USS New Jersey (BB-62)

USS New Jersey (BB-62) was an Iowa class fast battleship that fought in the Pacific during the Second World War, and as a shore bombardment ship during the Korean and Vietnamese Wars, before being reactivated for a final time in the 1980s.

The New Jersey was laid down in September 1940, launched in December 1942 and commissioned on 23 May 1943. Her shakedown cruise was in the western Atlantic and the Caribbean, before she headed into the Pacific at the start of January 1944.

The New Jersey's combat debut came during Operation Flintlock, the invasion of the Marshal Islands (29 January 1944). She operated alongside the Iowa as part of TG58.3, providing an escort for the carriers Bunker Hill, Monterey and Cowpens.

On 17-18 February 1944 six of the fast battleships supported a raid on Truk. The New Jersey served as Admiral Spruance's flagship during this raid, and was part of TG50.9, alongside the Iowa.

On 18 March New Jersey and Iowa supported the carrier Lexington during a bombardment of Mille Atoll, south of Majuro.

On 1 May New Jersey, Iowa, Alabama, Massachusetts, North Carolina, South Dakota and Indiana bombarded Ponape in the Caroline Islands.

Seven of the fast battleships took part in the Battle of the Philippine Sea (June 1944). New Jersey, Iowa, Alabama, Washington, North Carolina, South Dakota and Indiana were all part of TG58.7 (Admiral Lee). They were to bombard the Mariana Islands, and guard against any Japanese surface threat, but the battle was entirely aerial, and this powerful battleship fleet was limited to anti-aircraft fire.

In September-October 1943 the fast battleships New Jersey, Iowa, Alabama, Washington, Massachusetts and Indianaformed part of Task Force 38, and took part in Halsey's raids on targets around the Philippine Sea. Iowa and New Jerseyformed TG38.2, with New Jersey serving as Halsey's flagship. Amongst the targets were Palau (6-8 September), Mindinao (10 September), the Visayas (12-14 September) and Luzon (21-22 September). The Japanese response was so weak that the Americans moved the invasion of the Philippines from December to 20 October, skipped the southern Philippines and began with an invasion of Leyte.

Part of the preparation for this invasion was a series of raids on Okinawa (10 October), Luzon (11 October and 15 October) and Formosa (12-14 October). The Japanese lost over 600 aircraft in the resulting battle off Formosa (12-16 October 1944), crippling their air power just when they needed it most.

The Japanese decided to try and inflict a heavy defeat on the Americans off Leyte (Battle of Leyte Gulf, 23-26 October 1944). The aim was to use their almost empty carriers to distract the main American fleet, while Admiral Kurita's battleships approached from the west to attack the American invasion fleet. New Jersey had a frustrating time during this battle, She was paired with the Iowa in TG38.2, and was used to protect Halsey's carriers. When the Japanese carriers were detected late on 24 October Halsey sent his six fast battleships north on a dash towards them. This meant that they were too far north to intervene when Admiral Kurita's fleet broke through the San Bernardino Strait and attacked a group of US escort carrier (Battle of the Samar Sea). At 10.55am on 25 October Halsey ordered his fast battleships to rush south. Despite his best efforts Admiral Lee, commanding the battleships, wasn't able to reach the area in time. Kurita retreated through the strait at 10pm on 25 October and the fast battleships didn't arrive until 1am on the following day.

In January 1945 the New Jersey and the newly arrived Wisconsin, were sent towards Cam Ranh Bay in an attempt to find some Japanese capital ships reported to be sheltering there. The raid was cancelled on 12 January 1945 after aerial reconnaissance proved that the bay was empty. In February she supported the attack on Iwo Jima, and towards the end of the month she protected the carriers during the first carrier raid on Tokyo on 25 February 1945. In March-April she took part in the fighting on Okinawa, carrying out direct shore bombardment on 24 March and protecting the carriers from air attack for most of the battle. She then began an refit at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard which meant that she missed the rest of the war.

The New Jersey was decommissioned in 1948, but was re-commissioned during 1951 and used for shore bombardment during the Korean War. She was decommissioned again in the mid-1950s, but was modernized and re-commissioned for use off Vietnam on 8 April 1968. Once again her big guns were effective, but she was seen by some as being too effective, risking triggering direct intervention by the USSR or China, and she was withdrawn and placed back into reserve on 17 December 1969.

The New Jersey spent the next decade in mothballs, but President Reagan decided to modernise all four of the Iowa class ships and use them for shore bombardment. The New Jersey was officially re-commissioned on 28 December 1982. During 1983 she appeared off the coasts of Nicaragua and the Lebanon. She was used to support the US Marines then forming part of a UN peacekeeping force in the Lebanon, firing her 16in guns in anger for the first time since Vietnam on 14 December 1983. She took part in a second bigger bombardment on 8 February 1984, firing nearly 300 shots.

The New Jersey was decommissioned for the final time in February 1991 after twenty years of active service spread over four periods in service. That made her the longest serving of any of the Iowa class ships (although the Missouri and the Wisconsin remained in service to a later date they had served for shorter periods earlier in their careers). The New Jersey is now a museum ship at Camden, New Jersey.

Displacement (standard)

48,110t

Displacement (loaded)

57,540t

Top Speed

32.5kts

Range

15,000nm at 15kts

Armour – belt

12.1in on 0.875in STS

 - lower belt

12.1in-1.6in on 0.875in STS

 - armour deck

6in with 1.5in weather deck and 0.625in splinter deck

 - bulkheads

11.3in

 - barbettes

11.6in-17.3in

 - turrets

19.7in face, 7.25in roof, 9.5in side, 12.0in rear

 - CT

17.5in, 7.25in roof

Length

887ft 3in

Width

108ft 2in

Armaments

Nine 16in/50 guns
Twenty 5in/38 guns in ten turrets
Eighty 40mm guns in quad mounts
Forty nine 20mm guns
3 aircraft

Crew complement

1921

Ships in Class

Fate

Laid Down

19 September 1940

Launched

7 December 1942

Commissioned

23 May 1943

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (26 September 2014), USS New Jersey (BB-62) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_USS_New_Jersey_BB62.html

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