70 Years Ago: The Big Stick arrives on Battleship Row

USS Iowa (BB-61) underway in Pearl Harbor with an escort of harbor tugs, while en route to the U.S. at the end of her Korean War combat tour. The photograph is dated 28 October 1952. Middle tug is Anacot (YTB-253). Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. Catalog #: NH 44539

In the above, note that Iowa has lost her WWII seaplane catapults– her class used helicopters during their Korean tours-– as well as her 20mm Orelikons but still maintains her 40mm Bofors batteries.

The NHHC also has this great bow shot in their files from the same day.

USS Iowa (BB-61) Steaming into Pearl Harbor with rails manned, 28 October 1952, while en route to the U.S. following her first Korean War deployment. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. Catalog #: NH 44538

As well as a direct overhead shot.

USS Iowa (BB-61) off Pearl Harbor, en route to the U.S. at the end of her Korean War combat tour. The photograph is dated 28 October 1952. Note the ship’s hull number (61) and U.S. Flag painted atop her forward turrets. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. Catalog #: NH 44536

Iowa commissioned 22 February 1943 and earned nine battle stars for her World War II service. Post-war, she served as Fifth Fleet flagship and conducted a variety of sea training, drills, and maneuvers with the Fleet before she entered mothballs in 1949.

However, her slumber was short.

As detailed by DANFS: 

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.

A beautiful period Kodachrome of USS Iowa (BB-61) hurling a 16-inch shell toward a North Korean target, in mid-1952. Some 16,689 rounds were fired from her main and secondary batteries on enemy installations during her stint off Korea. Note her 40mm quad gun tubs. Official U.S. Navy photo 80-G-K-13195 from the U.S. Navy Naval History and Heritage Command.

She added two Korean War battlestars to her tally, then spent the next five years in a series of Cold War operations in the Med– where she was Sixth Fleet flag– and throughout the North Atlantic region.

Iowa decommissioned 24 February 1958 for a second time, then entered the Atlantic Reserve Fleet at Philadelphia, where she remained until a trip to Pascagoula for her second recommissioning in 1984– and I was a goofy ten-year-old in the stands at Ingalls West Bank that day, my heart bursting.

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