BZ's USS New Jersey Battleship

Photo Gallery

On a recent trip to Philadelphia Pennsylvania, I made a slight detour to visit the mighty battleship USS New Jersey in Camden, New Jersey. The USS New Jersey (BB-62) was the 2nd of 4 Iowa class battleships produced by the United States during WWII. Widely considered the most deadly and effective battleships ever, the Iowa class fast battleships served in every major conflict from WWII to the 1st Gulf War in 1991. Not until 2006 were the last of these Iowa class battleships finally removed from the Naval Register.
Nikon D300 w/ 18-105mm VR lens, and 11-16mm F2.8 Tokina lens - Bernard Zee

Just a short driver over the Delaware River from Philly, is Camden, New Jersey. I guess it's only fitting to have the New Jersey in New Jersey!

USS New Jersey (BB-62), nicknamed 'Big J' was the 2nd of the Iowa class fast battleships, and earned more battle stars for combat action than the other 3 sister ships.

Along both sides of the walkway to the ship, were lined these granite memorials describing the various combat actions that the New Jersey participated in.

The main guns of the New Jersey consists of nine 16 inch 50 caliber Mark 7 guns, 3 guns in 3 turrets.

It was a treat to see that they left the Big J with the weapons upgrades from her latest reincarnation. Here are 2 of the quad Tomahawk cruise missile launchers.

The Big J's secondary battery consisted of 5 inch 38 caliber guns mounted in twin gun dual purpose turrets. While a lot smaller than the 16 inch guns, the 5 inchers could still reach out to targets 9 miles away!

A beautiful day for a tour, as some enthusiastic school kids wave Hi!

The USS New Jersey was decommissioned for the last time in 1991, and became a museum ship at Camden, NJ in 2001. There's an entrance fee to board her, but it's fairly reasonable, and goes toward maintenance of the vessel. Climb the stars to the right to board the ship.

Armed with my red self-guided tour sticker, and the provided recorded audio commentator, it's full steam ahead!

Here's a view of the New Jersey right before boarding. The Iowa class ships have what I consider to be the most beautiful lines of any warship.

Not only did they look good, the Iowa class battleships were the fastest battleships ever produced - capable of dashing up to 35 knots. They normally would be run much slower than that of course, as they would quickly be out of reach of their support vessels.

Once on board, you're greeted by the United States flag, and the flags of the various armed services.

Just how big those main guns are is really hard to convey. Each one of those 16 inch guns can shoot a 2700lb armor piercing projectile up to 24 miles away! Big Bada Boom!

Yes, I'm really enjoying myself! As can be seen here, the ship's teak deck has seen better days. I believe they're trying to raise money to have it replaced. Not going to be cheap though!

As part of the tour, there's the opportunity to beat your head against all sorts of hard metal surfaces in one of the 16 inch gun turrets!

It's ridiculously crowded inside the turret, and I cannot fanthom how 27 crew members can fit in there (with another 50 crew members in the turret's cylindrical armored foundation below) - much less work to load and fire these monster guns in times of war!

In separated compartments in the turret, each of the 3 guns is individually crewed and serviced. Here is where the Gun Captain, gun cradle operator, rammer operator, and powder hoist operator work. Better not be claustrophobic!

While the Iowa class battleships may not have had the biggest guns ever (the Japanese Yamato class battleships had 18 inch guns!), they were no doubt the deadliest. That's because in order to be effective, one must be able to hit what you're aiming at. The radar range estimation and fire control computer that the Iowa class had made them untouchable in that regard.

Here's a shot of (what I believe to be) the analog fire control computer. Those dials input the various variables, and the analog computer comes up with a firing solution.

Here's looking through the rangefinder (aimed at the USS Olympia across the river).

Gotta watch that head coming out!

A well trained crew can load and fire the 16 inch guns once every 30 seconds! More than 50 years later, the 16"/50 caliber Mark 7 gun remains the most powerful and destructive naval gun in the world.

Following the red self guided tour line, we go inside the ship and see the Admiral's quarters. Not too bad, bigger than some dorm rooms!

A veritable maze of doorways and corridors inside the ship. Very easy to get lost in!

Back outside, is the view of the 5 inch guns and Philly across the river.

Forward of the ship is the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.

Here's a shot showing the insane 17 inch thick armored citadel.

From inside this heavily protected vault, that they can steer the ship.

Rudder and speed control indicators, overlooking the forward guns.

Moving around the sides, we run across R2D2 - or the Phalanx Close In Weapon System (CIWS). The Phalanx CIWS is a 'point defense' automated radar-guided 20mm gatling gun, meant to shoot down incoming anti-ship missles. The last modernization program outfitted the Big J with 4 of these systems.

Here's one of the Armored Box Launchers simulating a BGM-109 Tomahawk missile launch!

The New Jersey has some roundabouts that it can send forth for logistics use.

There are various tours that can be selected for the New Jersey. Each of these other tours explore other parts of the ship, and have an experienced docent to explain and answer questions.

I prefer to travel at my own pace, so I naturally chose the self guided tour. Here about to stop at the audio station #16, the 5 inch gun turret.

Couldn't go in there, good thing too, as it was even more cramped than the 16 inch turret!

A side view of the 5 inch gun turrets. These 5 inch Mark 12 guns were tied to Mark 37 Gun fire control systems, and were used to fight off Japanese aircraft. Radar and proximity fuse made life difficult for attacking planes. Removed after modernization were Eighty(!) 40mm Bofors and Forty-nine 20mm Oerlikon anti-aircraft guns.

This is I believe the AN/SPS-49 long range air search radar.

This is a shot of the Mk 37 ship Gun Fire Control System. This was used to provide remote and automatic targeting of the 5 inch guns against ships, aircraft, and shore targets.

Behind the Mk 37 GFCS, is the Mk 38 Director. The Director has optical sights, rangefinder (long thin boxes sticking out each side), and a Mark 13 Fire control radar antenna (rectangular shape on top). The Mk 38 Gun Fire Control System controls the targetting of the large 16 inch guns.

Continuing on, we stop by the computer room - with equipment obviously added on in follow on modernization programs.

Looks like a battleship switchboard. Hello operator? Get me the engine room!

Now THAT is a shot I would have loved to have gotten. Alas, only in history books now - as all the battleships have been permanently retired. Well, and not to mention the fact that I'd have to be a combat photographer or something like that!

This was the museum section of the ship. The map shows the battle stars the New Jersey earned throughout her long career during WWII, Korean War, Vietnam war, Lebanan, and the Gulf War.

Must have a large kitchen to feed 2,700 men!

There's a small chapel that can accomodate a few sailors at a time...

Here's a shot of the spacious cafeteria (well, spacious since there isn't 1000 sailors crowded in there trying to eat at the same time!) towards the rear of the New Jersey.

For the really naughty sailor, there's the brig. Back then, they really just did give bread and water.

Like a small city, the New Jersey has all the essentials. Like a laundry, haircut, ships store, etc.

We exit out the stern of the ship, where there's the 3rd 16 inch turret.

Beside it is the Seasprite helicopter. The New Jersey initially used a float plane in WWII, but switched over to helicopters during the Korean war.

Using the wide angle lens, I try to get some different 16 inch gun shots.

These guns are simply massive! Wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere close when they go off.

The Kaman SH-2F Seasprite helicopter provided ship based anti-submarine, anti-ship, medical evacuation, and search and rescue capability. It also provided gunnary spotting for the main guns. The Seasprite was used over Beirut in 1983-84 for reconnaissance and gneral intel gathering.

Even though the Iowa class battleships were built to duke it out with other heavily armed and armored ships of the line, they never got a chance to fight it out toe to toe. The huge 16 inch guns were used for shore bombardments only. The U.S. and Japanese battleships 'almost' fought during Leyte Gulf in WWII, but it was not to be.

Even though aircraft carriers and airpower became the new centers of gravity, the majesty and allure of the fast battlesship lingered on. Through modernization programs, the New Jersey was brought out of retirement throughout the years, and upgraded to the missile age.

But nothing makes a statement quite like 2700 lbs of 16 inch high explosives when you really want to get someones' attention!

Alas, time has caught up with these old warriors. It was very expensive to keep them going, especially in times of peace. New Jersey was decomissioned in '91, and missed participating in Dessert Storm.

As a Musuem ship, it stands ever proud. Letting visitors experience a bit of history, and what it must have been like back then.

The New Jersey is the most decorated battleship in naval history, receiving 9 battle stars in WWII, 4 for Korea, 2 in Vietnam, and 4 in Lebanan and Persian Gulf area.

The sister ships of the New Jersey include the Iowa, Missouri, and Wisconsin. Of those 4 ships, only the New Jersey and Missouri are currently setup for tours. The USS Missouri is setup as a museum ship at Pearl Harbor - which while close to the Arizona memorial, requires a seperate tour to get to.

I must say I had a grand time visiting the Big J, and would hearitly recommend anyone in the area to do so as well!

Here's a distorted view panoramic attempt. At 890 ft (almost 3 football fields), I couldn't fit it all in one shot!