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USS WISCONSIN - (BB-64) BATTLESHIP

The second Wisconsin (BB-64) was laid down on 25 Jan. 1941 at the Philadelphia Navy Yard; launched on 7 Dec. 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Walter S. Goodland; and commissioned on 16 Apr. 1944, Capt. Earl E. Stone in command.
After her trials and initial training in the Chesapeake Bay, Wisconsin departed Norfolk, Va., on 7 Jul. 1944, bound for the British West Indies. Following her shakedown, conducted out of Trinidad, the third of the Iowa-class battleships to join the Fleet returned to her builder's yard for post-shakedown repairs and alterations.
On 24 Sept. 1944, Wisconsin 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 Carolines. Upon reaching Ulithi on 9 December, she joined Admiral William F. Halsey's 3d 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 3d Fleet's Fast Carrier Task Force (TF) 38 - supported in part by Wisconsin - rendered Japanese facilities at Manila largely useless. Between 14 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, 18 Dec. 1944, 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 — USS Hull (DD-350), USS Monaghan (DD-354), and USS 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. By-passing 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 to 22 Jan. 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 heavily damaged docks, storage areas, and aircraft facilities. At least 112 enemy planes would never again see operational service. Formosa, already struck on 3 and 4 January, again fell victim to the marauding American airmen, being smashed again on 9, 15, 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.
Subsequently assigned to the 5th Fleet — when Admiral Spruance relieved Admiral Halsey as Commander of the Fleet — Wisconsin moved northward with the redesignated TF 58 as the carriers headed for the Tokyo area. On 16 Feb. 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.
 

USS WISCONSIN - (BB-64) BATTLESHIP






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