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USS IOWA(BB-61) Detailed History

A special THANKS to BILL KELLY for researching all of this information!


1940 - 1990

Activities by Year

IOWA springs from a distinguished line of namesakes. The first IOWA, a 3,200 ton gunboat, dates back to 1864. The second, a 11,000 tonner, fired the first shot at Santiago Bay in the Spanish-American War and took the Spanish Admiral prisoner. Construction of the third IOWA was cancelled under the terms of the Washington Treaty. The present IOWA was conceived as the first of the 45,000-ton class of battleships on the drawing boards of the nations's marine and naval architects in the late 1930's.

Source Info/Accuracy Statement

Click on one of the three "Era's" below or click on a particular year to be taken to that area or use the scroll bar to look through all of IOWA's history. While browsing the "History Section" - at the bottom of each year is a link to take you back to the top of that particular ERA. At the Top of each Era there are links to other Era's and this "Quick Access" section.

World War II Era:
1940, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949

1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958

1980's Era:
1982, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990


World War II Era:

1940, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949
HISTORY MENU: Quick Access | World War II | Korean Conflict | 1980's Era
Source Info/Accuracy Statement

-June 27 Keel laid down at New York Naval Shipyard, Brooklyn. Œ

Back to World War II Era Top

August 27 Launched at New York naval Yard. Sponsored by Mrs. Henry A. Wallace, wife of the Vice President. Œ

Back to World War II Era Top

February 22 Commissioned (On Washington's Birthday) Œ

Commanding Officer Captain John L. McCrea USN Ž

February 24 To Sea for shakedown in Chesapeake Bay and along Atlantic Coast. Œ

July 9 USS IOWA completed her post shakedown overhaul. Ž

August 27 En Route to Newfoundland and the North Atlantic for her first war patrol.

Assignment, the "Tirpitz Watch" , the German battleship, thereby contributing to the neutralization of the threat presented by that warship then poised in Norwegian waters. Œ

October 25 To Norfolk Navy Yard for two weeks of maintenance in preparation for taking President Roosevelt to North Africa for Tehran Conference. Œ

November 11 En route to Mediterranean with FDR and other high-ranking members of American delegation to Casablanca and then Tehran. The Tehran Conference was with Stalin and Churchill. Œ

December 16 Completion of mission with return of FDR to United States. Œ

Back to World War II Era Top

January 2 En Route to Pacific as Flagship of Battleship Division 7, in company with USS NEW JERSEY. The USS IOWA became a charter member of the famous Pacific Fleet Task Force 58. Œ

January 7 Transit Panama Canal. Œ

January 23 First Pacific campaign in support of carrier air strikes against Kwajalein and Eniwetok Atolls. Œ

February 16 First firing of weapons in combat in attack on Japanese naval base at Truk in Caroline islands.

In action off Truk, the USS IOWA sank light cruiser Katori. Œ

March 18 First shore bombardment against Mili Atoll in Marshall Islands. The USS IOWA received her first hit when she was struck by two Japanese 4.7 projectiles, neither of which caused significant damage. Œ

March 30 In support of Task group 58, air strikes against Palau and Woleai islands, followed by further strikes against Hollandia, Aitape and Wake Islands.Œ

April 22 Supporting Army landing at Aitape, Tanahmerah and Humbolt Bays. Œ

May 1 Bombardment of airfield, bombs wharf and other enemy facilities at Ponape. Œ

June 13 Shelled Saipan and Tinian and blew up an ammunition dump. Œ

June 19 In action throughout battle of the Philippine Sea. Downed at least three attacking planes. Œ

August Commanding Officer Captain Allan R. McCann USN Ž

September A unit of Fleet Admiral William F. "Bull" Halsey's third Fleet in support of carrier strikes against Philippine and Caroline Islands. Œ

October 10 Participating in air strikes against Ryukyu Islands, Taiwan and Luzon. Œ

October 23 Headed for Battle of Leyte Gulf. Œ

November Commanding Officer Captain James L. Holloway Jr., USN Ž

November 25 Kamikaze attack on Third Fleet. USS IOWA claimed two Jills and a Judy. Œ

December 17-18 At Ulithi for replenishment and maintenance. Lost plane - washed over the side during typhoon. Damage to shaft caused by storm required USS IOWA to return to the United States for overhaul at Hunters Point Shipyard, San Francisco. ΠAs one crew member recounts, "It was a very scary night, the Iowa rolled to about a 45 degree angle at one point and we all held our breaths that it wouldn't happen again. As our luck went, it happened at meal time so you can imagine the condition of the deck in the mess hall." There were 24 ships damaged, plus the destroyers Monoghan, Hull, and Spence which were sunk with a loss of 765 sailors.

Back to World War II Era Top

January 15 In drydock until March 19, 1945. This was the first major overhaul since leaving the East Coast. Bridge area was enclosed. New search and fire control radar installed.Œ & Ž

April 15 Arrives off Okinawa to relieve USS NEW JERSEY. Œ

May 25 Supported air strikes against Kyushu. Œ

July 1 En route to Northern Honshu and Hokkaido. Œ

July Commanding Officer Captain Charles Wellborn Jr. USN Ž

July 15 USS IOWA, USS MISSOURI and USS WISCONSIN attacked Muroran on Hokkaido inflicting significant damage on Nihon Steel Company and Wanishi Ironworks. Œ

July 17 The three battleships bombard industrial city of Hitachi Miro. During this action, USS IOWA served as flagship for Rear Admiral Oscar Badger. Œ

July 29-30 Bombarded island of Kahoolawe. Œ

August 27 In company with USS MISSOURI, USS IOWA put into Sagami Bay to effect the surrender of Yokosuka naval district. Œ

August 29 USS IOWA and USS MISSOURI entered Tokyo Bay in support of landing of occupation forces to take place next day. Œ

September 20 Underway for the United States. Œ

October 15 Arrived in Seattle, Washington and from there went on to Long Beach where she engaged in training operations along the West Coast. Œ

November Commanding Officer Captain Frederick I. Entwistle USN Ž

Back to World War II Era Top

January 27 Arrived in Tokyo Bay to serve as flagship of Fifth Fleet until March. Œ

March 25 Returned to Long Beach to operate along West Coast conducting drills, maneuvers and Naval Reserve and midshipmen training cruises. Œ

July Commanding Officer Captain Raymond D. Tarbuck USN Ž

October USS IOWA again overhauled. This time it was at Puget Sound Navy Yard. She received SK-2 radar and had many 20mm and 40mm mounts removed. Then was painted haze gray on all vertical surfaces. Ž

Back to World War II Era Top

April Commanding Officer Captain Thomas M. Stokes, USN Ž

Back to World War II Era Top

- March Commanding Officer Captain Edward A. Solomons, USN Ž

-August Commanding Officer Captain William F. Jennings, USN Ž

-September Inactivation begun at San Francisco. Œ

Back to World War II Era Top

January Commanding Officer Captain Bennett M. Dodson, USN Ž

March 24 Placed out of commission in reserve. Œ

Back to World War II Era Top



1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958
HISTORY MENU: Quick Access | World War II | Korean Conflict | 1980's Era
Source Info/Accuracy Statement


August Commanding Officer Captain William R. Smedberg III, USN Ž

August 25 Recommissioned due to the escalating level of hostilities in Korea. Œ

Back to KOREAN Era Top

April 1 Underway for Far East to relieve USS WISCONSIN and become flagship of Vice Admiral Robert T. Briscoe, Commander, Seventh Fleet, operating in support of United Nations Forces in Korea. Œ

April 8 Conducted gun strikes against enemy supply routes in Wonson-Songjin area. Œ

April 9 Joined bombline to strike enemy troop concentrations, supply areas and suspected gun positions in vicinity of Suwon Dan and Kojo. Œ

April 13 Bombardment in support of I ROK Corps, killing 100 enemy troops, destroying six gun emplacements and seriously damaging divisional headquarters. Œ

April 14 In Wonsan Harbor to bomb warehouses, observation posts and railroad marshaling yards and then back to the bombline to support UN forces in Kosong area. Œ

April 20 Operating north of 38th Parallel, the USS IOWA closed four railroad tunnels near Tanchon. Œ

April 25-26 Bombardment of Chindong and Kosong. Œ

May 25 In action against North Korean industrial and rail transportation center at Chongjin. Not since the USS MISSOURI bombarded Chongjin in November 1950, had a battleship operated that far north, just forty-eight miles from the Russian border. The USS IOWA effectively destroyed Chongjin's industrial center. Œ

May 27 Bombardment of Songjin, closing railroad tunnels and seriously damaging area bridges. Œ

May 28 Again on bombline in support of X Corps, followed by gun strikes on islands in Wonsan harbor. Œ

June 1 Underway for Sasebo and replenishment. Œ

June Gun strikes against Mayang-do, Tanchon, Chongjin, Chodo-Sokto and ports of Hungnam and Wonsan. Œ

June 9 USS IOWA'S helicopter rescued downed pilot from USS PRINCETON. Second USS PRINCETON pilot is rescued by USS IOWA's helicopter. Œ

July Commanding Officer Captain Joshua W. Cooper, USN Ž

August 20 Went to aid of destroyer USS THOMPSON off Songjin, taking aboard her casualties and covering her escape to safer waters. Œ

September 23 Gun strikes in Wonsan area observed by General Mark Clark, USA, Commander-In-chief of United Nations Forces who was aboard. IOWA's gunfire destroyed a major ammunition dump. Œ

September 25 Gun Strikes against railroad and thirty-car train. Œ

October 14 Participated in Operation Decoy, an attempt to draw enemy troops under fire at Kojo. Œ

October 16 Provided anti-aircraft support for the USS MOUNT MCKINLEY during Kojo action. Œ

During her Korean tour, the USS IOWA steamed more than 40,000 miles.

October 17 En route to Norfolk, Virginia for overhaul, followed by training operations in the Caribbean. Œ

Back to KOREAN Era Top

July Commanding Officer Captain Wayne R. Loud, USN Ž

July Serving as flagship of Second Fleet, USS IOWA was a participant in Operation Mariner, a major NATO exercise in Northern Europe. Œ

Back to KOREAN Era Top

June On Midshipmen training cruise, rendezvous with three other USS IOWA class battleships in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Œ

September Commanding Officer Captain William C. Bryson, USN Ž

Back to KOREAN Era Top

Visited Mediterranean, becoming first battleship in the Mediterranean since the war ended. Ports visited Gibraltar; Mers El Kebir, Oran; Genoa & Naples, Italy; Instanbul, Turkey; Athens, Greece; and Cannes, France. 

June Midshipmen Cruise. Visited Barcelonia, Spain and Portsmouth, England.

August Norfolk, Virginia for a four-month overhaul , followed by training cruises and operational exercises.

November Commanding Officer Captain John W. Ailes III, USN Ž

December Regunned for the first time. Œ

Back to KOREAN Era Top

April 13-15 Visited Havana Cuba.

April 15 USS IOWA's baseball team played the University of Havana in Havana.

June Midshipmen Cruise Able 1956. Visited Guantanamo Bay, Bermuda, Portsmouth, England, and Copenhagen, Denmark.

December Commanding Officer Captain F. Julian Becton USN Ž

Back to KOREAN Era Top

January Returned to Mediterranean for duty with the Sixth Fleet. Œ

June 13 Participated in International Naval Review off Hampton roads, Virginia. September Participate in NATO's Operation strike Back in North Atlantic. Œ

Back to KOREAN Era Top

February 24 Decommissioned at Philadelphia Navy Yard. Œ

Back to KOREAN Era Top



THE 1980's ERA

1982, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990
HISTORY MENU: Quick Access | World War II | Korean Conflict | 1980's Era
Source Info/Accuracy Statement


September 1 In tow from Philadelphia to New Orleans and Avondale shipyard, Inc., for modernization and reactivation. Subsequently towed to Ingalls shipbuilding, Pascagoula, Mississippi for completion of work. Œ

Back to 1980's Era Top

April Commanding Officer Captain Gerald E. Gneckow, USN Ž

April 28 Recommissioned ahead of schedule and within budget. Œ

April 30 Underway to Autec Range for Naval Gunfire Support (NGFS) training. Œ

May Two weeks refresher training at Guantanamo Bay. Œ

May 21 Off Vieques island, Puerto Rico, for NGFS qualifications for IOWA's 16-inch and 5-inch batteries. Œ

June 19 Underway for Caracas, Venezuela conducting a number of systems checks and gunnery exercises en route. USS IOWA also made stops at ports en route in support of "Naval Presence" operations designed to back-up friendly states in Central America and Caribbean. Œ

Mid-July Off Vieques Island for gunnery exercises. Œ

August 8 Underway to begin pacific Coast operations. Œ

August 12 Two US Army UH-1 helicopters from USS IOWA were used when medical and dental assistance was needed in Guatemala. Œ

August 13 SAR communications drill. Œ

August 14 Engaged in surveillance of thirteen miles of Nicaraguan coast in conjunction with embassy contingency communication exercises. Œ

August 26 Nicaraguan surveillance completed and USS IOWA returned to Balboa, Panama for trip back through canal. Œ

September 17 Arrived in Norfolk. Œ

October Week long visit to New York. Œ

November 1-20 Participated in COMPUTEX 1-85 in Puerto Rican Operations area. Œ

December In port Norfolk. Œ

Back to 1980's Era Top

January Sea Trials. Œ

February Underway for deployment in Central America. Completed several civic action and humanitarian projects in Costa Rica and Honduras. Participated in encounter exercises with Battleship Surface Action Group. Œ

March Engaged in Battle Force integrated training and post-shakedown availability training operating out of Norfolk. Off loaded ammunition at Yorktown's Naval Weapons Station. Œ

April 26 Into drydock at Norfolk Navy Yard, Portsmouth, Va. Œ

July 31 Out of drydock to load gun 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. Œ

August 22 Received Battenburg Cup Award as best all-around ship in Atlantic Fleet for 1984. Œ

August 27 Underway for Ocean Safari as part of Battleship Surface Action Group providing protection for convoy of supply ships en route from Boston to Northern Europe. Œ

September 20 Operation Ocean Safari completed following rendezvous with USS America Battle Group, USS IOWA went on through English Channel to Le Havre, France, then Copenhagen & Aarhus, Denmark and Oslo, Norway. Œ

October 12 Underway for Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 85 in Baltic Sea. Part of US Task Unit conducting multilateral exercises with allied vessels in Baltic area. Œ

October 18 BALTOPS 85 concluded with USS IOWA in port at Kiel, West Germany. Œ

October 26 Underway for Norfolk, conducting numerous drills/exercises en routeŒ

November 5 In Norfolk for preparations for INSURV/UMI and final contract trials. In Central America as peaceful presence in support of friendly countries. Œ

Back to 1980's Era Top

March Continued presence in Central American waters. Œ

July Commanding Officer Captain Larry Seaquist, USN Ž

July 4 Carried President Ronald Reagan for Liberty Weekend's International Naval Review in Hudson River. Œ

August Underway along Florida coast and in Gulf of Mexico conducting operational and training exercises. Œ

August 17 Underway for North Atlantic and (NATO) Operation Northern Wedding.Œ

September Participated in Operation Northern Wedding off southern coast of Norway, Following operations at sea, USS IOWA visited Portsmouth, England and Bremerhaven, West Germany. Œ

October 2 Underway for return trip to United States. Œ

December 9 Underway for sea trials off Virginia Capes. First launch, flight and recovery of a Pioneer RPV was made. Œ

December 14 USS IOWA fired 1,000 th round of 16-inch ammunition since being recommissioned in 1984. Œ

Back to 1980's Era Top

January 9 Departed Norfolk en route to Caribbean. Œ

January 10 Participated in exercise BLASTEX 1-87 in Caribbean. Œ

January 18 Operations in Caribbean with port visits in Honduras, Columbia and Virgin Islands. Œ

February 11 Arrived Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for ORI (Operational Readiness Inspection). Œ

February 13 Departed Guantanamo Bay for gunnery exercises at Vieques Island, Puerto Rico. Œ

February 26 Arrived Norfolk. Œ

February 27 In restricted availability at Norfolk. Œ

March Independent ship exercises. Œ

March 30 In service restricted availability at Norfolk. Œ

April 25 Departed Norfolk en route to Caribbean. Œ

May 4 Conducted SACEX in Puerto Rican operations area. Œ

May 25 Independent ship exercises. Œ

July 8 Participated in FLEETEX 3-87 in Western Atlantic. Œ

July 26 Arrive Yorktown Naval Weapons Center for loading ammunition. Œ

July 28 Arrive Norfolk. In Service restricted availability (SRA). Œ

August 17 Independent ship exercises. Œ

September 10 Departed Norfolk en route to Mediterranean. Œ

September 20 INCHOP (enter Mediterranean) to join Sixth Fleet. Œ

September 22 Participated in Exercise Display Determination. Œ

October 8 Port visit - Instanbul. Œ

October 22 OUTCHOP, detach from Sixth Fleet. Œ

October 26 Began North Sea operations. Œ

October 30 Arrived Trondheim, Norway. Œ

November 8 INCHOP. Œ

November 25 Transited Suez Canal. Œ

December 4 Arrived Diego Garcia to commence Persian Gulf Presence Operations. Œ

December 7 Depart Diego Garcia for operations in the Indian Ocean and North Arabian Sea. Œ

Back to 1980's Era Top

January 1 In Gulf of Oman. Operations included escorting convoys through the southern Strait of Hormuz and protecting convoy assembly areas off Masirah Island and Muscat, Oman. Œ

February 20 Transited Suez Canal. Œ

February 29 OUTCHOP Œ

March 10 Arrived Norfolk. In service restricted availability. Œ

April 20 Departed Norfolk en route to New York City to celebrate "Fleet Week" 21-25 of April. Œ

April 25 En route to Yorktown Naval Weapons Station for off load of ammunition, prior-to entering Norfolk Naval shipyard for SRA (25 April-23 August).Œ

May Commanding Officer Captain Fred P. Mossally, USN Ž

August 24 Sea Trials, Virginia Capes Operating Area. Œ

October 7 En route to Port Everglades, Florida for port visit (9-11 October). Œ

October 13 Arrived Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for Refresher Training.Œ

November 28 Gunnery exercises at Vieques Island.Œ

December 7 Arrive Norfolk.Œ

Back to 1980's Era Top

January 20 En route St. Martin, operating with units of the standing Naval Forces, Atlantic. Œ

January 26 USS IOWA fired the longest 16-inch round in history at Vieques Island. The projectile traveled 23.4 NM for a first round hit on target. Œ

February 1 En route to New Orleans for port visit (5-9 February). Œ

March 16 Arrive Norfolk. Œ

April 10 Embark Commander, Second Fleet. Œ

April 13 Underway, FLEETEX 3-89.Œ

April 19 Explosion within Turret Two kills 47 crewman off the coast of Puerto Rico. Œ

April 22 Arrive Norfolk. Œ

May 30 - June 2 Ammunition loaded at Whisky Island Anchorage. Œ

June 7 Underway for Northern Europe and Mediterranean. During this deployment, USS IOWA traveled 30,983 NM 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.Œ

July 24 -August 1 Restricted availability, Marseille, France. Cut short one week due to

contingency operations in the Mediterranean, off the Lebanese coast. Œ

August 15 Embark Commander, United States Sixth Fleet. Œ

September 16 Exercise Display Determination, 1989. Œ

November 17 Sixth Fleet departs USS IOWA, flag returned to USS BELKNAP. Œ

November 26 En route Norfolk. During this transit, last 16-inch round fired, giving USS IOWA a total of 2,873 rounds fired since 1984 recommissioning. Since USS IOWA's initial commissioning date in 1943, a total of 11,834 16-inch rounds fired. Œ

December 7 Arrive Norfolk. Œ

Back to 1980's Era Top

January 4 Turret Two memorial plaque unveiled. Œ

January 16 SRA at Norfolk Naval Shipyard. Œ

February 20 Nuclear Weapons closeout Inspection. Œ

April 17 Return to Naval Base Norfolk.Œ

April 19 Turret Two Memorial Service. Memorial plaque dedicated. Œ

May Commanding Officer Captain John P. Moorse, USN Ž

May 25 Marine Detachment deactivates. Œ

June 22 - July 6 Midshipmen summer training. Œ

October 26 USS IOWA decommissioned. Œ

Back to 1980's Era Top



ΠFrom the material provided by the USS IOWA Veterans Association to members and attendees at the 1997 reunion in Colorado Springs, CO.

 From the "1955 Mediterranean Cruise Book".

Ž From the Pictorial Histories Publishing Company book entitled"Warship's Data #3, USS IOWA (BB61)"

We are making every effort to ensure the historical accuracy of the this information. If you would like to add anything, Email John Schultz with your information and your source and we'll get it added as soon as possible!

Sea stories MAY be added - BUT they must be 'clean' and 'applicable' to the topic. Any sea stories above are so marked and that information cannot be confirmed by sources. The USS IOWA(BB-61)Veteran's Association Web-Group has the final say as to what is published on this page.

HISTORY MENU: Quick Access | World War II | Korean Conflict | 1980's Era



The information herein is 1996-2016 to The Veteran's Association of the USS IOWA, all rights reserved or the sources are listed respectively. Questions about this web-site should be directed to John E. Schultz

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