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USS New Jersey (BB-62) is an Iowa-class battleship, and was the second ship of the United States Navy to be named after the US state of New Jersey. She was often referred to fondly as "Big J". New Jersey earned more battle stars for combat actions than the other three completed Iowa-class battleships, and was the only US battleship providing gunfire support during the Vietnam War.
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During World War II, New Jersey shelled targets on Guam and Okinawa, and screened aircraft carriers conducting raids in the Marshall Islands. During the Korean War, she was involved in raids up and down the North Korean coast, after which she was decommissioned into the United States Navy reserve fleets, better known as the "mothball fleet". She was briefly reactivated in 1968 and sent to Vietnam to support US troops before returning to the mothball fleet in 1969. Reactivated once more in the 1980s as part of the 600-ship Navy program, New Jersey was modernized to carry missiles and recommissioned for service. In 1983, she participated in US operations during the Lebanese Civil War.
New Jersey was directly engaged in the conquest of Okinawa from 14 March until 16 April. As the carriers prepared for the invasion with strikes there and on Honshū, New Jersey fought off air raids, used her seaplanes to rescue downed pilots, defended the carriers from suicide planes, shooting down at least three and assisting in the destruction of others. On 24 March 1945 she again carried out the role of heavy bombardment, preparing the invasion beaches for the assault a week later. During the final months of the war, New Jersey was overhauled at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, from which she sailed 4 July for San Pedro, Pearl Harbor, and Eniwetok bound for Guam. Here on 14 August she once again became flagship of the 5th Fleet under Admiral Spruance. Brief stays at Manila and Okinawa preceded her arrival in Tokyo Bay 17 September, where she served as flagship for the successive commanders of Naval Forces in Japanese waters until relieved 28 January 1946 by Iowa (BB-61). As part of the ongoing Operation Magic Carpet New Jersey took aboard nearly a thousand homeward-bound troops, with whom she arrived at San Francisco 10 February.
Between 23 and 27 May and again 30 May 1951, New Jersey pounded targets near Yangyang and Kansong, dispersing troop concentrations, dropping a bridge span, and destroying three large ammunition dumps. Air spotters reported Yangyang abandoned at the end of this action, while railroad facilities and vehicles were smashed at Kansong. On 24 May, she lost one of her helicopters after the crew pushed their chopper to the limit of its fuel searching for a downed aviator. The helicopter crew was able to reach friendly territory and were later returned to their ship.
With Admiral Arthur W. Radford, Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet, and Vice Admiral C. Turner Joy, Commander Naval Forces Far East aboard, New Jersey bombarded targets at Wonsan 4 June. At Kansong two days later she fired her main battery at an artillery regiment and truck encampment, with 7th Fleet aircraft spotting targets and reporting successes. On 28 July off Wonsan the battleship was again taken under fire by shore batteries. Several near misses splashed to port, but New Jersey's precision fire silenced the enemy and destroyed several gun emplacements. Between 4 and 12 July, New Jersey supported a United Nations push in the Kansong area, firing at enemy buildup and reorganization positions. As the Republic of Korea's First Division hurled itself on the enemy, shore fire control observers saw New Jersey's salvos hit directly on enemy mortar emplacements, supply and ammunition dumps, and personnel concentrations. New Jersey returned to Wonsan 18 July for an exhibition of perfect firing: five gun emplacements demolished with five direct hits.
New Jersey sailed to the aid of troops of the Republic of Korea once more 17 August, returning to the Kansong area where for four days she provided harassing fire by night, and broke up counterattacks by day, inflicting a heavy toll on enemy troops. She returned to this general area yet again 29 August, when she fired in an amphibious demonstration staged behind enemy lines to ease pressure on the Republic of Korea's troops. The next day she started a three-day saturation of the Changjon area, with one of her own helicopters spotting the results: four buildings destroyed, road junctions smashed, railroad marshaling yards afire, tracks cut and uprooted, coal stocks scattered, and many buildings and warehouses set blazing.
Between 1 and 6 October New Jersey was in action daily at Kansong, Hamhung, Hungnam, Tanchon, and Songjin. Enemy bunkers and supply concentrations provided the majority of the targets at Kansong; at the others New Jersey fired on railroads, tunnels, bridges, an oil refinery, trains, and shore batteries. She also engaged an enemy gun emplacement with her five-inch (127 mm) gun mounts, which New Jersey successfully destroyed. The Kojo area was her target 16 October as she sailed in company with HMS Belfast, pilots from HMAS Sydney spotting. The operation was well-planned and coordinated, and excellent results were obtained. Another highly satisfactory day was 16 October, when the spotter over the Kansong area reported "beautiful shooting every shot on target-most beautiful shooting I have seen in five years." This five-hour bombardment leveled ten artillery positions, and in smashing trenches and bunkers inflicted some 500 enemy casualties.
Relieved as flagship at Yokosuka by Wisconsin 14 October, New Jersey was homeward bound the next day, reaching Norfolk on 14 November. During the next two summers she crossed the Atlantic with midshipmen on board for training, and during the rest of the year sharpened her skills with exercises and training maneuvers along the Atlantic coast and in the Caribbean. New Jersey stood out of Norfolk 7 September 1955 for her first tour of duty with the United States Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean. Her ports of call included Gibraltar, Valencia, Cannes, Istanbul, Souda Bay; and Barcelona. She returned to Norfolk 7 January 1956 for the spring program of training operations. That summer she again carried midshipmen to Northern Europe for training, bringing them home to Annapolis 31 July. New Jersey sailed for Europe once more 27 August as flagship of Vice Admiral Charles Wellborn Jr., Commander United States Second Fleet. She called at Lisbon, participated in NATO exercises off Scotland, and paid an official visit to Norway where Crown Prince Olav was a guest. She returned to Norfolk 15 October, and 14 December arrived at New York Naval Shipyard for inactivation. She was decommissioned and placed in reserve at Bayonne 21 August 1957.
Departing Long Beach 2 September, New Jersey touched at Pearl Harbor and Subic Bay before sailing 25 September for her first tour on the gun line along the Vietnamese coast. Near the 17th parallel on 30 September, the battleship fired her first shots in battle in over sixteen years, expending a total of 29 sixteen inch rounds against People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) targets in and near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) at the 17th parallel. New Jersey took up station off Tiger Island 1 October and fired at targets north of the DMZ before moving south that afternoon to engage Viet Cong targets. She accounted for six bunkers, a supply truck and an anti-aircraft site that day; additionally, she helped rescue the crew of a Marine spotting plane forced down at sea by anti-aircraft fire. On 3 October New Jersey fired on targets south of Tiger Island, and on 4 October the battleship fired on a Communist troop concentration and destroyed several bunkers. On the evening of 7 October New Jersey received reports that a number of waterborne logistics craft were moving south near the mouth of the Song Giang River. New Jersey responded by closing on the formation, and succeeded in sinking eleven of the craft before they could beach.
On 11 October New Jersey engaged a coastal installation with her guns; however, she shifted her fire when a recon plane spotting for the battleship reported an enemy truck concentration north of Nha Ky. New Jersey gunners quickly retrained the battleship's big guns and managed to inflict heavy damage on six of the vehicles. Early on the morning of 12 October New Jersey trained her guns in anticipation of shelling the heavily fortified and well protected Vinh caves. For the next three days New Jersey pounded the area with her 16 in shells in an effort to eliminate the Viet Cong presence in the region. Aided by spotter aircraft from the aircraft carrier USS America, New Jersey engaged enemy targets, setting several enemy positions on fire and sealing one cave. On 14 October New Jersey shifted her gunfire to the coastal artillery sites on Hon Matt Island, destroying one battery on the island.
On the night of 23 October New Jersey steamed north to rearm before taking up position in support of the 3rd Marine Division 25 October. That day she shelled enemy troops located by a spotter plane. The next day New Jersey engaged targets of opportunity, destroying 11 structures, seven bunkers, a concrete observation tower, and an enemy trench line. She also received hostile fire when North Vietnamese gunners attempted to strike at New Jersey with artillery positioned near Cap Lay. Some ten to twelve rounds were launched at New Jersey; however, the rounds fired landed well short of the battleship. Aerial spotters were called in to look at the suspected gun position; they reported no artillery present but fresh tire tracks leading to a concealed area, suggesting that there had been artillery there earlier. Armed with this information New Jersey fired five 16 inch shells at the site, but in the darkness spotters were unable to confirm any hits. 350c69d7ab