroyer Wiltsie (DD-716)
provided gunfire support for the Republic of Korea (ROK) Corps in the Kasong-Kosong area. After disembarking Admiral Denebrink on 3 December at Kangnung
the battleship resumed st
ation on the Korean "bombline
" providing gunfire support for the American 1st Marine Division. Wisconsin's shellings accounted for a tank
two gun emplacements
and a building. She continued her gunfire support task for the 1st Marine Division and
1st ROK Corps through 6 December
accounting for enemy bunkers
and troop concentrations. On one occasion during that time
the battleship received a request for call-fire support and provided three star-shells for the 1st ROK Corps
illuminating a communist attack that was consequently repulsed with considerable enemy casualties.
After being relieved on the gunline by the heavy cruiser St. Paul (CA-78) on 6 December
Wisconsin retired only briefly from gunfire support duties. She resumed them
in the Kasong-Kosong area on 11 December screened by the d
estroyer Twining (DD-540). The following day
saw the embarkation in Wisconsin of Rear Admiral H. R. Thurber
Battleship Division 2. The admiral came on board via helicopter
incident to his inspection trip in the Far
The battleship continued naval gunfire support duties on the "bombline
" shelling enemy bunkers
and trench systems through 14 December. She departed the "bombline" on that day to render special gunfire support duties i
n the Kojo area blasting coastal targets in support of United Nations (UN) troops ashore. That same day
she returned to the Kasong-Kosong area. On the 15th
she disembarked Admiral Thurber by helicopter. The next day
Wisconsin departed Korean wat
heading for Sasebo to rearm.
Returning to the combat zone on the 17th
Wisconsin embarked United States Senator Homer Ferguson of Michigan on the 18th. That day
the battleship supported the 11th ROK invasion with night illumination fire that enabled the ROK troops to repulse
a communist assault with heavy enemy casualties. Departing the "bombline" on the 19th
the battleship later that day transferred her distinguished passenger
by helicopter to the carrier Valley Forge (CV-45).
Wisconsin next participated in a coordinated air-surface bombardment of Wonsan to neutralize pre-selected targets. She shifted her bombardment station. to the western end of Wonsan harbor
hitting boats and small craft in the inner swept channel du
ring the afternoon. Such activities helped to forestall any communist attempts to assault the friendly-held islands in the Wonsan area. Wisconsin then made an anti-boat sweep to the north
utilizing her 5-inch batteries on suspected boat concentrat
ions. She then provided gunfire support to UN troops operating at the "bombline" until three days before Christmas 1951. She then rejoined the carrier task force.
On 28 December
Francis Cardinal Spellman-on a Korean tour over the Christmas holidays-visited the ship
coming on board by helicopter to celebrate Mass for the Catholic members of the crew. The distinguished prelate departed the ship by helicopter off Po
hang. Three days later
on the last day of the year
Wisconsin put into Yokosuka.
Wisconsin departed that Japanese port on 8 January 1952 and headed for Korean waters once more. She reached Pusan the following day and entertained the President of South Korea
and his wife
on the 10th. President and Mrs. Rhee recei
ved full military honors as they came on board
and he reciprocated by awarding Vice Admiral Martin the ROK Order of the Military Merit.
Wisconsin returned to the "bombline" on 11 January and
over the ensuing days
delivered heavy gunfire support for the 1st Marine Division and the 1st ROK Corps. As before
her primary targets were command posts
ions and mortar positions. As before
she stood ready to deliver; call- fire support as needed. One such occasion occurred; on 14 January when she shelled enemy troops in the open at the request of the ROK 1st Corps.
Rearming at Sasebo and once more joining TF 77 off the coast of Korea soon thereafter
Wisconsin resumed support at the "bombline" on 23 January. Three days later
she shifted once more to the Kojo region
to participate in a coordinated air and gu
n strike. That same day
the battleship-returned to the "bombline" and shelled the command post and communications center for the 15th North Korean Division during call-fire missions for the 1st Marine Division.
Returning to Wonsan at the end of January
Wisconsin bombarded enemy guns at Hodo Pando before she was rearmed at Sasebo. The battleship rejoined TF 77 on 2 February and the next day
blasted railway buildings and marshaling yards at Hodo Pando and
Kojo before rejoining TF 77. After replenishment at Yokosuka a few days later
she returned to the Kosong area and resumed gunfire support. During that time
she destroyed railway bridges and a small shipyard besides conducting call-fire missions on enem
y command posts
and personnel shelters
making numerous cuts on enemy trench lines in the process.
On 26 February
Wisconsin arrived at Pusan where Vice Admiral Shon
the ROK Chief of Naval Operations; United States Ambassador J. J. Muccio; and Rear Admiral Scott-Montcrief
Task Group 95.12
visited the battleship. Departi
ng that South Korean port the following day
Wisconsin reached Yokosuka on 2 March. A week later
she shifted to Sasebo to prepare to return to Korean waters.
Wisconsin arrived off Songjin
on 15 March 1952 and concentrated her gunfire on enemy railway transport. Early that morning
she destroyed a communist troop train trapped outside of a destroyed tunnel. That afternoon
she received the first
direct hit in
when one of four shells from a communist 155-millimeter gun battery struck the shield of a starboard 40-millimeter mount. Although little material damage resulted
three men were injured. Almost as if the victim of a personal a
Wisconsin subsequently blasted that battery to oblivion with a 16-inch salvo before continuing her mission. After lending a hand to support once more the 1st Marine Division with her heavy rifles
the battleship returned to Japan on 19 Marc
Relieved as flagship of the 7th Fleet on 1 April by sistership Iowa (BB-61)
Wisconsin departed Yokosuka
bound for the United States. En route home
she touched briefly at Guam
where she took part in the successful test of the Navy's large
st floating dry-dock on 4 and 5 April
marking the first time that an Iowa-class battleship had ever utilized that type of facility. She continued her homeward-bound voyage
via Pearl Harbor
and arrived at Long Beach
on l9 April
sailed for the east coast; her destination: Norfolk.
Early in June 1962
Wisconsin resumed her role as a training ship
taking midshipmen to Greenock
France; and Guantanamo Bay
before returning to Norfolk. She departed Hampton Roads on 25 August and participated in a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) exercise
Operation "Mainbrace" which commenced at Greenock and extended as far n
orth as Oslo
Norway. After her return to Norfolk
Wisconsin underwent an overhaul in the naval shipyard there. She then engaged in local training evolutions until 11 February 1953
when she sailed for Cuban waters for refresher training. She visit
and New York City before returning to Norfolk late in April.
Following another midshipman's training cruise to Rio de Janeiro
Trinidad; and Guantanamo Bay
Wisconsin put into the Norfolk Naval Shipyard on 4 August for a brief overhaul. A little over a month later
upon conclusion of t
hat period of repairs and alterations
the battleship departed Norfolk on 9 September
bound for the Far East.
Sailing via the Panama Canal to Japan
Wisconsin relieved New Jersey (BB-62) as 7th Fleet flagship on 12 October. During the months that followed
Wisconsin visited the Japanese ports of Kobe
and Nagasaki. Sh
e spent Christmas at Hong Kong and was ultimately relieved of flagship duties on 1 April 1954 and returned to the United States soon thereafter
via Long Beach and the Panama Canal
on 4 May 1954.
Entering the Norfolk Naval Shipyard on 11 June
Wisconsin underwent a brief overhaul and commenced a midshipman training cruise on 12 July. After revisiting Greenock
and Guantanamo Bay
the ship returned to the Norfolk Naval Shipyard for re
pairs. Shortly thereafter
Wisconsin participated in Atlantic Fleet exercises as flagship for Commander
2d Fleet. Departing Norfolk in January 1955
Wisconsin took part in operation "Springboard
" during which time she visited Port-au-Princ
upon returning to Norfolk
the battleship conducted another midshipman's cruise that summer
visiting Edinburgh; Copenhagen
Denmark; and Guantanamo Bay before returning to the United States.
Upon completion of a major overhaul at the New York Naval Shipyard
Wisconsin headed south for refresher training in the Caribbean
later taking part in another "Springboard" exercise. During that cruise
she again visited Port-au-Prince and added
to her list of ports of call. She returned to Norfolk on the last day of March 1955 for local operations.
Throughout April and into May
Wisconsin operated locally off the Virginia capes. On 6 May
the battleship collided with the destroyer Eaton (DDE-510) in a heavy fog; Wisconsin put into Norfolk with extensive damage to her bow and
e week later
entered drydock at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. A novel expedient speeded her repairs and enabled the ship to carry out her scheduled midshipman training cruise that summer. A 120-ton
68-foot long section of the bow of the uncompleted battle
ship Kentucky was transported by barge
in one section
from New Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Corp.
across Hampton Roads to the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. Working round-the clock
Wisconsin's ship's force and shipya
rd personnel completed the operation which grafted the new bow on the old battleship in a mere 16 days. On 28 June 1956
the ship was ready for sea.
Embarking 700 NROTC midshipmen
representing 52 colleges and universities throughout the United States
Wisconsin departed Norfolk on 9 July
bound for Spain. Reaching Barcelona on the 20th
the battleship next called at Greenock and Guantanamo Bay
before returning to Norfolk on the last day of August. That autumn
Wisconsin participated in Atlantic Fleet exercises off the coast of the Carolinas
returning to port on 8 November 1956. Entering the Norfolk Naval Shipyard a week later
leship underwent major repairs that were not finished until 2 January 1957.
After local operations off the Virginia capes from 3 to 4 January and from the 9th to the 11th
Wisconsin departed Norfolk on the 16th
reporting to Commander
Fleet Training Group
at Guantanamo Bag. Breaking the two-starred flag of Rear Admiral H
Battleship Division 2
Wisconsin served as Admiral Crommelin's flagship during the ensuing shore bombardment practices and other exercises held off the isle of Culebra
from 2 to 4 February 1957. Sailing for
Norfolk upon completion of the training period
the battleship arrived on 7 February.
The warship conducted a brief period of local operations off Norfolk before she sailed
on 27 March
for the Mediterranean. Reaching Gibraltar on 6 April
she pushed on that day to rendezvous with TF 60 in the Aegean Sea. She then proceeded with that forc
e to Xeros Bay
arriving there on 11 April for NATO Exercise "Red Pivot."
Departing Xeros Bay on 14 April
she arrived at Naples four days later
After a week's visit-during which she was visited by Italian dignitaries-Wisconsin conducted exercises in the eastern Mediterranean. In the course of those operational training
she rescued a pilot and crewman who survived the crash of a plane from the carrier Forrestal (CVA-59). Two days later
Vice Admiral Charles R. Brown
came on board for an official visit by high-line and departed v
ia the same method that day. Wisconsin reached Valencia
on 10 May and
three days later
entertained prominent civilian and military officials of the city.
Departing Valencia on the 17th
Wisconsin reached Norfolk on 27 May. On that day
Rear Admiral L. S. Parks relieved Rear Admiral Crommelin as Commander
Battleship Division 2. Departing Norfolk on 19 June
over the ensuing weeks
nducted a midshipman training cruise through the Panama Canal to South American waters. She transited the canal on 26 June; crossed the equator on the following day; and reached Valparaiso
on 3 July. Eight days later
the battleship headed back to
the Panama Canal and the Atlantic.
After exercises at Guantanamo Bay and off Culebra
Wisconsin reached Norfolk on 5 August and conducted local operations that lasted into September. She then participated in NATO exercises which took her across the North Atlantic to the British Isle
s. She arrived in the Clyde on 14 September and subsequently visited Brest
before returning to Norfolk on 22 October.
Wisconsin's days as an active fleet unit were numbered
and she prepared to make her last cruise. On 4 November 1957
she departed Norfolk with a large group of prominent guests on board. Reaching New York City on 6 November
the battleship disemba
rked her guests and
on the 8th
headed for Bayonne
to commence pre-inactivation overhaul.
Placed out of commission at Bayonne on 8 March 1958
Wisconsin joined the "Mothball Fleet" there
leaving the United States Navy without an active battleship for the first time since 1896. Subsequently taken to the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard
isconsin remained there with her sistership Iowa into 1981.
Wisconsin earned five battle stars for her World War II service and one for Korea.
[Note: The above USS WISCONSIN (BB-64) history may or may not contain text provided by crew members of the USS WISCONSIN (BB-64) or by other non-crew members and text from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships]