USS Iowa (BB-61)

Iowa fires her 16" guns in 1984, after her modernization. US Navy photo.

Ship Class
Ship Type
Laid Down

The lead ship of what would prove to be the final class of American battleships, USS Iowa commissioned 22 February, 1943, and initially saw service in the Atlantic. In November, 1943, she was chosen to carry President Roosevelt to Algeria, en route to the Tehran Conference with Churchill and Stalin. After returning him to the US the following month, Iowa headed for the Pacific, where she joined the fast carriers task forces in operations against Japan. On 19 February, she had the only surface engagement of her career, when she sank the light cruiser Katori. Iowa shot down four aircraft during the Battle of the Philippine Sea in June, and was committed to the Philippines campaign in October. She and other battleships were unleashed to chase down the Japanese carriers and attack with their guns, but the reappearance of the Japanese battleships off Samar cancelled the attack. Iowa was caught in Typhoon Cobra in December, and badly damaged, requiring several months of repairs. In addition, the opportunity was taken to update her fire control systems and install new radars. Iowa supported the conquest of Okinawa, and then the attacks on Japan, before attending the surrender ceremony in Tokyo Bay, and participating in Operation Magic Carpet. Decommissioned in 1949, Iowa was reactivated in 1951 for service in Korea, operating off the peninsula from April to October, 1952. She returned to training duty before being mothballed in 1958. The entire class was modernized and recommissioned in the early 1980s, and Iowa joined in NATO exercises and escorted tankers in the Persian Gulf during the Iran-Iraq War. In 1986, Iowa was found to be in need of repairs, particularly in her engines, but she was not taken out of service for the repairs. Iowa suffered an explosion in her number 2 16" gun turret, that killed forty-seven crew. Iowa was decommissioned in 1990, and mothballed again, but was kept in a ready condition for another fifteen years. She was struck from the Navy list in 2006, and is now a museum ship in Los Angeles.

Bonus Information

Fun Fact: The Iowa class were known to be quite nimble for their size. Iowa demonstrated this on 14 November, 1943, when her escorting destroyer, USS William D. Porter, accidentally launched a live torpedo at Iowa during a simulated torpedo attack. Iowa dodged at the last minute, while President Roosevelt insisted on being wheeled on deck to watch the torpedo pass the ship.