USS New Jersey (BB-62)

New Jersey firing all main guns at different targets during exercises in December, 1986. US Navy photo.

Laid Down

The USS New Jersey (BB-62) is the second of the Iowa-class fast battleships. Laid down in 1940, the Big J launched on 7 December, 1942, and commissioned 23 May, 1943. During World War II, she provided gunfire support for shore landings and escorted the fast carrier task forces, flying the flags of both Admiral Spruance and Admiral Halsey. In 1947, New Jersey returned to the Atlantic, and conducted training cruises for midshipman, and received the King of Norway on 2 July. New Jersey decommissioned and joined the reserve fleet on 30 June, 1948, but recommissioned on 21 November, 1950, for service in the Korean War. After the cease-fire, New Jersey conducted more training cruises, and did a tour of duty with the Mediterranean fleet, before she was decommissioned and mothballed again 21 August, 1957. This time she slept for ten years before she was brought out of retirement in August, 1967. For gunfire support in Vietnam, New Jersey received upgrades to her radar and electronics, and deployed in September, 1968. Between 25 September, and 1 April, 1969, the Black Dragon fired 5,688 16-inch, and 14,891 5-inch shells on North Vietnamese targets. She headed home, but was redeployed in response to the North Koreans shooting down a US recon plane in the Sea of Japan. New Jersey returned to the US in May, and was ordered inactivated that August. Decommissioning for the third time, New Jersey spent the next twelve years in mothballs until she was picked for reactivation, along with her sisters, as a part of Reagan's 600-ship Navy. Recommissioned on 28 December, 1982, New Jersey was dispatched to Lebanon in August, 1983, to the delight of the Marines stationed there. Her mere presence is credited with reducing attacks on the Marines. New Jersey returned to the Pacific, and formed her own Battle Group, no carriers included, in 1986. From May to October that year, she was the only major US warship in southeast Asia. New Jersey returned to the US in February, 1990, and decommissioned on 8 February, 1991. She was maintained in reserve until 1995, when she was struck from the Navy Register, but returned to reserve status the next year, and remained there until January, 1999, when she was again removed. New Jersey was moored in Camden, New Jersey, in October, 2000, as a permanent museum.