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The Battleship Wisconsin

Berthed at Nauticus, the Battleship Wisconsin is one of the largest and last battleships ever built by the U.S. Navy. Explore its deck through a self-guided tour or, with an additional charge, our guided tours that will take you back in time to experience this majestic ship that earned five battle stars during WWII.

The History of the Wisconsin

Battleship Wisconsin (BB-64), an Iowa-class battleship, was the second ship of the United States Navy named in honor of the 30th state. Her keel was laid down on January 25, 1941 at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. She was launched on December 7, 1943 sponsored by Mrs. Walter S. Goodland, and commissioned on April 16, 1944, with Captain Earl E. Stone in command.

After her trials and initial training in the Chesapeake Bay, Wisconsin departed Norfolk, Virginia, on July 7, 1944, bound for the British West Indies. Following her shakedown, conducted out of Trinidad, the third Iowa-class battleship to join the Fleet returned to her builder’s yard for post-shakedown repairs and alterations.

On 24 September 1944Wisconsin sailed for the west coast, transited the Panama Canal, and reported for duty with the Pacific Fleet on 2 October. The battleship later moved to Hawaiian waters for training exercises and then headed for the Western Caroline Islands. Upon reaching Ulithi on 9 December, she joined Admiral William F. Halsey’s Third Fleet.

The powerful new warship had arrived at a time when the reconquest of the Philippines was well underway. As a part of that movement, the planners had envisioned landings on the southwest coast of Mindoro, south of Luzon. From that point, American forces could threaten Japanese shipping lanes through the South China Sea.

The day before the amphibians assaulted Mindoro, the Third Fleet’s Fast Carrier Task Force (TF) 38, supported in art by Wisconsin, rendered Japanese facilities at Manila largely useless. Between 14 December and 16 December, TF 38’s naval aviators secured complete tactical surprise and quickly won complete mastery of the air and sank or destroyed 27 Japanese vessels; damaged 60 more; destroyed 269 planes; and bombed miscellaneous ground installations.

The next day the weather, however, soon turned sour for Halsey’s sailors. A furious typhoon struck his fleet, catching many ships refueling and with little ballast in their nearly dry bunkers. Three destroyers, Hull (DD-350), Monaghan (DD-354), and Spence (DD-512), capsized and sank. Wisconsin proved her seaworthiness as she escaped the storm unscathed.

As heavily contested as they were, the Mindoro operations proved only the introduction to another series of calculated blows aimed at the occupying Japanese in the Philippines. For Wisconsin, her next operation was the occupation of Luzon. Bypassing the southern beaches, American amphibians went ashore at Lingayen Gulf, the scene of the Japanese landings nearly three years before.

Wisconsin, armed with heavy antiaircraft batteries, performed escort duty for TF 38’s fast carriers during air strikes against Formosa, Luzon, and the Nansei Shoto, to neutralize Japanese forces there and to cover the unfolding Lingayen Gulf operations. Those strikes, lasting from 3 January to 22 January 1945, included a thrust into the South China Sea, in the hope that major units of the Japanese Navy could be drawn into battle.

Air strikes between Saigon and Camranh Bay, Indochina, on 12 January resulted in severe losses for the enemy. TF 38’s warplanes sank 41 ships and damaged heavily damaged docks, storage areas, and aircraft facilities. At least 112 enemy planes would never again see operational service. Formosa, already struck on 3 January and 4 January, again fell victim to the marauding American airmen, being smashed again on 9 January, 15 January, and 21 January. Soon, Hong Kong, Canton, and Hainan Island felt the brunt of TF 38’s power. Besides damaging and sinking Japanese shipping, American planes from the task force set the Canton oil refineries afire and blasted the Hong Kong Naval Station. They also raided Okinawa on 22 January, considerably lessening enemy air activities that could threaten the Luzon landings.

Assigned to the Fifth Fleet when Admiral Raymond A. Spruance relieved Admiral Halsey as Commander of the FleetWisconsin moved northward with the redesignated TF 58 as the carriers headed for the Tokyo area. On 16 February 1945, the task force approached the Japanese coast under cover of adverse weather conditions and achieved complete tactical surprise. As a result, they shot down 322 enemy planes and destroyed 177 more on the ground, Japanese shipping, both naval and merchant, suffered drastically, too, as did hangars and aircraft installations. Moreover, all this damage to the enemy had cost the American Navy only 49 planes.

The task force moved to Iwo Jima on 17 February to provide direct support for the landings slated to take place on that island on 19 February. It revisited Tokyo on 25 February and, the next day, hit the island of Hachino off the coast of Honshu. During these raids, besides causing heavy damage or ground facilities, the American planes sank five small vessels and destroyed 158 planes.

On 1 March, reconnaissance planes flew over the island of Okinawa, taking last minute intelligence photographs to be used in planning the assault on that island. The next day, cruisers from TF 58 shelled Okino Daito Shima in training for the forthcoming operation. The force then retired to Ulithi for replenishment.

Wisconsin’s task force stood out of Ulithi on 14 March, bound for Japan. The mission of that group was to eliminate airborne resistance from the Japanese homeland to American forces off Okinawa. Enemy fleet units at Kure and Kobe, on southern Honshu, reeled under the impact of the explosive blows delivered by TF 58’s airmen. On 18 March and 19 March, from a point 100 miles (160 km) southwest of Kyushu, TF 58 hit enemy airfields on that island. However, the Japanese drew blood during that action when Kamikaze attacks against TF58 on 19 March seriously damaged the carrier Franklin (CV-13).

That afternoon, the task force retired from Kyushu, screening the blazing and battered flattop. In doing so, the screen shot down 48 attackers. At the conclusion of the operation, the force felt that it had achieved its mission of prohibiting any large-scale resistance from the air to the slated landings on Okinawa.

On 24 March, Wisconsin trained her 16 inch (406 mm) guns on targets ashore on Okinawa. Together with the other battlewagons of the task force, she pounded Japanese positions and installations in preparation for the landings. Although fierce, Japanese resistance was doomed to fail by dwindling numbers of aircraft and trained pilots. In addition, the Japanese fleet, steadily hammered by air attacks from Fifth Fleet aircraft, found itself confronted by a growing, powerful, and determined enemy. On 17 April, the undaunted enemy battleship Yamato, with her 460 mm guns, sortied to attack the American invasion fleet off Okinawa. Met head-on by a swarm of carrier planes, Yamato, the light cruiser Yahagi, and four destroyers were sunk, the victims of massed air power. Never again would the Japanese fleet present a major challenge to the American fleet in the war in the Pacific.

While TF 58’s planes were off dispatching Yamato and her consorts to the bottom of the South China Sea, enemy aircraft struck back at American surface units. Combat air patrols (CAP) shot down 15 enemy planes, and ships’ gunfire shot down another three, but not before one Kamikaze attack penetrated the CAP and screen to crash on the flight deck of the fleet carrier Hancock(CV-19). On 11 April, the Japanese renewed their Kamikaze attacks; and only drastic maneuvers and heavy barrages of gunfire saved the task force. None of the strikes achieved any direct hits, although near-misses, close aboard, managed to cause some minor damage. Combat air patrols shot down 17 planes, and ships’ gunfire shot down 12. The next day, 151 enemy aircraft attacked TF 58, but Wisconsin, bristling with five inch (127 mm), 40 mm and 20 mm guns, together with other units of the screens for the vital carriers, kept the Kamikaze pilots at bay and destroyed them before they could reach their targets.

Over the days that ensued, American task force planes hit Japanese facilities and installations in the enemy’s homeland. Redoubling their efforts, suicide attacks managed to crash into three carriers on successive days Intrepid(CV-11), Bunker Hill (CV-17) and Enterprise (CV-6).

By 4 June, a typhoon was swirling through the Fleet. Wisconsin rode out the storm unscathed, but three cruisers, two carriers, and a destroyer suffered serious damage. Offensive operations were resumed on 8 June with a final aerial assault on Kyushu. Japanese aerial response was pitifully small; 29 planes were located and destroyed. On that day, one of Wisconsin’s floatplanes landed and rescued a downed pilot from the carrier Shangri-La (CV-38).

Wisconsin ultimately put into Leyte Gulf and dropped anchor there on 18 June for repairs and replenishment. Three weeks later, on 1 July, the battleship and her consorts sailed once more for Japanese home waters for carrier air strikes on the enemy’s heartland. Nine days later, carrier planes from TF 38 destroyed 72 enemy aircraft on the ground and smashed industrial sites in the Tokyo area. So little was the threat from the dwindling Japanese air arm that the Americans made no attempt whatever to conceal the location of their armada which was operating off her shores with impunity.

On 16 July, Wisconsin fired the 16 inch (406 mm) guns at the steel mills and oil refineries at Muroran, Hokkaido. Two days later, she wrecked industrial facilities in the Hitachi Miro area, on the coast of Honshu, northeast of Tokyo itself. During that bombardment, British battleships of the Eastern Fleet contributed their heavy shellfire. By that point in the war, Allied warships were able to shell the Japanese homeland almost at will.

Task Force 38’s planes subsequently blasted the Japanese naval base at Yokosuka, and put the former fleet flagshipNagato out of action, one of the two remaining Japanese battleships. On 24 July and 25 July, American carrier planes visited the Inland Sea region, blasting enemy sites on Honshu, Kyushu, and Shikoku. Kure then again came under attack. Six major fleet units were located there and badly damaged, marking the virtual end of Japanese sea power.

Over the weeks that ensued, TF 38 continue its raids on Japanese industrial facilities, airfields, and merchant and naval shipping. Admiral Halsey’s airmen visited destruction upon the Japanese capital for the last time on 13 August 1945. Two days later, the Japanese surrendered. World War II was over at last.

Wisconsin, as part of the occupying force, arrived at Tokyo Bay on 6 September, three days after the formal surrender occurred on board the battleship Missouri (BB-63). During Wisconsin’s brief career in World War II, she had steamed 105,831 miles (170,318 km) since commissioning; had shot down three enemy planes; had claimed assists on four occasions; and had fueled her screening destroyers on some 250 occasions.

Text provided by Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS), Vol. VIII, pp. 433-37.

Shifting subsequently to Okinawa, the battleship embarked homeward-bound GIs on 22 September, as part of Operation Magic Carpet staged to bring soldiers, sailors, and marines home from the far-flung battlefronts of the Pacific. Departing Okinawa on 23 September, Wisconsin reached Pearl Harbor on 4 October, remaining there for five days before she pushed on for the west coast on the last leg of her state-side bound voyage. She reached San Francisco, California, on 15 October.

Heading for the east coast of the United States soon after the start of the new year, 1946, Wisconsin transited the Panama Canal between 11 January and 13 January and reached Hampton Roads, Virginia, on 18 January. Following a cruise south to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the battleship entered the Norfolk Naval Shipyard for overhaul. After repairs and alterations that consumed the summer months, Wisconsinsailed for South American waters.

Over the weeks that ensued, the battleship visited Valparaiso, Chile, from 1 November to 6 November; Callao, Peru, from 9 November to 13 November; Balboa, Canal Zone, from 16 November to 20 November; and La Guajira, Venezuela, from 22 November to 26 November, before returning to Norfolk on 2 December 1946.

Wisconsin spent nearly all of 1947 as a training ship, taking naval reservists on two-week cruises throughout the year. Those voyages commenced at Bayonne, New Jersey, and saw visits conducted at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the Panama Canal Zone. While underway at sea, the ship would perform various drills and exercises before the cruise would end where it had started, at Bayonne. During June and July of 1947, Wisconsin took United States Naval Academy midshipmen on cruises to northern European waters.

In January 1948, Wisconsin joined the Atlantic Reserve Fleet at Norfolk, for inactivation. Placed out of commission, in reserve on 1 July 1948 Wisconsin was assigned to the Norfolk group of the Atlantic Reserve Fleet.

Text provided by Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS), Vol. VIII, pp. 433-37.

Her sojourn in “mothballs,” however, was comparatively brief because of the North Korean invasion of South Korea in late June 1950. Wisconsinwas recommissioned, on 3 March 1951 with Captain Thomas Burrowes in command. After shakedown training, the revitalized battleship conducted two midshipmen training cruises, taking the officers-to-be to Edinburgh, Scotland; Lisbon, Portugal; Halifax, Nova Scotia; New York City; and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, before she returned to Norfolk.

Wisconsin departed Norfolk on 25 October 1951, bound for the Pacific. She transited the Panama Canal on 29 October and reached Yokosuka, Japan, on 21 November. There, she relieved New Jersey (BB-62) as flagship for Vice Admiral H. M. Martin, Commander, Seventh Fleet.

On 26 November, with Vice Admiral Martin and Rear Admiral F.P. Denebrink, Commander, Service Force, Pacific, embarked, Wisconsin departed Yokosuka for Korean waters to support the fast carrier operations of TF 77. She left the company of the carrier force on 2 December and, screened by the destroyer Wiltsie (DD-716), provided gunfire support for the Republic of Korea (ROK) Corps in the Kasong-Kosong area. After disembarking Admiral Denebrink on 3 December at Kangnung, the battleship resumed station on the Korean “bombline,” providing gunfire support for the American 1st Marine Division. Wisconsin’s shellings accounted for a tank, two gun emplacements, and a building. She continued her gunfire support task for the 1st Marine Division and 1st ROK Corps through 6 December, accounting for enemy bunkers, artillery positions, and troop concentrations. On one occasion during that time, the battleship received a request for call-fire support and provided three star-shells for the 1st ROK Corps, illuminating a communist attack that was consequently repulsed with considerable enemy casualties.

After being relieved on the gunline by the heavy cruiser St. Paul (CA-78) on 6 December, Wisconsin retired only briefly from gunfire support duties. She resumed them, however, in the Kasong-Kosong area on 11 December screened by the destroyer Twining (DD-540). The following day, 12 December, saw the embarkation in Wisconsin of Rear Admiral H. R. Thurber, Commander, Battleship Division 2. The admiral came on board via helicopter, incident to his inspection trip in the Far East.

The battleship continued naval gunfire support duties on the “bombline,” shelling enemy bunkers, command posts, artillery positions, and trench systems through 14 December. She departed the “bombline” on that day to render special gunfire support duties in the Kojo area blasting coastal targets in support of United Nations (UN) troops ashore. That same day, she returned to the Kasong-Kosong area. On 15 December, she disembarked Admiral Thurber by helicopter. The next day, Wisconsin departed Korean waters, heading for Sasebo to rearm.

Returning to the combat zone on 17 December, Wisconsin embarked United States Senator Homer Ferguson of Michigan on 18 December. That day, the battleship supported the 11th ROK invasion with night illumination fire that enabled the ROK troops to repulse a communist assault with heavy enemy casualties. Departing the “bombline” on 19 December, the battleship later that day transferred her distinguished passenger, Senator Ferguson, by helicopter to the carrier Valley Forge (CV-45).

Wisconsin next participated in a coordinated air-surface bombardment of Wonsan to neutralize pre-selected targets. She shifted her bombardment station to the western end of Wonsan harbor, hitting boats and small craft in the inner swept channel during the afternoon. Such activities helped to forestall any communist attempts to assault the friendly-held islands in the Wonsan area. Wisconsin then made an anti-boat sweep to the north, firing the five inch (127 mm) batteries on suspected boat concentrations. She then provided gunfire support to UN troops operating at the “bombline” until three days before Christmas 1951. She then rejoined the carrier task force.

On 28 December, Francis Cardinal Spellman, on a Korean tour over the Christmas holidays, visited the ship, coming on board by helicopter to celebrate Mass for the Catholic members of the crew. He left the ship by helicopter off Pohang. Three days later, on the last day of the year, Wisconsin put into Yokosuka.

Wisconsin departed that Japanese port on 8 January 1952 and headed for Korean waters once more. She reached Pusan the following day and entertained the President of South Korea, Syngman Rhee, and his wife, on 10 January. President and Mrs. Rhee received full military honors as they came on board, and he reciprocated by awarding Vice Admiral Martin the ROK Order of the Military Merit.

Wisconsin returned to the “bombline” on 11 January and, over the ensuing days, delivered heavy gunfire support for the 1st Marine Division and the 1st ROK Corps. As before, her primary targets were command posts, shelters, bunkers, troop concentrations and mortar positions. As before, she stood ready to deliver call-fire support as needed. One such occasion occurred; on 14 January when she shelled enemy troops in the open at the request of the ROK 1st Corps.

Rearming at Sasebo and once more joining TF 77 off the coast of Korea soon thereafter, Wisconsin resumed support at the “bombline” on 23 January. Three days later, she shifted once more to the Kojo region, to participate in a coordinated air and gun strike. That same day, the battleship returned to the “bombline” and shelled the command post and communications center for the 15th North Korean Division during call-fire missions for the 1st Marine Division.

Returning to Wonsan at the end of January, Wisconsin bombarded enemy guns at Hodo Pando before she was rearmed at Sasebo. The battleship rejoined TF 77 on 2 February and the next day, blasted railway buildings and marshaling yards at Hodo Pando and Kojo before rejoining TF 77. After replenishment at Yokosuka a few days later, she returned to the Kosong area and resumed gunfire support. During that time, she destroyed railway bridges and a small shipyard besides conducting call-fire missions on enemy command posts, bunkers, and personnel shelters, making numerous cuts on enemy trench lines in the process.

On 26 February, Wisconsin arrived at Pusan where Vice Admiral Shon, the ROK Chief of Naval Operations; United States Ambassador J.J. Muccio; and Rear Admiral Scott-Montcrief, Royal Navy, Commander, Task Group 95.12, visited the battleship. Departing that South Korean port the following day,Wisconsin reached Yokosuka on 2 March. A week later, she shifted to Sasebo to prepare to return to Korean waters.

Wisconsin arrived off Songjin, Korea, on 15 March 1952 and concentrated her gunfire on enemy railway transport. Early that morning, she destroyed a communist troop train trapped outside of a destroyed tunnel. That afternoon, she received the first direct hit in her history, when one of four shells from a communist 155 mm gun battery struck the shield of a starboard 40 mm mount. Although little material damage resulted, three men were injured. Wisconsin subsequently destroyed that battery with a 16 inch (406 mm) salvo before continuing her mission. After lending a hand to support once more the 1st Marine Division with her heavy rifles, the battleship returned to Japan on 19 March.

Relieved as flagship of the Seventh Fleet on 1 April by sistership Iowa (BB-61), Wisconsin departed Yokosuka, bound for the United States. En route home, she touched briefly at Guam, where she took part in the successful test of the Navy’s largest floating dry-dock on 4 April and 5 April, marking the first time that an Iowa-class battleship had ever utilized that type of facility. She continued her homeward-bound voyage, via Pearl Harbor, and arrived at Long Beach, California, on 19 April, she then sailed for Norfolk.

Text provided by Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS), Vol. VIII, pp. 433-37.

Early in June 1952, Wisconsin resumed her role as a training ship, taking midshipmen to Greenock, Scotland; Brest, France; and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, before returning to Norfolk. She departed Hampton Roads on 25 August and participated in a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) exercise, Operation “Mainbrace” which commenced at Greenock and extended as far north as Oslo, Norway. After her return to Norfolk,Wisconsin underwent an overhaul in the naval shipyard there. She then engaged in local training evolutions until 11 February 1953, when she sailed for Cuban waters for refresher training. She visited Newport, Rhode Island, and New York City before returning to Norfolk late in April.

Following another midshipman’s training cruise to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Port-of-Spain, Trinidad; and Guantanamo Bay, Wisconsin put into the Norfolk Naval Shipyard on 4 August for a brief overhaul. A little over a month later, upon conclusion of that period of repairs and alterations, the battleship departed Norfolk on 9 September, bound for the Far East.

Sailing via the Panama Canal to Japan, Wisconsin relieved New Jersey (BB-62) as Seventh Fleet flagship on 12 October. During the months that followed, Wisconsin visited the Japanese ports of Kobe, Sasebo, Yokosuka, Otaru, and Nagasaki. She spent Christmas at Hong Kong and was ultimately relieved of flagship duties on 1 April 1954 and returned to the United States soon thereafter, reaching Norfolk, via Long Beach and the Panama Canal, on 4 May 1954.

Entering the Norfolk Naval Shipyard on 11 June, Wisconsin underwent a brief overhaul and commenced a midshipman training cruise on 12 July. After revisiting Greenock, Brest, and Guantanamo Bay, the ship returned to the Norfolk Naval Shipyard for repairs. Shortly thereafter, Wisconsin participated in Atlantic Fleet exercises as flagship for Commander, Second Fleet. Departing Norfolk in January 1955, Wisconsin took part in operation “Springboard,” during which time she visited Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Then, upon returning to Norfolk, the battleship conducted another midshipman’s cruise that summer, visiting Edinburgh; Copenhagen, Denmark; and Guantanamo Bay before returning to the United States.

Upon completion of a major overhaul at the New York Naval Shipyard,Wisconsin headed south for refresher training in the Caribbean Sea, later taking part in another “Springboard” exercise. During that cruise, she again visited Port-au-Prince and added Tampico, Mexico, and Cartagena, Colombia, to her list of ports of call. She returned to Norfolk on the last day of March 1955 for local operations.

Throughout April and into May,Wisconsin operated locally off the Virginia capes. On 6 May, the battleship collided with the destroyerEaton (DDE-510) in a heavy fog;Wisconsin put into Norfolk with extensive damage to her bow and, one week later, entered drydock at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. A novel expedient speeded her repairs and enabled the ship to carry out her scheduled midshipman training cruise that summer. A 120 ton, 68 foot (21 m) section of the bow of the uncompleted battleship Kentucky was transported by barge, in one section, from Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Corporation of Newport News, Virginia, across Hampton Roads to the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. Working round-the clock, Wisconsin’s ship’s force and shipyard personnel completed the operation which grafted the new bow on the old battleship in a mere 16 days. On 28 June 1956, the ship was ready for sea.

Embarking 700 NROTC midshipmen, representing 52 colleges and universities throughout the United States,Wisconsin departed Norfolk on 9 July, bound for Spain. Reaching Barcelona on 20 July, the battleship next called at Greenock and Guantanamo Bay before returning to Norfolk on the last day of August. That autumn, Wisconsinparticipated in Atlantic Fleet exercises off the coast of the Carolinas, returning to port on 8 November 1956. Entering the Norfolk Naval Shipyard a week later, the battleship underwent major repairs that were not finished until 2 January 1957.

After local operations off the Virginia capes from 3 January to 4 January and from 9 January to 11 January,Wisconsin departed Norfolk on 16 January, reporting to Commander, Fleet Training Group, at Guantanamo Bay. Breaking the two-starred flag of Rear Admiral Henry Crommelin, Commander, Battleship Division 2, Wisconsinserved as Admiral Crommelin’s flagship during the ensuing shore bombardment practices and other exercises held off the isle of Culebra, Puerto Rico, from 2 February to 4 February 1957. Sailing for Norfolk upon completion of the training period, the battleship arrived on 7 February.

The warship conducted a brief period of local operations off Norfolk before she sailed, on 27 March, for the Mediterranean Sea. Reaching Gibraltar on 6 April, she pushed on that day to rendezvous with TF 60 in the Aegean Sea. She then proceeded with that force to Xeros Bay, Turkey, arriving there on 11 April for NATO Exercise “Red Pivot.”

Departing Xeros Bay on 14 April, she arrived at Naples four days later, After a week’s visit during which she was visited by Italian dignitariesWisconsin conducted exercises in the eastern Mediterranean. In the course of those operational training evolutions, she rescued a pilot and crewman who survived the crash of a plane from the carrier Forrestal (CVA-59). Two days later, Vice Admiral Charles R. Brown, Commander, Sixth Fleet, came on board for an official visit by high-line and departed via the same method that day. Wisconsin reached Valencia, Spain, on 10 May and, three days later, entertained prominent civilian and military officials of the city.

Departing Valencia on 17 April, Wisconsin reached Norfolk on 27 May. On that day, Rear Admiral L.S. Parks relieved Rear Admiral Crommelin as Commander, Battleship Division 2. Departing Norfolk on 19 June, the battleship, over the ensuing weeks, conducted a midshipman training cruise through the Panama Canal to South American waters. She transited the canal on 26 June; crossed the equator on the following day; and reached Valparaiso on 3 July. Eight days later, the battleship headed back to the Panama Canal and the Atlantic.

After exercises at Guantanamo Bay and off Culebra, Wisconsin reached Norfolk on 5 August and conducted local operations that lasted into September. She then participated in NATO exercises which took her across the North Atlantic to the British Isles. She arrived in the River Clyde on 14 September and subsequently visited Brest, France, before returning to Norfolk on 22 October.

Wisconsin’s days as an active fleet unit were numbered, and she prepared to make her last cruise. On 4 November 1957, she departed Norfolk with a large group of prominent guests on board. Reaching New York City on 6 November, the battleship disembarked her guests and, on 8 November, headed for Bayonne, New Jersey, to commence pre-inactivation overhaul.

Placed out of commission at Bayonne on 8 March 1958, Wisconsin joined the “Mothball Fleet” there, leaving the United States Navy without an active battleship for the first time since 1896. Subsequently taken to the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, Wisconsin remained there with her sistership Iowa into 1981.

Text provided by Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS), Vol. VIII, pp. 433-37.

Wisconsin was recommissioned on 22 October 1988, as part of President Ronald Reagan’s “600-ship Navy” Over the next several months the ship was upgraded with the most advanced weaponry available, including Harpoon and Tomahawk Missile capabilities.

Wisconsin served in Operation Desert Storm from 15 January to 27 February 1991. This marked the last time that a United States battleship ever actively participated in a foreign war.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the absence of a perceived threat to the United States came drastic cuts in the defense budget, and the high cost of maintaining and operating battleships as part of the United States Navy became uneconomical. As a result, the Wisconsin was decommissioned on 30 September 1991 and was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 12 January 1995. On 15 October 1996 she was moved to the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. On 12 February 1998 she was restored to the Naval Vessel Register. She remains berthed adjacent to Nauticus in Norfolk, Virginia.

Wisconsin earned five battle stars for her World War II service and one for the Korean War. The ship also received the Navy Unit Commendation for service during the first Gulf War.

PLEASE NOTE: The City of Norfolk has assumed stewardship of the Battleship Wisconsin, which is now included in regular Nauticus admission. Admission fees help preserve and maintain the battleship for future generations.

Text provided by Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS), Vol. VIII, pp. 433-37.


  • Korea: November 20 1951 – March 31 1952
  • Persian Gulf: January 17 1991 – February 28 1991

The Combat Action Ribbon (CAR) is a personal military decoration of the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps, and which is awarded to those who, in any grade including and below that of a Captain in the Navy (or Colonel in the Marine Corps), have actively participated in ground or surface combat. The Combat Action Ribbon is also awarded to members of the United States Coast Guard when operating under the control of the Navy.

  • Persian Gulf: Jan 17 1991 – Feb 28 1991

This commendation is awarded by the Secretary to any ship, aircraft, detachment, or other unit of the United States Navy or Marine Corps which has since December 6 1941 distinguished itself in action against the enemy with outstanding heroism not sufficient to justify award of the Presidential Unit Citation (US). It is also awarded for non-combat service, in support of military operations, which was outstanding when compared to other units or organizations performing similar service.

  • World War II

To be awarded the American Campaign Medal, a service member was required to either perform one year of consecutive duty within the continental borders of the United States, or perform 30 consecutive days/60 non-consecutive days of duty outside the borders of the United States but within the American Theater of Operations. The American Theater was defined as the entirety of the United States to include most of the Atlantic Ocean, a portion of Alaska, and a small portion of the Pacific bordering California and Baja California. The eligibility dates of the American Campaign Medal were from December 7, 1941 to March 2, 1946.

  • Leyte Operation: December 1944
  • Luzon Operation: December 1944 – January 1945
  • Iwo Jim Operation: February 1945 – March 1945
  • Okinawa Gunto Operation: March 1945 – June 1945
  • Third Fleet Operations Against Japan: July 1945 – August 1945

The Asiatic/Pacific Campaign Medal is a service decoration of the Second World War which was awarded to any member of the United States military who served within the Asiatic/Pacific Theater between December 7 1941 and March 2 1946

  • WWII: 1945

The WW II Victory Medal commemorates military service during the Second World War and is awarded to any member of the United States military, including members of the armed forces of the Government of the Philippine Islands, who served on active duty, or as a reservist, between December 7, 1941 and December 31, 1946.

  • Asia: September 2-24, 1945

The Navy Occupation Service Medal is a decoration of the United States Navy which was issued to Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard personnel who participated in the European and Asian occupation forces following the close of the Second World War. The decoration was also bestowed to personnel who performed duty in West Berlin between 1945 and 1990.

  • Korea: 1951-1953
  • Persian Gulf: 1990

The National Defense Service Medal was awarded for honorable active service for any period between June 27, 1950 and July 27, 1954; between January 1, 1961 and August 14, 1974; between August 2, 1990 and November 30, 1995 and between September 11, 2001 and a closing date to be determined.

  • November 20, 1951 – March 31, 1952

The Korean Service Medal is the primary United States decoration for participation in the Korean War and is awarded to any U.S. service member who performed duty in the Republic of Korea between June 27, 1950 and June 27, 1954.

Operation Desert ShieldStorm: August, 7 1990 – January 17, 1991

The Southwest Asia Service Medal is awarded for military service between August 2, 1990 and November 30, 1995 for participation during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. To be awarded the decoration a service member must also have served in the geographical land areas of any of the following nations:

  • Iraq
  • Kuwait
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Oman
  • Bahrain
  • Qatar
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Desert ShieldDesert Storm

The Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon is granted to any member of the U.S. Navy or United States Marines who are assigned to a Naval Afloat Command and who perform ninety or more consecutive days of a seaward deployment within a one year period.

  • December 14, 1944 – January 22, 1945

The Philippine Presidential Unit Citation was awarded to any unit of the U.S. military which had served in the defense or liberation of the Philippine Islands. The decoration was again bestowed to U.S. military units for relief efforts during several natural disasters which occurred in the Philippines between 1970 and 1972.

  • November, 22 1951 – March, 31 1952

The Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation is issued by the government of South Korea to both Korean military and foreign units. The last major issuance of the decoration was during the Korean War when the decoration was bestowed to several U.S., UK and Commonwealth military units. By order of the Korean government, the award was also retroactively authorized to every unit of the United States Army which had deployed to Korea between 1950 and 1954.

  • World War II: December, 14 1944 – January 1945

The Philippine Liberation Medal was presented to any service member, of both Philippine and allied militaries, who participated in the liberation of the Philippine Islands between the dates of October 17, 1944 and September 2, 1945.

  • Korea: November, 20 1951 – March, 31 1952

The United Nations Service Medal is awarded to any military service member of an Armed Force allied with South Korea who participated in the defense of Korea from North Korean aggression between the dates of June 27, 1950 and July 27, 1954.

  • Desert Storm: January, 17 1991 – February, 28 1991

The Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia) is awarded to members of the Coalition Forces who participated in Operation Desert Storm and the liberation of Kuwait between the dates of January 17, 1991 and February 28, 1991.

  • Kuwait: Desert Shield/Desert Storm

Awarded to members of the Military Coalition who served in support of Operation Desert Shield or Desert Storm in one or more of the following areas between August 2, 1990 and August, 31 1993: Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden, that portion of the Arabian Sea that lies north of 10º North latitude and west of 68º East longitude, as well as the total land areas of Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.

  • November, 20 1951

The Republic of Korea War Service Medal was awarded to U.S. military personnel who:

  • Served between the outbreak of hostilities, June 25, 1950, and the date the armistice was signed, July 27, 1953;
  • Were on permanent assignment or on temporary duty for 30 consecutive days or 60 non-consecutive days; and
  • Performed their duty within the territorial limits of Korea, in the waters immediately adjacent thereto or in aerial flight over Korea participating in actual combat operations or in support of combat operations.