The Iowa-class battleships were six fast battleships ordered by the US Navy in 1939 to escort the Fast Carrier Task Forces that would operate in the Pacific Theater of World War II.
Only four were completed, two more were canceled in 1945, at war's end.
The four battleships that entered service were: USS Iowa, USS New Jersey, USS Missouri and USS Wisconsin.
All of them have seen plenty of action in the Second World War and the Korean War. But after some time spent decommissioned in the reserve fleet, all of them were reactivated in the 80's as part of the 600-ship Navy, a program initiated by President Ronald Reagan.
The Iowa-class battleships had nine 16 in (410mm) 50 cal Mark 7 guns and 20 5in (130mm) 38 Cal Mark 12 guns, 80 × 40 mm/56 cal anti-aircraft guns and 49 × 20 mm/70 cal anti-aircraft cannons.
They were fast, also, despite the impressive size of over 270m in length. Their speed was over 30 knots.
USS Iowa (BB-61)
This 45,000-ton battleship was the first in her class. Impressive by size and firepower, Iowa entered service in 1942. With 212,000 hp, Iowa could reach an impressive top speed of 33 knots.
After serving in the Second World War, Iowa was decommissioned in 1958.
But, in the early 1980's, the ship was reactivated and took part in joint military exercises with European ships. After an accident that killed 47 sailors in 1989, she was decommissioned for the last time in 1990. Today, Iowa is a museum ship at the Pacific Battleship Center in Los Angeles.
USS New Jersey (BB-62)
Nicknamed 'Big J', this was the second battleship from the Iowa-class. Launched in December 1942, New Jersey has seen action in the Pacific theater, shelling targets on Guam and Okinawa. She has also served in the Korean War. Reactivated in 1968, she was sent for a brief mission in Vietnam. A second reactivation came in 1980 as part of the 600-ship Navy program. New Jersey was modernized to carry missiles.
She was decommissioned in 1991 after serving 21 years in the active fleet. She was donated to the Home Port Alliance in Camden, New Jersey and has become a museum ship.
USS Missouri (BB-63)
The third battleship in the Iowa-class, 'Big Mo' entered service in 1944. She took part in the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. After the WWII she fought in the Korean War from 1950 to 1953. Decommissioned in 1955, Missouri entered the reserve fleets. As part of the 600-ship Navy program, she was reactivated and modernized in 1984. The ship will participate in the Gulf War, providing fire support during Operation Desert Storm in 1991.
USS Missouri was famous for being the place where the Japanese Surrender Act was signed on September 2nd, 1945.
Today, she is a museum ship in Pearl Harbour, Honolulu, Hawai.
USS Missouri was used in the movie Battleship. Head below for a short video documentary:
USS Wisconsin (BB-64)
The fourth and last battleship in the Iowa-class is USS Wisconsin. Launched in December 1943, she is one of the warships with a long service history. Used in the Pacific theater in the Second World War, and then the Korean War.
Reactivated on August 1st, 1986 and participated in Operation Desert Storm. Nicknamed 'Wisky', the battleship measured 270, in length. Top speed was 30 knots.
Today, she is museum ship operated by Nauticus, The National Maritime Center in Norfolk, Virginia.
Photo credits: Wikimedia