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Battleships in the Cold War Era

With the end of World War II, many of the battleships were mothballed or sold as memorials to the various states whose names they carried. Only a few of these majestic ships remained in service until 1948 when the last active battleship was redesignated a training ship and the Battleship-Cruiser Force, US Atlantic Fleet, was renamed Cruiser Force, US Atlantic Fleet.

The shore bombardment mission justified the retention of the big-gun ships in the post-war era and brought them back to active duty on three different occasions.

The battleships returned during the Korean Conflict (1950-1953) for use in shore bombardment. The Battleship-Cruiser Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet as a TyCom was resurrected on Oct. 15, 1952. With the Korean armistice and by 1957, the battleships began being decommissioned again. By Mar. 8, 1958, there were no active battleships and the type command reverted to Cruiser Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet.

USS New Jersey (BB 62). was brought back into service in 1968 and served as a gun platform off the coast of Vietnam. Her nine 16-inch guns could throw a 2,700-pound projectile more than 20 miles. The ship was again decommissioned in 1969, but was recommissioned in 1982. She was modernized, receiving an installation of 16 Harpoon missiles, with a range of about 60 miles, and 32 Tomahawk missiles, with a range of about 500 miles.

In May 1984, the United States Navy began recalling the remaining Iowa-class battleships for active duty, following modernization and updating. These weapons platforms were needed for an expanded 600-ship Navy to lead battle groups and help establish the U.S. naval presence around the globe. The 600-ship Navy was never realized and, instead, defense budgets continued to shrink. For this and other like reasons, USS Iowa (BB 61) and USS New Jersey (BB 62) were decommissioned for a final time by early 1991. The invasion of neighboring Kuwait by Iraqi dictator Sadam Hussein in February 1991 postponed the fate of USS Missouri (BB 63) and USS Wisconsin (BB 64). The big guns of the two battleships hammered at land targets in Kuwait in support of the Allied ground offensive. Iraq agreed to a cease fire agreement on Feb. 28, 1991.

But the cost of operating these ships, the labor-intensive manning, and the more modern, more powerful cruisers and destroyers of today's Navy led to their final decommissioning as well. The last battleship on active duty was USS Missouri (BB 63) decommissioned Mar. 31, 1992. Two were kept on the Naval Vessel Register for possible future employment.

In the 21st century, there are no battleships in the United States Navy.



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