Battleships/USS Wisconsin BB-64


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USS Wisconsin BB-64

Wisconsin was formally recommissioned on 22 October 1988 in Pascagoula, Mississippi under the command of Captain Jerry M. Blesch, USN. Assigned to the United States Atlantic fleet, she was subsequently homeported at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, where she became the centerpiece of her own surface action group (SAG), also referred to as a battleship battle group (BBBG). Wisconsin spent the first part of 1989 conducting training exercises in the Atlantic Ocean and off the coast of Puerto Rico before returning to the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard for a post recommissioning shakedown that lasted the rest of the year. In mid-1990 the battleship participated in a fleet exercise. [4] On 15 January 1991, Operation Desert Storm commenced operations, and Wisconsin found herself serving alongside her younger sister Missouri, just as she had done in Korea forty years previously. Both Wisconsin and Missouri launched Tomahawk Missile attacks against Iraq; they were among the first ships to fire cruise missiles during the 1991 Gulf War. Wisconsin served as the Tomahawk Land Attack Missile (TLAM) strike commander for the Persian Gulf, directing the sequence of launches that marked the opening of Operation Desert Storm and firing a total of 24 of her own TLAMs during the first two days of the campaign. [17] Wisconsin also assumed the responsibility of the local anti-surface warfare coordinator for the Northern Persian Gulf Surface Action Group.

Wisconsin fires her big guns on Iraqi positions in then Iraqi-occupied Kuwait during the 1991 Persain Gulf War. Wisconsin, escorted by Nicholas, relieved Missouri on 6 February, then answered her first combat call for gunfire support since March 1952. The most recently recommissioned battleship sent 11 shells across 19mi (31km) of space to destroy an Iraqi artillery battery in southern Kuwait. Using an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) as a spotter in combat for the first time, Wisconsin pounded Iraqi targets and Iraqi boats that had been used during raids along the Saudi Arabian coast. [17] On 7 February, Wisconsin fired her guns against Iraqi artillery sites, missile facilities, and electronic warfare sites along the coast. She also targeted naval sites with her 16in (410mm) guns, firing several rounds which severely damaged or sunk 15 Iraqi boats, and destroyed several piers at the Khawr al-Mufattah Marina. [4] In response to calls for fire support from US and coalition forces, Wisconsin's turrets boomed again on 9 February, blasting bunkers and artillery sites, and shelling Iraqi troop positions near Khafji after the Iraqis were ousted from the city by Saudi and Qatari armor. On 21 February, one of Wisconsin's UAVs observed several trucks resupplying an Iraqi command post; in response, Wisconsin trained her 16in (410mm) guns on the complex, leveling or heavily damaging 10 of the buildings. Wisconsin and Missouri alternated positions on the gun line, using their 16in (410mm) guns to destroy enemy targets and soften defenses along the Kuwait coastline for a possible amphibious assault

On the night of 23 February, Missouri and Wisconsin turned their big guns on Kuwait's Faylaka Island to support the US-led coalition ground offensive to free Kuwait from the Iraqi occupation forces. The two ships were to conduct a diversionary assault aimed at convincing the Iraqi forces arrayed along the shores of Faylaka Island that Coalition forces were preparing to launch an amphibious invasion. As part of this attack, Missouri and Wisconsin were directed to shell known Iraqi defensive positions on the island. Shortly after Missouri completed her shelling of Faylaka Island, Wisconsin, while still over the horizon (and thus out of visual range of the Iraqi forces) launched her RQ-2 Pioneer Unmanned Aerial Vehicle to spot for her 16in (410mm) guns. As Wisconsin's drone approached Faylaka Island, the pilot of the drone was instructed to fly the vehicle low over Iraqi positions so that the soldiers would know that they were once again being targeted by a battleship. [16] Iraqi troops on the ground heard the Pioneers distinctive buzzing sound, and having witnessed the effects of Missouri's artillery strike on their trenchline the Iraqi troops decided to signal their willingness to surrender by waving makeshift white flags, an action dutifully noted aboard Wisconsin. Amused at this sudden development, the men assigned to the drones aircrew called Wisconsin's commanding officer, Captain David S. Bill III, and asked, "Sir, they want to surrender, what should I do with them?"This surrender to Wisconsins Pioneer has since become one of the most remembered moments of the Gulf War; the incident was also the first-ever surrender of enemy troops to an unmanned aircraft controlled by a ship.The next day, Wisconsin answered two separate call fire support missions for coalition forces by suppressing Iraqi troops barricaded in a pair of bunkers. After witnessing the effects of Wisconsin's strike against the Iraqi positions an elated Saudi marine commander commented over the radio, "I wish we had a battleship in our navy." Both Wisconsin and Missouri passed the million-pound mark of ordnance delivered on Iraqi targets by the time President George H. W. Bush ended hostilities on 28 February. With one last salvo from her big guns, Wisconsin fired the last naval gunfire support mission of the war. Wisconsin remained in the Persian Gulf after the cease-fire took effect, and returned home on 28 March 1991. During the six months Wisconsin spent in the Persian Gulf, she had flown 348 UAV hours, recorded 661 safe helicopter landings, steamed 46,000nmi (53,000mi; 85,000km), fired 319 16in (410mm) rounds[20], 881 5-inch (130mm) rounds, 5,200 20mm Phalanx CIWS rounds. [4], and launched 24 Tomahawk cruise missiles[2