USS New Jersey (BB-62)
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USS New Jersey (BB-62) in Camden, NJ (1942). She was the second Iowa-class fast battleship to be commissioned by the Navy. Franklin D. Roosevelt named the ship after New Jersey to repay a political debt to governor Charles Edison. Edison pushed to have the ship built at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, so that Roosevelt could secure votes in Pennsylvania and New Jersey for the 1940 election. She began her service in 1944, when she participated in the assault on the Marshall Islands with the Fast Carrier Task Force. She became flagship of the fleet under Admiral Raymond A. Spruance on February 4 and participated in Operation Hailstone, an assault on the Japanese base in the Caroline Islands. New Jersey sank the Japanese Kager-class destroyer Maikaze in the battle. After New Jersey successfully provided support for the invasion of the Mariana Islands, the Japanese decided to strike back. Submarines detected the Japanese fleet in the Philippine Sea, and New Jersey joined the protective screen for the Battle of the Philippine Sea. The battle was devastating to the Japanese, who lost around 400 planes and three of their aircraft carriers. The screening fire was so effective that only 17 American planes were lost and two ships were slightly damaged. On August 24, she was transferred to the Third Fleet and became flagship under Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr. For the next eight months she lent support to American operations in the Philippines. After some victories in the Visayas, the Japanese decided to make one last, great sortie. The Battle of Leyte Gulf became perhaps the largest naval battle in history. Halsey mistakenly followed a decoy fleet, leaving valuable ships virtually unprotected. Although Halsey eventually tried to join the unprotected fleet, by the time they had arrived, they had already repelled the Japanese in a stunning victory. The ship was transferred to Rear Admiral Oscar C. Badger II as part of Battleship Division 7 on January 27, 1945. She provided cover for the assaults on Iwo Jima and Okinawa. She participated as a transport ship for Operation Magic Carpet, bringing American military personnel home after the war. After the war, she became a training ship in northern Europe. She was inactived at the New York Naval Shipyard in 1947 and assigned to the Atlantic Reserve fleet in 1948.
New Jersey was activated from the reseves in 1950 following the invasion of South Korea by North Korea. She became the flagship of the Seventh Fleet in 1951. She bombarded many pillboxes, bunkers, ammunition dumps, and other tactical structures. After the Korean War, she was reassigned to the Sixth Fleet, resuming her role as a training ship. She was decommissioned and placed in reserve in 1957. In 1967, Robert McNamara reactivated the ship as an experiment to determine if former battleships would be of use in the Vietnam War. It was the world’s only active battleship. She provided support to several Marine Divisions, but the poor visibility prevented them from knowing if key targets were successfully hit. After the war, it became part of the task force assigned to North Korea following the EC-121 shootdown incident in 1969, though no further action was taken. She was placed in reserve later that year. It was reactivated by Ronald Reagan in 1982 as part of the plan for the 600-ship Navy. New Jersey was dispatched to Lebanon in response to the civil war there in 1983. The Americans were supposed to act as a neutral referee in the situation, but New Jersey was ordered to fire upon Druze and Shiite positions in Beirut. However, her gunpowder was not properly prepared, and she missed targets by as much as 10,000 yards. After several operational cruises after the civil war, she returned tot he US in 1990. With the collapse of the Soviet Union (the only major enemy of the US), drastic cuts were made to the US defense budget, and New Jersey was decommissioned one final time in 1991 after 20 years of service. She missed the opportunity to participate in Operation Desert Storm by one week. It was struck from the Naval Register one last time in 1998 and transformed into a museum ship. Intended to be a major tourist draw, the ship has instead become mostly forgotten. A group from Liberty State Park in northern New Jersey has been attempting to relocate the ship there.