The Battleship USS Iowa


Until the end of 1944, Iowa and New Jersey  bombarded Japanese positions on Luzon. The ships were often a target of aerial strikes. During a kamikaze attack on November 25, Iowa fired seventy-eight 126 mm rounds and approximately six thousand 40 and 20 mm ones within 10 minutes, downing three Japanese aircraft.
At the beginning of December, Iowa, which had been in continuous service since January, had to be sent to a dry-dock. The propeller shaft bearings, which caused strong vibration at speeds over 25 knots, required an overhaul and repair. However, before the ship reached Ulithi, she was overtaken by a typhoon, which further damaged the propeller shaft and swept away one of the battleship’s float planes. The overhaul in the floating drydock at Manaus confirmed the need for repairs in the mainland United States. After crossing the Pacific, on January 15, 1945, Iowa entered Hunters Point Shipyard in San Francisco, where she remained until March 19.
During the repair work the ship changed her appearance slightly. The conning tower was rebuilt, the bridge area was enclosed and new windows were fitted, similar to those on the battleships Missouri and Wisconsin. The paint scheme was also altered, the characteristic camouflage was replaced by Measure 22 scheme. It is worthy of mentioning that, at that time all the Iowa class battleships wore the same camouflage scheme, and from a distance they seemed to look identical.
Upon her return to the Pacific, Iowa was deployed to shell enemy positions on Okinawa, where on April 15, she relieved her sister ship,  New Jersey.
On July 1, along with the battleships Missouri and Wisconsin, she departed towards the Japanese home islands of Honshu and Hokkaido. Their task was the bombardment of the shore targets which were still out of range of B-29 bombers. On August 27, 1945, Iowa, along with Missouri, entered Sagami Bay, and two days later steamed into Tokyo Bay. During the surrender ceremony that took place on board the battleship Missouri, the Iowa provided radio communication.
The ship remained in the Japanese waters until September 20, when she left for the United States. On the way, approximately 1.5 thousand building workers from Okinawa were embarked. They were taken to the United States as part of the Operation “Magic Carpet”. The ship called at Seattle on October 15. Until January 1946 she was engaged in training operations, steaming along the western coast of the United States. Then, she left home waters and after crossing the Pacific, on January 27, 1946, again entered Tokyo Bay, where she served as flagship of the 5th Fleet. On March 25, 1946, Iowa returned to Long Island to resume her role as a training ship, participating in various exercises.
She served in that role until September 1948, when in San Francisco she was being prepared for deactivation. On March 24, 1949, the battleship was officially decommissioned into United States Navy reserve fleet.
The outbreak of the Korean War brought her reactivation and recommissioning  The reactivation work and assembling of her complement, who in the meantime was being trained on board the heavy cruisers, began on August 25 1951. It is worthy of mentioning, that during the reactivation work all the 20 mm Oerlikon guns were dismounted as they were deemed obsolete in the jet aircraft era. Both catapults were also removed and so were the floatplanes. The crane for operating the floatplanes was retained for working the ship boats. The removal of Oerlikons and catapults made the quarterdeck more spacious and therefore a perfect place for operating helicopters, which saw large scale use during the Korean conflict.
After trials and training exercises along the west coast, the fully operational battleship was deployed to the Far East. She called at the US naval base in Yokosuka on April 1, 1952, and by relieving the battleship Wisconsin, became the flagship of the 7th Fleet. Her service during the Korean War, similarly to that in the closing month of World War II, was passed in bombarding North Korean positions. The guns of the battleship destroyed ammunition dumps, supply depots and bunkers of the North Korean army, thus supporting the South Korean troops. Apart from those tasks, the ship often participated in search and rescue mission for pilots of the downed American aircraft.
On October 17, 1952, Iowa left Korean waters and returned to the naval base in Yokosuka, only to put to sea for a long journey to the Norfolk Naval Base on the east cost of the United Sates. There she was dry-docked and prepared to serve as a training ship. For the years to come, Iowa made numerous training voyages and international courtesy calls.
In the middle of 1953, the battleship served as flagship of the US 2nd Fleet during the NATO Operation “Mariner” in north European waters. In June 1954, on her way to the base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba,  Iowa had a rare opportunity to meet with her three remaining sister ships. For the next few weeks, the “Quadruplet” operated as a task force in Caribbean waters. At the turn of 1954-55, Iowa served in the Mediterranean Sea as a flagship of the consecutive commanders of the US 6th Fleet. In September 1957, she took part in the NATO’s Operation “Strikeback” in the North Atlantic.
At the end of 1957 a decision was made to decommission the battleship, because of her high maintenance costs. Iowa was towed to Philadelphia and on January 24, 1958, deactivated for 24 years, becoming a part of the so-called “Mothball Fleet” with other similarly treated warships.