USS Iowa (BB 61)

The third Iowa (BB-61) was laid down at New York Navy Yard, 27 June 1940; launched 27 August 1942; sponsored by Mrs. Henry A. Wallace, wife of Vice President Wallace, and commissioned 22 February 1943, Capt, John L. McCrea in command.
On 24 February, Iowa put to sea for shakedown in Chesapeake Bay and along the Atlantic Coast. She got underway, 27 August for Argentia, Newfoundland to neutralize the threat of German Battleship Tirpitz which was reportedly operating in Norwegian waters.
In the fall, Iowa carried President Franklin D. Roosevelt to Casablanca, French Morocco on the first leg of his journey to the Teheran Conference in November. After the conference she returned that President to the United States.
As Flagship of Battleship Division 7, Iowa departed the United States 2 January 1944 for the Pacific Theatre and her combat debut in the campaign for the Marshalls. From 29 January to 3 February, she supported carrier air strikes made by Rear Admiral Frederick C. Sherman's task Group against Kwajalein and Eniwetok Attols in the Marshall Islands. Her next assignment was to support air strikes against the Japanese Naval base at Truk, Caroline Islands. Iowa, in company with other ships, was detached from the support group 16 February, 1944 to conduct an anti-shipping sweep around Truk to destroy enemy naval vessels escaping to the north. On 21 February, she was underway with Fast Carrier Task Force 58 while it conducted the fast strikes against Saipan, Tinian, Rota, and Guam in the Marianas.
On 18 March, Iowa, flying the flag of Vice Admiral Willis A. Lee, Commander Battleships, Pacific, joined in the bombardment of Mili Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Although struck by two Japanese 4.7' projectiles during the action, Iowa suffered negligible damage. She then rejoined Task Force 58, 30 March, and supported air strikes against the Palau Islands and Woleai of the Carolinas which continued for several days.
From 22 to 28 April 1944, Iowa supported air raids on Hollandia, Aitape, and Wakde Islands to support Army forces on Aitape, Tanahmerah Bay, and Humboldt Bay in New Guinea. She then joined the Task Force's second strike on Truk, 29-30 April, and bombarded Japanese facilities on Ponape in the Carolinas, 1 May.
In the opening phases of the Marianas campaign, Iowa protected the flattops during air strikes on the islands of Saipan, Tinian, Guam, Rota, and Pagan, 12 June, in an engagement known as the Battle of the Philippine Sea, Iowa helped repel four massive air raids launched by the Japanese Middle Flit. This resulted in the almost complete destruction of Japanese carrier - based aircraft. Iowa then joined in the pursuit of the fleeing enemy Fleet, shooting down one torpedo plane and assisting in splashing another.
Throughout July, Iowa remained off the Marianas supporting air strikes on the Palaus and landings on Guam. After a month's rest, Iowa sortied from Eniwetok as part of the 3d Fleet.=, and helped support the landings on Peleliu, 17 September. She then protected the carriers during air strikes against the Central Philippines to neutralize enemy air power for the long awaited invasion of the Philippines. On 10 October, Iowa arrived off Okinawa for a series of air strikes on the Ryukyus and Formosa. She then sup0ported air strikes against Luzon, 18 October and continued this vital duty during general macArthur's landing on Leyte 20 October.
In a last ditch attempt to halt the United States campaign to recapture the Philippines, the Japanese Navy struck back with a three -p pronged attack in Leyte Gulf. Iowa accompanied TF-38 during attacks against the Japanese Central Force as it steamed through the Sibuyan Sea toward San Bernardino Strait. The reported results of these attacks and the apparent retreat of the Japanese Central Force led Admiral Halsey to believe that this force had been ruined as an effective fighting group. Iowa, with Task Force 38, steamed after the Japanese Northern Force off Cape Engano, Luzon. On 25 October 1944, when the ships of the Northern Force were almost within range of Iowa's guns, word arrived that the Japanese Central Force was attacking a group of American escort carriers off Samar. This threat to the American beachheads forced her to reverse course and steam to support the vulnerable "baby carriers." However, the valiant fight put up by the escort carriers and their screen had already caused the Japanese to retire and Iowa was denied a surface action. Following the Battle for Leyte Gulf, Iowa remained in the waters off the Philippines screening carriers during strikes against Luzon and Formosa. She sailed for the West Coast late in December 1944.
Iowa arrived San Francisco, 15 January 1945, for overhaul. She sailed 19 March 1945 for Okinawa, arriving 15 April 1945. Commencing 24 April 1945, Iowa supported carrier operations which assured American troops vital air superiority during their struggle for that bitterly contested island. She then supported air strikes off southern Kyusyhu from 25 May to 13 June 1945. Iowa participated in strikes on the Japanese homeland 14-15 July and bombarded Muroran, Hokkaido, destroying steel mills and other targets. The city of Hitachi on Honshu was given the same treatment on the night of 17-18 July 1945. Iowa continued to support fast carrier strikes until the cessation of hostilities, 15 August 1945.
Iowa entered Tokyo Bay with the occupation forces, 29 August 1945. After serving as Admiral William F. Halsey's flagship for the surrender ceremony, 2 September 1945, Iowa departed Tokyo Bay 20 September 1945 for the United States.
Arriving Seattle, Washington, 15 October 1945, Iowa returned to Japanese waters in January 1946 and became flagship of the 5th Fleet. She continued this role until she sailed for the United States 25 March 1946. From that time on, until September 1948, Iowa operated from West Coast ports, on Naval Reserve and at sea training and drills and maneuvers with the Fleet. Iowa decommissioned 24 March 1949. After Communist aggression in Korea necessitated an expansion of the active fleet, Iowa recommissioned 25 August 1951, Captain William R. Smedberg III in command. She operated off the West Coast until March 1952, when she sailed for the Far East. On 1 April 1952, Iowa became the flagship of Vice Admiral Robert T. Briscoe, Commander, 7th Fleet, and departed Yokosuka, Japan to support United Nations Forces in Korea. From 8 April to 16 October 1952, Iowa was involved in combat operations off the East Coast of Korea. Her primary mission was to aid ground troops, by bombarding enemy targets at Songjin, Hungnam, and Kojo, North Korea. During this time, Admiral Briscoe was relieved as Commander, 7th Fleet. Vice Admiral J. J. Clark, the new commander, continued to use Iowa as his flagship until 17 October 1952. Iowa departed Yokosuka, Japan 19 October 1952 for overhaul at Norfolk and training operations in the Caribbean Sea.
Iowa embarked midshipmen for at sea training to Northern Europe, July 1953, and immediately after took part in Operation"Mariner," a major NATO exercise, serving as flagship of Vice Admiral E. T. Woolfidge, commanding the 2d Fleet. Upon completion of this exercise, until the fall of 1954, Iowa operated in the Virginia Capes area. In September 1945, she became the flagship of Rear Admiral R. E. Libby, Commander, Battleship Cruiser Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet.
From January to April 1955, Iowa made an extended cruise to the Mediterranean as the first battleship regularly assigned to Commander, 6th Fleet. Iowa departed on a midshipman training cruise 1 June 1955 and upon her return, she entered Norfolk for a 4-month overhaul. Following refit, Iowa continued intermittent training cruises and operational exercises, until 4 January 1957 when she departed Norfolk for duty with the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean. Upon completion of this deployment, Iowa embarked midshipmen for a South American training cruise and joined in the International Naval Review off Hampton Roads, Virginia, 13 June 1957.
On 3 September 1957, Iowa sailed for Scotland for NATO Operation "Strikeback." She returned to Norfolk, 28 September 1957 and departed Hampton Roads for the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, 22 October 1957. She decommissioned 24 February 1958 and entered the Atlantic Reserve Fleet at Philadelphia where she remained until September of 1982 when she was towed to the Avondale Shipyard, Inc., New Orleans, for modernization and reactivation. She was subsequently towed to Ingalls Shipbuilding, Pascagoula, Mississippi for final reactivation preparations.
Iowa was recommissioned on 28 April 1984, Captain Gerald E. Gneckow in command. Two days later she was underway to Autec Range for Naval Gunfire Support training and in May she spent two weeks in refresher training at Guantanamo Bay. On the 21st, off Vieques Island, Puerto Rico, Iowa's 16-inch and 5-inch batteries underwent NGFS qualification. During the remainder of 1984 Iowa provided a "Naval Presence" in the Central Americas and Caribbean, participated in another round of gunnery exercises off Vieques Island and operated in Pacific waters. She arrived at Norfolk 17 September and in October spent a week visiting New York before participating in COMPUTEX 1-85 in Puerto Rican Operations and finally ended the year in port at Norfolk.
Iowa underwent her Sea Trials in January of 1985 and subsequently was underway for deployment in Central America. She completed several civic action and humanitarian projects in Costa Rica and Honduras and participated in encounter exercises with Battleship Surface Action Group.
In March Iowa operated out of Norfolk while engaged in Battle Force integrated training and post-shakedown availability training followed by the offloading of ammunition at Yorktown's Naval Weapons Station and on 26 April she was drydocked at Norfolk Navy Yard, Portsmouth, Virginia.
Out of drydock 31 July 1985, Iowa loaded ammunition while at Whiskey Island Anchorage in Hampton Roads. This was followed by a demonstration of her Tomahawk Handling system, then ten days of sea trials and ammunition onload at Yorktown. On 22 August she received the Battenburg Cup Award as best all-around ship in the Atlantic Fleet (for 1984). During the latter part of the year she participated in Ocean Safari followed by Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 85 with Iowa in port at Kiel, West Germany at operations end. Underway for Norfolk 26 October, she arrived 5 November and began preparations for INSURV/UMI and final contract trials.
From November 1985 to March 1986, Iowa operated as a peaceful presence off Central America where she supported countries friendly to the United States. In July Captain Larry Seaquist took command of Iowa and on the 4th she carried President Ronald Reagan, and wife Nancy, for the Liberty Weekend's International Naval Review in the Hudson River.
August found the battleship underway along the coast of Florida and the Gulf of Mexico where she conducted operational and training exercises until underway on the 17th for NATO Operation Northern Wedding which took place in September after which she visited Portsmouth, England and Bremerhaven, West Germany. Iowa finally departed for the United States on 2 October. On 9 December she was again underway for seatrials off the Virginia Capes, where her first launch, flight and recovery of a Pioneer RPV was made.
Iowa departed Norfolk en route to the Caribbean on 9 January 1987 and on the 10th participated in exercise BLASTEX 1-87. She arrived in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for Operational Readiness Inspection on 11 February and departed 13 February en route for gunnery exercises at Vieques Island, Puerto Rico. Iowa returned to Norfolk on 26 February where she was subsequently placed on restricted availability. In March she participated in independent ship exercises until returned to the status of restricted availability on the 30th.
On April 25 Iowa departed Norfolk en route to the Caribbean where she conducted SACEX starting 4 May in the Puerto Rican operations area. In Late may she again exercised independently until her participation starting 8 July in FLEETEX 3-87, local of the Western Atlantic. On 26 July she arrived at Yorktown Naval Weapons Center for loading ammunition, subsequently arriving Norfolk on the 28th where again placed in service restricted availability. September Iowa joined the 6th Fleet to participate in Exercise Display Determination which took her to Istanbul. Detaching from the 6th Fleet, she operated in the North Sea during mid-October arriving in Torndheim, Norway, 30 October. November 8 she passed through the Mediterranean, transited the Suez Canal and carried at Diego Garcia to commence Persian Gulf Presence Operations 4 December; 7 December she departed Diego Garcia for operations in the Indian Ocean and North Arabian Sea.
January 1988 found Iowa in the Gulf of Oman where operations included escorting convoys through the southern Strait of Hormuz and protecting convoy assembly areas off Masirah Island and Muscat, Oman. Transiting the Suez Canal, she arrive Norfolk 10 March and was placed in service restricted availability. Iowa participated in "Fleet Week" 21-25 April in New York City followed by off loading of ammunition at Yorktown Naval Weapons Station prior to entering Norfolk Navy Shipyard for in service restricted availability from 25 April through 23 August. Iowa closed 1988 as follows: Sea Trials in August off the Virginia Capes; visit at Port Everglades, Florida, 9-11 October; Refresher training beginning 13 October Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; Gunnery exercises at Vieques Island starting 28 November; finally arriving at Norfolk 7 December.
In January of 1989, operating with units of the standing Naval Forces, Atlantic, Iowa fired the longest 16-inch round in history at Vieques Island. The projectile traveled 23.4 nautical miles for a first round hit on target.
After visit 5-9 February in New Orleans, Iowa arrived at Norfolk 16 March where on 10 April she Embarked the Commander, Second Fleet, and was underway by the 13th for FLEETEX 3-89 where on the 19th an explosion within Turret Two killed 47 crewmen; She returned to Norfolk, arriving 22 April.
On 30 May through 2 June Iowa loaded Ammunition at Whisky Island and by 7 June was underway for Norther Europe and the Mediterranean. During this deployment, Iowa traveled 30,8983 nautical miles and crossed eight time zones. Port visits included: Kiel, West Germany; Portsmouth, England; Rota, Spain; Casablanca, Morocco; Gibraltar; Marseille, France; Antalya, Turkey; Gaeta, Italy; Istanbul, Turkey; Haifa, Israel; Alexandria, Egypt; Ajaccio, Corsica; Augusta Bay, Sicily; Naples, Italy; and Palma, Mallorca. September Iowa participated in Exercise Display Determination for 1989 and, en route to Norfolk on 26 November, she fired here last 16-inch round giving a total of 2,873 rounds fired since the 1984 recommissioning making her total 11,834 16-inch rounds fired. Iowa arrived Norfolk 7 December.
A memorial plaque was unveiled on 4 January for the men who lost their lives during the April 1989 Turret Two explosion and it was subsequently dedicated during a memorial service 19 April.
Iowa was placed in service restricted availability 16 January, 20 February she underwent Nuclear Weapons Closeout Inspection and 25 May her Marine Detachment was deactivated. She embarked Midshipmen for a summer training cruise and was finally decommissioned on 26 October 1990. On 24 September 1998 Iowa became part of the Reserve Fleet, berthed at the Naval Education and Training Center in Newport, Rhode Island.
For information on the efforts to preserve the Iowa as a monument please visit the USS Iowa (BB-61) Veteran's Association at

Iowa earned nine battle stars for World War II service and two for Korean service.  


Length Overall: 887'3"
Extreme Beam: 108'2"
Normal Displacement:
Tons: 45,000
Mean Draft: 28'11"
Designed Complement:
Officers: 117
Enlisted: 1,804
Catapults: (2) aft.
Belt: 12.125"
Turrets: 17"
Main: 1.5
2nd: 6"
3rd: .625"
Conning Tower: 17.25"
Designed Speed: 33
Designed Shaft Horsepower: 212,000
Manufacturer: GE.
Type: Turbine, geared drive
Screws: 4

Manufacturer: FW
No.: 8
Fuel :
Fuel Oil: 7,073 Tons
Drive: TRD
Class: Iowa

(9) 16"/50
(20) 5"/38 AA
(60) 20 mm.
(15) quad 40 mm.
Torpedo Tubes: none [Reference]

Radio station: At the end of events associated with the Pacific War, His Majesty Hirohito, the Showa Emperor of Japan, announced on radio on August 15 1945 that the war was over. The Peace Ceremony was signed on board the navy vessel "Missouri" nearly three weeks later, on September 2. The role that radio played in these events forms an important and interesting chapter in international radio history.

At the time of the signing ceremony on the aircraft carrier "Missouri", there were 260 Allied navy vessels at anchor in Tokyo Bay. The "Missouri" itself lay at anchor eighteen miles out in the bay and six miles off the coast of Yokohama. An armada of 1900 planes, airforce and navy, flew overhead.

The USS Missouri was launched in January 1944, the fourth navy vessel to bear this title. It was noted on the air in that era by shortwave listeners in the United States, New Zealand and Australia with the callsign, NCBL.

Another navy vessel, the USS Iowa, also played a major role in the relay of radio signals at the time of the historic events in Tokyo Bay. This ship, the "Iowa", was launched in August 1942, and it was often noted on air under the callsign KU1M calling KU5Q on the island of Guam.

At the time of the signing ceremony, many radio circuits were activated to ensure reliable worldwide coverage. The originating point was the main ship transmitters, NCBL, on the "Missouri". Nearby was the "Iowa" which acted as the network control for these broadcasts with its shortwave transmitters under the callsign KU1M.

The four shortwave transmitters of Radio Tokyo at Nazaki in Japan carried a relay of the broadcast for long distance coverage, which was picked up in Guam, the Philippines and Hawaii for onward relay to the receiving stations in California and elsewhere. And from there of course, the relay became a worldwide radio broadcast phenomenon.

It was on September 2, 1945, at 9:02 am local time that General Douglas MacArthur stepped before the microphone that was set up on the landing deck of the "Missouri" for this historic worldwide broadcast. His wife Jean, was still in the Philippines at the time, living in the German embassy on the edge of Manila. She heard her husband's radio broadcast on a shortwave radio.

There is only one known QSL from these ships in this era. A QSL letter was received by Ray Simpson, the shortwave columnist for the Australian magazine, "Radio & Hobbies". This letter, verifying the reception of KU1M on the "Iowa" in March 1947, was received from the radio section at navy headquarters in California. At the time, the "Iowa" was on navy manoeuvres off the coast of California and it was noted on 9670 kHz. [Story by Dr. Adrian Peterson]

Location: Tokyo Bay


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