USS NEW JERSEY
CHRONOLOGY OF OUTSTANDING EVENTS
NARRATIVE 1968 HISTORY OF USS NEW JERSEY (BB-62)
In August of 1967, the decision was made to commission NEW JERSEY for the third time, this time to serve for the duration of hostilities in Southeast Asia. The program change decision which approved the activation of the battleship was "for employment in the Pacific Fleet to augment the naval gunfire support force in Southeast Asia". The real motivation behind the activation was that "a major calibre gunfire support ship is necessary if we are to continue, after October 1968, the present deployment level of two such ships (major calibre gunfire support) in Southeast Asia". Much has been said as to why the Secretary of Defense chose the battleship over another eight-inch cruiser. Some contend it was because the 16-inch guns have a greater range and pack a more powerful punch. This was not the rationale of the Secretary of Defense. His primary contention was that the battleship was significantly harder, i.e., less vulnerable than the eight-inch cruiser. Additionally, the Secretary's decision stated "analysis shows that the battleship with 16-inch guns provides greater effectiveness for equal cost than the cruiser with eight-inch guns in this limited mission (naval gunfire support)".
There were four battleships in the Reserve Fleet. The decision to activate NEW JERSEY rather than any of the other three was non-political. NEW JERSEY was, in fact, in better material condition than any of the others. NEW JERSEY had had an extensive overhaul just prior to mothballing. MISSOURI had a speed restriction as a result of the grounding off Norfolk. WISCONSIN had had a fire forward of the wardroom in the fire control tower support, which destroyed much of the electrical wiring vital for fire control.
Some controversy has also surrounded NEW JERSEY's mission. NEW JERSEY was activated for a single purpose and a single mission. "The battleship's sole mission will be shore bombardment", stated the program change decision. It was intended by the Secretary that the activation and installation of equipment would be based on independent operation, as a non-flagship. Activation was also to be based "upon the assumption that the ship will be mothballed upon termination of hostilities in Southeast Asia", and for a useful life of three years. Activation and equipment and outfitting decisions were fully in accordance with the intent of those directives.
It has been said that the activation was austere. The Secretary, in fact, used that word in his program change decision. Twenty-seven million dollars was authorized for activation, alteration and procurement of newly installed equipment. Only about $21 million was actually expended.
The existing stockpile of 16-inch shells and powder was reworked to ensure availability for the first few deployments of NEW JERSEY. The initial schedule in the summer of 1967 was for NEW JERSEY to be on station off the coast of Vietnam, as part of the naval gunfire support force in Southeast Asia, prior to the end of September 1968 and to remain during the northeast monsoon season for a period of six months ending in March 1969.
The most controversial item concerning NEW JERSEY was how many officers and enlisted men would be required to man the ship efficiently and effectively. The Navy's initial request was reduced by the Office of the Secretary of Defense to a maximum of 1,400 enlisted and 70 officers. The Navy disagreed and requested an additional 227 enlisted men. This reclama was not approved and the 1,400 enlisted ceiling was reaffirmed by Mr. Nitze, Deputy Secretary of Defense, on the 25th of November 1967.
This decision was modified four months later, however. In March 1968, as a result of a request by the Prospective Commanding Officer, and after lengthy negotiation with the Office of the Secretary of Defense, an increase of 156 enlisted men was authorized. This brought the authorized manning level to 1,556 enlisted men and 70 officers.
In reviewing the chronology of events, it is first worthy of note that the Department of Defense had set down a definite team schedule for the dreadnought's reactivation. In August 1967, she would be moved from her berth of 9 years, from between her gallant sisters, IOWA and WISCONSIN, to drydock 3, and thence to Pier 6 in January. Here a force of 2,000 civilian shipyard employees would team up with the battleship's nucleus crew (200 enlisted men and the prospective heads of departments plus 40 officers) and work throughout the fall and winter, and have the mighty ship ready in the Spring. Meanwhile, the balance crew was training on the West Coast, with the Prospective Executive Officer, Commander J. S. Elfelt
While the days were devoted to rigorous training and drill, one of the highlights of the pre-commissioning detail was a dance held in the honor of NEW JERSEYMEN, at the Balboa Park Auditorium on 21 January 1968. Seven hundred men attended the party, which featured country and western and rock 'n roll bands. The main attraction, though, was an abundance of feminine pulchritude. A quick canvas of San Diego State College and other local schools produced more than enough dancing partners.
On 18 March, the balance crew would arrive in Philadelphia and move aboard. Just eight days later, on 26 March, the ship would go to sea for the first time in 11 years. On 6 April, NEW JERSEY would be placed back in commission by the Commandant, FOURTH Naval District.
On the 15th of that month the ship would perform sea trials for the Board of Inspection and Survey, which would include firing her big guns for the first time to verify her structural integrity. On the 16th of May she would leave Philadelphia, transit the Panama Canal on the 4th of June,, and arrive in her homeport of Long Beach, California on the 11th.
After a summer of shakedown and refresher training, NEW JERSEY would depart Long Beach on 5 September and arrive off the coast of Vietnam by the end of September 1968.
The men of NEW JERSEY, under the command of Captain J. Edward Snyder, Jr., took this schedule as a challenge. Every deadline was met and on 30 September, NEW JERSEY took station in a gray dawn off the coast of Vietnam's Demilitarized Zone. With the eyes of the world on her, at 0730, the battleship unleashed the first 16-inch barrage fired in anger in over 15 years.
The road from Philadelphia to Vietnam had not been an easy one. Many decisions had to be made. When the idea of reactivating a battleship was conceived, it was intended only to partially reactivate the ship and man her with a skeleton crew. Would all the guns be reactivated? Would the entire engineering plant be activated? In effect, would NEW JERSEY serve as nothing more than a floating gun platform? This question was answered on 18 January 1968 when the ship's Prospective Commanding Officer, Captain J. Edward Snyder, Jr., called his officers together for his introductory remarks: "Gentlemen, let there be no doubt in your minds. NEW JERSEY will be a battleship and nothing less".
In addition to the nine 16-inch guns, the 20 five-inch 38's would be brought back into service. All eight boilers and all four main engines would be activated. Work, which had commenced in August of 1967, continued through the fall and winter. By 1 January 1968, NEW JERSEY had begun to breathe life. Guns were elevated and depressed. Directors could be seen training and locking onto imaginary targets. Steam again flowed through miles of pipe. The ship was a daily beehive of activity. Since the dreadnought's crew would number approximately one-half of the World War II complement, there would be more living space. Extra bunks were removed and remaining bunks were relocated to allow each man more living space. The benches were removed from the mess decks and four man tables were installed. Tile was laid on interior deck spaces to facilitate cleaning and cut down on man hours required for upkeep.
The loading that had begun in mid-January and which was to continue until deployment from Long Beach reached it's first milestone on 16 March with the moving aboard of the crew. A fully-operational crew 5 mess greeted them with a tasty traditional meal of roast beef. The refuse of a long yard period was cleaned up. Messing spaces were cleaned to spotless perfection. Yet as 26 March, the day the new crew would take the ship to sea for the first time, approached, the weather decks remained cluttered with air lines, water lines, steam lines and heavy equipment. A Philadelphia Bulletin writer, Mr. George Staab, visited the ship briefly the day before NEW JERSEY was to get underway. He expressed his doubt that the ship could be made ready in the short time remaining. "She'll be ready", the Captain assured him. And, she was.
At 0610, Tuesday, 26 March, the world's only active battleship edged slowly away from Pier Six, with the assistance of six tugs, and slipped into the main stream of the Delaware River. What would have been a routine evolution for any other ship was an historical event for NEW JERSEY. The cameras, microphones and pencils of 55 media representatives recorded the events of the day. Throughout that day and the next every system on the ship came under the careful scrutiny of 295 shipyard employees, the Shipyard Commander, Captain Floyd W. Gooch, and the officers and men of NEW JERSEY. At 0600 on the 27th, off the Virginia Capes, NEW JERSEY's engineers began building steam for a full power run, a brutal test of machinery that would extend the battleship to her fullest capacities. At 1039 the pit log read 30 knots. And there had been no casualties. Speed was reduced for a time while the crew ate lunch, and in the afternoon another high speed run was commenced - this one to be full power. The tension in the men's faces was evident, but the only words spoken were those of the officer of the deck and the lee helmsman. All engines were ahead flank. "Indicate 190 rpms", ordered the COD.
"190 turns, aye... 190 indicated and answered for", replied the lee helm. More turns were added. 195.. .200.. .202. At 1547 the OOD ordered maximum turns, 207.
"Pit log reads 35.2 knots", said the lee helm. There were no casualties. NEW JERSEY kept up this tremendous speed for six hours, and when the Captain was satisfied with the performance of his engineering plant, he decided it was time for the final test: to place maximum strain on the plant by going from all ahead flank to all back emergency. Young crew members braced for a tremendous shock. But the Captain appeared confident as he watched the engine order telegraph.
When the order was given there was surprisingly little shock. One could feel the ship slowing, but gear did not tumble about and there were no shuddering vibrations. If anything was noticeable, it was the silence.
A smoke float had been dropped over the side at the instant of reversal to measure the ship's forward progress. It took two miles for the ship to go dead in the water and start to make sternway.
After the tests, a thorough inspection was made of the engineering plant. It checked out perfectly.
As the ship approached Pier Four, Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, at 1400 on Thursday, 28 March, Captain Snyder ordered a broom run up the halyard for all to see - the Navy's traditional symbol for a clean sweep.
Now the ship must be readied for the most significant step to date in her re-activation: the re-commissioning. That she would rejoin the Fleet on 6 April was by now a well known fact; local and national news media had seen to that. Attendance at the ceremony would be by invitation only, and the number of requests was astounding - over 20,000. The requests came from as far away as Europe. Many were from former crew members, other battleship sailors, and Navy personnel-both active and retired. Some were from people who knew nothing more about NEW JERSEY than the tremendous nostalgia she invoked. NEW JERSEYMEN were at first surprised by the amount of public notice they received.
Captain Snyder analyzed it this way. "NEW JERSEY represents the best of both worlds. She combines the latest in technological advances with the glory of the past. NEW JERSEY is one of the few remaining symbols of a time when the United States was undisputedly the world's greatest sea power. There are still a great many Americans who would like to identify with this period in history."
Physical space at the ceremony was limited and invitations were sent out on a first-come, first-serve basis. About 10,000 people attended on a warm Saturday afternoon, the first truly fine day of the spring. Yet the mood of the day was somber, for that week Dr. Martin Luther King had been shot. Philadelphia, like the rest of the nation, was not over the shock. Nevertheless., the ship and her company were polished for the big day. Red, white and blue bunting draped from the lifelines and from the stage atop turret three, where the ceremony would take place. One could sense, the excitement among the officers and men of NEW JERSEY and in the huge crowd gathered on the pier.
At 1415 the dignitaries began to arrive. Sharing the speaker's platform with Captain Snyder were: the Honorable Paul R. Ignatius, Secretary of the Navy; the Honorable Randolph S. Driver, Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Manpower) the Honorable Robert A. Frosch, Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research and Development) ; Admiral Thomas H. r4oorer, Chief of Naval Operations; General Leonard F. Chapman, Jr. Commandant of the Marine Corps; Admiral Ephraim P. Holmes, Commander in Chief Atlantic; Vice Admiral John B. Colwell,. Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Fleet Operations and Readiness) ; Rear Admiral Robert H. Speck, Commandant, FOURTH Naval District; Rear Admiral Edward J. Fahy, Commander, Naval Ships Systems Command; Brigadier General William C. Doyle, representing the Honorable Richard J. Hughes, Governor of New Jersey; and Captain Floyd W. Gooch, Jr., Commander, Philadelphia Naval Shipyard
Promptly at 1425 the Navy Band began the USS NEW JERSEY March, composed especially for this day. NEW JERSEY's Senior Chaplain, Commander Harold D. Bodle, read the invocation as a hush came over the crowd. Captain Floyd W. Gooch, Jr., Commander, Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, pronounced the welcoming address. He was followed by Rear Admiral Speck.
Then the Honorable Mr. Ignatius stood at the podium for the address. Echoing the words of President Woodrow Wilson, spoken a half century ago, he said: "We shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts - for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own governments, for the rights and liberties of small nations, for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free..."
And so the battleship, symbol of the might of a nation, was re-commissioned to serve in a conflict of power and ideals in a small country in Southeast Asia. Soon the ship would be patrolling the shores of Vietnam, providing heavy gunfire support for allied troops engaged in a struggle "for the rights and liberties of small nations". Following the re-commissioning directive by Rear Admiral Speck, Captain Snyder proudly read his orders and accepted command. He then directed the Executive Officer, Commander J. S. Elfelt, to set the first watch. A new era in the life of the dreadnought had begun.
With the commissioning, the ship now officially belonged to NEW JERSEYMEN. The men who had breathed life into the 58,000-ton dreadnought seemed to take a new pride in their ship. She was ready for sea. Engineering trials two weeks earlier had proved that. She looked fit. Paint was fresh and clean. The decks had been thoroughly cleaned of eight months of yard work. Her next test, and her final one before transiting to the West Coast, would be Inspection and Survey, commencing on 15 April.
On the 10th, NEW JERSEY hosted 475 members of the South Jersey Council of the Navy League for a tour of the ship and subsequent dinner in the mess decks. NEW JERSEYMEN, already accustomed to wide public notice and an influx of visitors, handled the visit expertly and the evening was a tremendous success.
On Easter Sunday, 14 April, the ship made final preparations for getting underway. During the morning Protestant Divine Worship and Catholic Mass were conducted on the main deck forward. At 1300, 16-inch powder was brought on board, the first in over 10 years; for Inspection and Survey would test all systems on the ship - including her big guns. Besides the Board of Inspection and Survey, headed by Rear Admiral John D. Bulkeley, another group of local and national news representatives would ride with the ship. What would be routine for any other Navy ship was an item of national interest with NEW JERSEY.
At 1000 on Monday, 15 April, NEW JERSEY once again slipped gently into the Delaware River for the 86 mile, eight hour trip to the Atlantic. The Inspection and Survey Board, comprised of Naval officers, all experts in their fields, would thoroughly scrutinize every aspect of the ship's operation in order to determine her material readiness to carry out her assigned mission.
The high point of Inspection and Survey, and the high-point of NEW JERSEY's re-activation to date, occurred at 1025 on the morning of 17 April off the Virginia Capes: the right gun of turret one, trained around to 110 degrees relative, belched flame and smoke as the first 16-inch projectile for over a decade left the gun muzzle of a U. S. battleship. A marked silence followed the blast as all eyes were trained on the horizon. About 40 seconds later a green splash appeared on the horizon as the projectile hit. The blind loaded and plugged projectile contained dye so impact could be readily observed. A total of 18 rounds were fired between 1025 and 1330 that day, all with the big barrels trained at extreme angles in order to place maximum strain on the ship's superstructure. tinder normal circumstances 16-inch guns, which generate tremendous pressure, would be fired close to the beam. Inspection and Survey, however, tests a ship's maximum tolerances. And NEW JERSEY passed the test.
Life rafts were blown out of their racks aft and one accommodation ladder stowed on the port side just forward of turret three was blown apart. Several hats were lost over the side and one would-be photographer had his Instamatic shatter in his hands. There were no significant casualties, though, and NEW JERSEY had proved another phase of her readiness.
As the ship approached the channel to the Delaware River on the morning of 18 April, her helo deck and flight crew were tested for the first time as three helicopters from HC-4, Lakehurst, made several landings. Later in the day, as the ship moored portside to, Pier Four, the broom once again flew from the yardarm, indicative of another clean sweep. Shortly after mooring the INSURV critique, with Rear Admiral Bulkeley presiding, was held in the wardroom. It was, incidentally,. the first INSURV critique of a major combatant in the Navy's history which was open to the press.
Admiral Bulkeley began, "You have a very fine ship and some of the finest officers and men I have seen in a long time". With the press paying close attention to every word, Admiral Bulkeley continued to praise the performance of the past four days. He summed up by saying there was no doubt in his mind that NEW JERSEY could and would perform her assigned mission in Southeast Asia in a creditable manner, and that the Navy had "received it's money's worth".
Shipboard work after Inspection and Survey seemed to take on a different atmosphere. Whereas previously, much of the work was major in scale and not normal to any other than a ship under construction or undergoing a major overhaul, now the daily routine seemed a little closer to just that: routine. Interior spaces were scrubbed down daily. Bright work was polished routinely. The crew now lived and ate all meals aboard the ship. On 29 April Miss New Jersey (Miss America contestant) Jeanette Phillipuk, joined Captain Snyder in ribbon-cutting ceremonies opening our new walk-in ship's store which featured $40,000 of merchandise ranging from the more mundane necessity items to fancy cameras and numerous brands of ladies perfume. This had been preceded by the opening of a modernized soda fountain, a new tobacco shop, clothing and small stores, and thoroughly modernized barber shops, the lighting-off of four multi-flavor soft drink vending machines, and the institution of laundry and tailor shop services. As time passed into late April NEW JERSEY became less and less dependent on shore services and more dependent upon the skills and resources of her men. In nine months since being moved out of her berth between IOWA and WISCONSIN, NEW JERSEY had been transformed from 58,000 tons of steel to a living, breathing ship. Color television sets were something new to battleships, and at night, ports open to let in the warm spring air, crew members could be found in compartments enjoying some well deserved rest. And there was always the inevitable acey deucey and card games.
All talk now was of the upcoming transit. The event was regarded with mixed emotion. For some NEW JERSEYMEN, it meant seeing families and friends on the West Coast for the first time in several months. For others it would mean saying good-bye to loved ones for at least a year. However one regarded the trip, it would begin on the 16th day of May.
Meanwhile, the visits hosted by NEW JERSEY were spiraling. Visiting, in fact seemed to become a major aspect of the ship's daily routine during the last days in Philadelphia. From the occasional visit in early March, the schedule grew to include an average of two to three groups per day by late April.
As April turned to May, final preparations were underway. Boats and vehicles were brought aboard. Final touches were put on yard work. personal affairs were put in order. But while all minds were on the trip west, NEW JERSEYMEN still had time to think of a fellow human being in need. On Saturday, 20 April, the ship received a call from a Philadelphia man seeking help. The wife of a close friend was in a local hospital, dying for need of blood. The need was urgent. The man was desperate, and knew not where to turn. Then, a thought struck him. He had once been in the Navy, and he knew NEW JERSEY was in port. It. might be worth a try.
The officer of the deck received the call at 1230. He passed word immediately. Although it was a weekend, with most of the crew on liberty, within ten minutes 17 sailors had assembled on the quarterdeck and were speeding to the hospital to come to the aid of someone none of them knew. The transfusions greatly improved the patient's health and she was soon taken off the danger list. The woman, Mrs. Ruth Rappaport, recovered from her illness shortly after the incident, and still corresponds regularly with the ship.
Sunday, 12 May, saw NEW JERSEY conduct her first day of limited invitational visiting. It was an ideal way to accommodate all those who wanted to visit the battleship before her departure from the East Coast. There simply weren't enough days left to be able to host each group wanting to tour the ship on an individual basis. About 1,200 people came aboard that day. It was NEW JERSEY's largest crowd to date, but nothing compared to what the future held.
The day soon arrived, and at 1145, NEW JERSEY got underway and glided down the Delaware River, leaving behind the place of her birth and her two proud sisters. Looking back IOWA and WISCONSIN, one couldn't help but feel they would like to come too...to once again feel the elixirs of the Pacific slide under the keel, to once again take up the cause of freedom.
Again, NEW JERSEY played host to representatives of an admiring public. In what turned out to be the rule rather than the exception, six media representatives rode the ship from Philadelphia to Norfolk, Virginia. Routine training was conducted enroute, under the watchful eyes of the press, and a special guest, Federal Judge Talbot Smith from Detroit, an old friend of the Navy who passed away shortly after the trip. On Saturday, the lath, an awards ceremony was held on the helo deck, wherein key members of the re-activation crew were recognized for outstanding contributions in getting the ship ready for combat. At 0500 on Monday, the 20th day of May, the special sea and anchor detail was set in preparation for entering port. This period would be strictly business as 2,500 tons of ammunition had to be loaded. No liberty was granted. The crew loaded around the clock for three days finishing the job at 2000 on the 22nd. The ship got underway immediately for the Virginia Capes operation area, where calibration of the big guns would be conducted. The earlier tests in April had been structural only. Now NEW JERSEYMEN would learn how accurate the guns were after 11 years of idleness.
The following morning, with a CBS camera crew looking on, the tests began. Throughout the 23rd the ship fired: 46 five-inch blind loaded and plugged projectiles and 50 five-inch anti-aircraft common with 96 non-flashless powder charges; and 57 16-inch blind loaded and plugged projectiles, 23 with reduced powder charges and 34 full charges. Included in this firing were two full broadsides--nine gun salvos. The target was a sled towed by LISS SHIXORA (ATF 162). For indirect fire NEW JERSEY's fire controlmen used USS REID (APD 119) as a reference.
On the morning of the 24th the ship conducted more five-inch firing, then headed back to Norfolk for some well deserved liberty. Coincidental to NEW JERSEY's last weekend in an East Coast port would be the first in a series of open houses.
General visiting, whereby the Naval Station and the ship would be open to the public, would run for two days-Saturday and Sunday, the 24th and 25th of May from 1300 to 1630. Before visiting on Saturday, the ship would host some special guests. At 0830 eight local mayors called on the Captain. At 0900 60 former crew members were hosted by NEW JERSEY's chief petty officers, and at 1000 200 NROTC students were aboard. By 1200 all the morning guests had departed and the crowds were beginning to line up at the head of the pier. NEW JERSEY was fully prepared to receive visitors. Extra brows had been set up. Two bands would entertain the guests as they waited on the pier. A tour route had been established. Emergency details were posted. Ample "Welcome Aboard" pamphlets had been printed in the ship's print shop and were ready for distribution. Gunnery and fire fighting displays were set up on the pier. Radioman first class George Stavros had prepared an oral description of NEW JERSEY's mission which he would deliver about each half hour from forward of turret one. At 1220 it was decided that nothing would be gained by having the huge crowd wait for the official opening time of 1300. The after brow was opened and visitors came streaming aboard - 11,119 of them. The next day the same procedure was followed with 20,683 guests, for a weekend total of nearly 32,000.
At 0930 on the 29th of May, NEW JERSEY once again put to sea, this time headed south for the Panama Canal and the Pacific. The first leg of the voyage took six days, and NEW JERSEY anchored on the Atlantic side the morning of 3 June at Cristobal. The boarding party then came aboard and plans were made for the actual transit which would commence at 0500 on the fourth and take 12 hours.
The Panama Canal, which had been designed with a width of 110 feet, had rubber fenders installed shortly after the Korean conflict. These fenders narrowed the locks down to 108 feet, two inches - one inch less than NEW JERSEY'S beam. Fortunately the fenders were resilient, but it would indeed be a tight squeeze. The transit was made without incident and was brightened by the presence of several distinguished guests, among them Rear Admiral George P. Koch, Commandant, FIFTEENTH Naval District and Admiral Jose Moreira Maia, the Brazilian Chief of Naval Operations.
At 1700 on the 4th of June the ship moored starboard side to, Pier 15, Balboa, for an evening of liberty before getting underway for Long Beach in the morning. That evening 10 guests of the Secretary of the Navy and two Southern California newspapermen were embarked. And the Canal Zone Council of the Navy League of the United States hosted a cocktail party for ship's officers at Quarry Heights Officer's Club. The ship's officers returned the hospitality the next morning by inviting 1,400 Navy League members and their guests to tour the ship. Shortly after noon on the 5th, NEW JERSEY got underway and, under threatening skies, moved silently into the pacific for a six-day voyage north to Long Beach.
This trip would be utilized for more underway training and gunnery calibration. To test the speed of his crew, Captain Snyder set up an unannounced imaginary surface target 4,000 yards off the starboard beam at 1600 on the 9th. General quarters was sounded and the situation was quickly explained to control personnel. Eight minutes after the alarm was sounded the secondary battery had fired 32 rounds at the target.
At 1100 on the 11th of June, NEW JERSEY arrived in her homeport for the first time. A flotilla of small craft followed her in from the outer breakwater to Pier Echo, where she moored adjacent to the Queen Mary. A large crowd was on hand to greet the ship, headed by the Mayor of Long Beach, Edwin W. Wade; Commander Cruiser-Destroyer Force Pacific, Rear Admiral Mason Freeman; and Commander Cruiser-Destroyer Group Long Beach, Rear Admiral Thomas J. Rudden, Jr.
Long Beach received NEW JERSEY warmly and extended a welcoming hand. In addition to the official greeting party, a bevy of hula girls performed on the pier. A local locker club provided free refreshments for NEW JERSEYMEN the first three days in port. The Armed Services Commission of the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce made tickets available for trips to Disneyland and to Dodgers' baseball games.
The first weekend in Long Beach was set aside for general visiting. On Saturday, the 15th of June, the gates were scheduled to be opened at 1200 in preparation for 1300 visiting. However, as happened in Norfolk, the crowds now started gathering early. The bridge connecting downtown Long Beach and Terminal Island opened that day allowing easy access to the Long Beach Naval Shipyard. By 1000 the crowd was so large the gates were opened two hours early. By 1800 19,411 visitors had been counted. The crew cleaned up the ship quickly and by 1900 things were back to normal. On Sunday, the 16th, the visitor count was 26,180 for a weekend total of over 45,000. The Long Beach Chief of Police estimated that another 200;000 people were unable to penetrate the traffic and never made it to the ship. he called it the worst traffic jam in the city's history.
After one week in her homeport, NEW JERSEY sailed to another southern California port - San Diego. She left Long Beach in the morning of the 17th and arrived in San Diego that afternoon. The 17th marked the beginning of six weeks of intensive training to be observed by the San Diego Fleet Training Group. Forty observers embarked for the half-day trip to San Diego and immediately began inspections to determine readiness for training.
The rest of the week was spent in port for briefings and conferences with Fleet Training Group personnel and representatives from Cruiser-Destroyer Force Pacific. That weekend NEW JERSEY again flew VICTOR from tier yardarm, indicative of another open house. On the 22nd and 23rd we hosted 46,000 guests, setting a new record for battleship visiting.
At 0900 on Monday, the 24th of June, the ship got underway for San Clemente Island and Shakedown Training had begun in earnest. That afternoon, with the ship at General Quarters, NEW JERSEYMEN coped with the initial battle problem, which was designed to simulate as closely as possible, a combat situation with the ship under attack. NEW JERSEY was "steaming off enemy territory in the South China Sea, and subject to attack from enemy aircraft, shore fire and torpedo boats". The problem lasted about two hours and included simulated rocket and bomb hits. The problem was designed to test NEW JERSEY's ability to cope with battle damage. It also served to introduce many young crew members to something they had never before experienced - a combat situation. For, though many NEW JERSEYMEN were veterans of two wars, the majority of the men were young - the greatness of the past together with youth and the latest in technological developments.
The following day the ship again went to General Quarters, this time for anti-aircraft five-inch gunfire exercises, damage control drills and five and 16-inch shore bombardment on San Clemente Island under the watchful eyes of the Fleet Training Group observers and KNXT-TV
The 26th saw more of the same. The ship went to General Quarters at 0615. At 1300 NEW JERSEY conducted her first underway replenishment since re-commissioning, delivering and receiving a manila highline, and receiving a housefall rig from USS ALUDRA (AF 55), a stores ship which would later replenish NEW JERSEY off the coast of Vietnam. Later that afternoon NEW JERSEY conducted a man overboard drill, and in the evening her first night replenishment, again with the ALUDRA.
The rest of the week was spent underway in the Southern California operation areas. On Friday, the 28th, the ship returned to San Diego for the weekend. On Saturday morning 166 members of Admiral Freeman 5 staff and their families were hosted for a tour. The rest of the weekend was spent quietly, and on Monday morning the third week of Refresher Training began.
On Tuesday, the 2nd of July, NEW JERSEY flexed her long range muscles for the first time when she moved south west of San Clemente Island and fired salvos at 20 1/2 nautical miles. The impact area was under observation by a special observer group and was approximately 2,000 yards from the observers position. That same day NEW JERSEY moved out to the 20,000 yards plus range band and conducted shore bombardment on the San Clemente gunfire range impact area at Pyramid Cove. Naval personnel stationed on the island had set out discarded automobiles, painted bright yellow, for use as targets. Point detonating and mechanical time fused projectiles were both fired achieving both surface and air bursts which showered the target with shrapnel, some fragments weighing as much as 30 pounds. When the shoot was over, Commander Donald P. Roane, NEW JERSEY's Weapons Officer, remarked, "I think we've put the yellow cab company out of business."
Refresher Training continued into Wednesday morning, and shortly after noon NEW JERSEY departed station for Long Beach and a long holiday weekend. She moored at Pier Echo at 1900. Thursday, the 4th, being a National Holiday, meant dress ship. At morning colors 130 flags and pennants were flown from bow to stern. USS HORNET (CVS 12) was moored ahead of NEW JERSEY and together they formed a colorful display.
Monday, 8 July marked the beginning of another week of refresher training. By 1200 NEW JERSEY was on station off San Clemente for naval gunfire support communications exercises. In the afternoon the ship qualified for counter-battery fire. San Clemente range personnel arbitrarily lobbed smoked grenades into the firing area to simulate hostile fire positions. The Mark 38 (main battery) directors sighted the smoke, and tracked it optically, thereby directing 16-inch destructive fire.
The fourth week of refresher training included another media embarkation, this time with three representatives of NBC and two local newsmen from Pasadena aboard to gather material for feature stories. The eyes of the nation were still on the ship as she neared deployment to the Seventh Fleet and Southeast Asia. On the 11th of July, NEW JERSEY conducted her first refueling at sea, receiving 200,000 gallons of Navy standard fuel oil from USS PLATTE (AO 24). On Friday, the 12th, the ship received her mid-term battle problem, marking the halfway point in refresher training.
That weekend was spent in San Diego with conferences attended by NEW JERSEY weapons personnel and naval gunfire support air spotters. The Supply Department took advantage of this in-port period to load general stores and fresh provisions. On Saturday the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, Mr. Richard Fryklund, and his family visited the ship.
The fifth week of refresher training began with another media embark, this time consisting of Long Beach and San Diego newsmen. A team from the Combat Camera Group also rode the ship for the week. On Monday night the ship fired five-inch star shells to illuminate a sled towed by USS MUNSEE (ATF 107).
The following day at 1200, Rear Admiral Henry S. Monroe, Commander of the Amphibious Training Group pacific, came aboard by helicopter to observe 16-inch fire. He was to retire from the Navy on 1 August and wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to see the big guns in action. Also watching that day were the eyes of a television camera. The camera was set up to observe the impact of NEW JERSEY's 1,900 pound, high explosive projectiles. The action was recorded on video tape and replayed over the ship's newly installed closed circuit television system on 30 August, the day of NEW JERSEY's family cruise. On the 17th, six more media representatives embarked to cover shore bombardment. We put on a good show for them that afternoon. The exercise was a 2-30-s, secondary battery against a high speed surface target. The target was a 14-foot radio controlled drone boat called a "Firefish", capable of making 30 knots and high speed maneuvering. Sky Two (the port secondary battery director) had the target designated at 12,000 yards. The battery opened fire at 11,000 yards, and the drone was stopped at 8,200 yards. Fifty rounds of anti-aircraft common had been expended. NEW JERSEY closed the stricken drone and, as it passed down the port side, the bugler played taps.
The week was finished with more anti-aircraft shooting, anti-missile exercises, another underway replenishment with PLATTE, and shore bombardment. On Friday, 19 July, the secondary battery knocked two target sleeves out of the sky. The sleeves are 20 feet long and are towed on a 7,500 foot cable by a high speed aircraft. That evening NEW JERSEY passed Point Loma on the way into San Diego for the last time before deploying.
That Sunday invitational visiting was conducted for many San Diegans who had expressed an interest in touring the ship. Monday morning at 0800 NEW JERSEY got underway for the final week of refresher training. With the ship now fully qualified for shore bombardment, only the final battle problem remained before being declared ready for deployment to the Western Pacific. On Wednesday, the 24th of July, NEW JERSEY conducted her first rearming at sea since re-commissioning. Commencing at 0800, the ship received 16-inch projectiles and powder and five-inch projectiles and powder from USS MOUNT KATMAI (AE 16) about 35 miles west of San Diego. The first underway personnel transfer was also conducted that day receiving a Fleet Training Group observer by highline from MOUNT KATMAI. On the 25th, the ship took part in a "David and Goliath" type operation. Refresher training requires that each ship tow and be towed. At 1130 that day NEW JERSEY was taken in tow by USS MUNSEE (ATF 107) , a ship equaling less than one-fiftieth of NEW JERSEY's displacement. At 0815 on the 26th, NEW JERSEY began the final battle problem. The problem was completed by 1200 and refresher training was officially over.
In the critique following the problem, Lieutenant Commander George Head of the Fleet Training Group, attested to NEW JERSEY'S battle readiness. The ship will "have no problem in carrying out her primary mission of shore bombardment", he said.
The battleship, which had been taken out of mothballs in Philadelphia less than one year ago, had now been declared fit for combat. The first step in this process had been to reactivate the machinery and equipment. This had been done in Philadelphia by the nucleus crew and 2,000 civilian yard personnel. NEW JERSEY had proven herself in machinery trials and Inspection and Survey. There had been no question that the ship was ready. Refresher training had proved something more important: that the men of NEW JERSEY were ready to take the ship into combat. No ship, no matter how fine technically and mechanically, is any better than her men make her. Without them she would be 58,000 tons of steel, wiring and machinery. With them, the men of NEW JERSEY, she was a fighting unit, a U. S. Navy ship which would soon sail to the troubled waters of Vietnam and write pages in American history. "Firepower for Freedom" would soon be on its way to defend "the rights and liberties of small nations".
The weekend of 27 and 28 July was spent in Long Beach in preparation for a week of advanced training with USS TOWERS (DDG 9), NEW JERSEY's escort for the transit to the Western Pacific and the first on-line period. Monday morning at 0900 the Ship got underway and rendezvoused with TOWERS. That day was spent conducting shore bombardment at San Clemente with condition II and condition III watches set. Shore bombardment continued throughout all of that night and into the following morning. On the 30th, NEW JERSEY refueled TOWERS, the first time that evolution had been accomplished. That afternoon NEW JERSEY fired a newly developed five-inch projectile with an infra-red fuse at flares dropped by a Navy 52F. In a message to the Navy's Ordnance System Command, Captain Snyder called the projectiles "utterly fantastic".
On the 31st both active and passive electronic countermeasures exercises were conducted in the morning. Anti cruise missile training, with a F-4 simulating an enemy missile, was also conducted. During 12 attacks NEW JERSEY's countermeasures gear was able to break lock several times. That afternoon NEW JERSEY knocked out another "Firefish" surface drone, this time firing five-inch variable time fragmentation and stopping the craft at 9,200 yards. Thursday and Friday were devoted to more 16-inch shore bombardment on San Clemente using the Snoopy DASH system for spotting. In this mode a small unmanned helo, equipped with a television camera, hovers over the target area under control of the ship's combat information center. A television image of the area is relayed back to the ship and monitored in the plotting room. Plotting room personnel can easily observe the impact and adjust fire as necessary.
Friday, 2 August, NEW JERSEY returned to Long Beach for a month of post shakedown availability at the Naval Shipyard before deployment. In this period minor yard work could be done and rough edges taken off any equipment problems which had come up during refresher training. It would also be an opportunity for NEW JERSEYMEN to be with their families before a seven-and-one-half month deployment to the Western Pacific.
During this period the ship's closed circuit television system was placed into full operation. The system was made possible through the generosity of the New Jersey State Society for the Battleship NEW JERSEY and included two General Electric Vidicon cameras, a G.E. half-inch video tape recorder and playback unit, a Dyna Mod system modulator, a Graflex 16mm motion picture projector, four Sony monitors and associated microphones and lighting equipment. The ship also installed 23 large screen sets in living areas throughout the ship for maximum exposure. The system contributed greatly to the crew 5 morale and well being. About five hours of programming were scheduled per day which included entertainment, training lectures and films, interview programs, news and sports.
The availability period was also spent enhancing NEW JERSEY's missile defense posture. A good deal of concern had been expressed over the possibility of the North Vietnamese having Russian built surface to surface missiles similar to those used by the Egyptians to since the Israeli destroyer ELATE in the summer of 1967. The Navy's Research and Development Team provided NEW JERSEY with the latest in anti-missile defense.
On the 6th of August, Dr. Paul Stuart, the San Diego State College PACE Coordinator, arrived to make arrangements with NEW JERSEY's Training and Education Officer for PACE (Program for Accredited College Education) to be instituted on board. This program enables Navy men to receive a college education while at sea. Five PACE instructors later rode the ship to Pearl Harbor to get the classes started. After this brief beginning, various ship's personnel took over as instructors and the program continued throughout the deployment.
On the 14th of August the final test to be passed before the deployment occurred. At 0820, Administrative Inspectors from Cruiser-Destroyer Flotilla THREE, under the command of Rear Admiral Thomas J. Rudden Jr., arrived for the Administrative Inspection. NEW JERSEY was also honored that morning by the visit of Admiral John J. Hyland, Commander in Chief, U. S. Pacific Fleet. The Administrative Inspection lasted all day and the final grades were announced the following morning: bedding and bunking, 92%; cleanliness, 89.3% (turrets, mounts and magazines were noted as outstanding in cleanliness by Captain Jack Hilton, Cruiser-Destroyer Flotilla THREE Chief of Staff); Operations, 97.7%; Navigation, 89%; Executive, 93.1%; Weapons, 93%; and Engineering, 95%.
The personnel inspection, conducted by Rear Admiral Rudden and in full dress whites, was held at 0900, 15 August. NEW JERSEYMEN received an overall grade of "Excellent" in the personnel inspection, with Seaman William E. Cleary of Third Division, Electrician's Mate second class Robert F. Brown of E Division, and FM Division as a whole, being noted by the Admiral for outstanding appearance. The final evaluation after two days of thorough inspection was "NEW JERSEY ready in all respects for distant duty and extended operations".
The rest of the month was spent making final preparations for deployment. On the 20th the ship received a letter of complaint from a resident of Huntington Beach, California who claimed that the concussion from NEW JERSEY 5 guns had shattered a picture window in his home. NEW JERSEY had indeed been firing at the time his window was broken - at San Clemente Island, over 50 miles away. This was the ship's first confirmed gun damage assessment. On the 22nd, Long Beach again extended its hospitality to the men of NEW JERSEY. Mr. Dick Wilson, a local attorney who had been a Secretary of the Navy guest on the trip up from Panama, invited NEW JERSEY golfers to spend a day at the Virginia Country Club.
On the 28th NEW JERSEY got underway from Pier Echo for the ammunition anchorage at Seal Beach. Two days were required for a complete loadout of five and 16-inch ammunition and powder. At 1900 on the 29th, the ship returned to Pier Echo to prepare for the final day at sea before leaving for operations with the Seventh Fleet, a family cruiser which would begin at 0930 on the 30th.
The 30th was a day for NEW JERSEYMEN and their families. Invitations were printed on board and distributed to the crew at quarters several days in advance. The Naval Station Nursery at Long Beach made special arrangements to care for children too young to go to sea. NEW JERSEY commissarymen prepared and served a barbecue with all the trimmings to 3173 hungry crew members and guests on the fantail using barbecue grills fabricated by R Division from oil drums. A special pamphlet was prepared for the day and distributed to everyone.
A Navy ship may wait for no man, but that day NEW JERSEY waited about 10 minutes for a few of her lady guests. After getting underway from Long Beach, the ship set a straight course for Avalon Bay on Santa Catalina Island where she would lie to during the noon meal. It was quite a sight, a battleship being conned by a young and determined officer, his wife whispering instructions in his ear. And the engineering spaces were brightened up considerably by the appearance of a few miniskirts.
After the barbecue the video tape of shore bombardment on San Clemente was broadcast several times over the ship's TV system. The 30th was an enjoyable day for all. Proud NEW JERSEYMEN showed their admiring parents, wives and sweethearts how their jobs contributed to making the ship an efficient and smooth running unit. Their families were able to better understand the ship and its operation.
The ship moored at 1500 in Long Beach to commence final preparations for the departure on 5 September, the date which had been set down by the Department of Defense over a year earlier. On Labor Day, 2 September, NEW JERSEY again hosted invitational visiting for 1,500 Long Beach residents. Since re-commissioning five months earlier, the world's only active battleship had hosted a total of approximately a quarter of a million visitors. NEW JERSEY had certainly made a lot of friends in a short time.
The trip from Long Beach to Vietnam would cover nearly 9,000 miles and last 24 days with scheduled stops in Hawaii and the Philippines. Nine guests of the Secretary of the Navy would ride the ship on the first leg, Long Beach to Pearl Harbor. They boarded on the afternoon of the 4th, the day before getting underway for combat operations.
It was with mixed emotions that NEW JERSEYMEN faced this voyage which would begin at 1000 the following morning. No man, no matter how seasoned a veteran he might be, likes to leave his family for periods of seven or eight months at a time. Yet this was the day NEW JERSEYMEN had been preparing themselves for since "Decision Day" 13 months ago. Everything they had done for the past year was pointed at putting 16-inch "Firepower for Freedom" on the gunline in Vietnam. A minority of critics had said the ship was vulnerable. Others said she wasn't worth the cost of re-activation. The men of NEW JERSEY had been waiting for a year for the chance to prove them wrong, which they would do irrefutably in the months to come. Rear Admiral Freeman, Commander Cruiser-Destroyer Force Pacific, summed up the aura surrounding the deployment in a message to NEW JERSEY that day: "few deployments will be as closely watched by the nation as well as the military commanders as yours. The challenges and responsibilities of deploying our only battleship off the coast of Vietnam are immense. Your past record indicates you are ready to carry out all assigned tasks".
Leaving families and friends on Pier Echo, NEW JERSEYMEN quickly turned their thoughts to the future, and the task which lay before them. The four day transit to Pearl was devoted to routine upkeep and training. The Secretary of the Navy guests (all of whom were members of the U. S. news media) were given thorough briefings on all phases of the ship's operations. They visited informally with the crew and made many lasting friends.
The last night before arrival in Pearl NEW JERSEY held "Meet the Press", in reverse. Radioman First Class George Stavros interviewed the Secretary of the Navy's guests on the closed circuit TV system. At the close of the press program, Mr. Webster, Vice President of CBS, directed a few editorial comments to the men of NEW JERSEY. "I'd like you to know that we share your pride in the NEW JERSEY--and you've clearly shown us that since last Thursday. With every briefing - every tour around the ship - we've gained a new understanding of the problems you faced and the way you've surmounted them. It seems almost incredible that so much has been accomplished in just 12 months from Decision Day."
"We know you're not satisfied with things as they are - but that dissatisfaction is the reason they're as good as they are. And, the reason they'll continue to improve."
"Some of us have served in the Navy in years past - some in other branches of the service. And, when we see what you are doing - catch your enthusiasm as you explain it to us (as so many of you have done so well) - feel the spirit of practical patriotism that seems to pervade the crew, the officers and your captain, frankly we can't help but be proud in a very special way."
"You'll probably be making a lot of news with the NEW JERSEY in the months ahead - saving a good many lives and giving millions of citizens a new appreciation of what the Navy can mean to this country. I think you'll make 'Firepower for Freedom’ a familiar phrase, with a satisfying ring."
"And, somehow, I hope you don't lose your other motto I've heard in the messhall. There’s a good feeling to "READY OR NOT...HERE WE ARE!"
Hawaii extended an all out "Aloha" welcome to NEW JERSEY when she arrived on the afternoon of the 9th, after rendering honors to the USS ARIZONA Memorial. Dancing hula girls greeted the ship on the pier and came aboard to place leis around the necks of everyone in sight. On the lath, briefings were conducted at the Headquarters of the Commander in Chief, U. S. Pacific Fleet to familiarize the officers and men with "Sea Dragon" and Naval gunfire support operations. At 0930, the Commander in Chief, Pacific, Admiral John S. McCain, came aboard with his component commanders to brief the wardroom. The dignitaries were General Joseph Nazzaro, Commander in Chief, Pacific Air Forces; General Ralph
F. Haines, Jr., Commander in Chief, U. S. Army Pacific; Vice Admiral Walter H. Baumberger, Deputy Commander in Chief, pacific Fleet; and Lieutenant General Henry W. Buse, Jr., Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific. Following the briefing, Admiral McCain presented the Silver Star Medal to Gunner's Mate third class Wilfred F. Heinen for conspicuous gallantry and service beyond the call of duty in connection with Heinen's heroism while serving aboard a Navy river patrol craft in Vietnam in March 1968.
That afternoon, NEW JERSEY again broke VICTOR signifying open house for the citizens of Hawaii. Over 10,000 people took advantage of the opportunity to visit a battleship.
The following morning at 0800, NEW JERSEY headed west for Subic Bay, Republic of the Philippines, the last stop before Vietnam. After leaving Pearl, NEW JERSEY conducted underway training firing the main battery and other last minute training evolution's until 1500 that afternoon.
On the 13th, NEW JERSEY crossed the International Dateline at 22 degrees 01.0 minutes north latitude. Twenty and one-half minutes of Saturday, the 14th, were observed before the new day changed to the 15th. The 16th and 17th were devoted to calibration shoots with TOWERS observing our fall of shot. Also on the 16th, NEW JERSEY topped off TOWERS with 91,967 gallons of Navy standard fuel oil in two hours. On the morning of the 17th, Typhoons Carmen and Della caused the ship to divert from her great circle track between Pearl and Subic. Base course was changed from 260 to 225, bringing the ship south of Guam.
Later that day the ship encountered two unexpected guests--a pair of TU-95D sleek Russian long range naval reconnaissance aircraft. TOWERS picked them up at a range of 200 miles. They made three passes overhead, at altitudes as low as 1,000 feet. Every amateur photographer on the ship took pictures, and as the Bears made the first pass Captain Snyder, over the lMC, told everyone to "smile, you're on Candid Camera".
On the 18th, with Carmen's winds reaching 60 knots, base speed was reduced from 23 to 21 knots to favor the smaller TOWERS. NEW JERSEY again topped off her escort that afternoon with 95,893 gallons of fuel.
On the 21st, NEW JERSEY transited the San Bernadino Straits in the Philippines. The transit lasted from 0600 to 2330. During the transit, as we steamed over the last resting place of the MUSASHI, Lieutenant Commander John P. Byrnes, NEW JERSEY's Catholic Chaplain, delivered a stirring oration commemorating the Battle of Leyte Gulf and in memorium of the Japanese Battleships that were sunk, one of the turning points for the united States during World War II. The following morning the ship moored at Alava Wharf, Subic Bay, where electronics gear was brought to peak operating condition. The four day stopover was also utilized for liaison visits with Fleet Intelligence Facility Pacific personnel. On the 25th, the ship moved out to the ammunition anchorage to load 88.8 tons of ammunition and powder. That evening at 1600, with load-out complete, the ship got underway for an anti-aircraft shoot the following morning. On the 27th shore bombardment on the Tabones Range marked NEW JERSEY's final practice shoot. DASH operations were also conducted that day with USS FECHTELER (DD 870) providing a drone. Then it was off for Vietnam.
On the 28th, at 1216, Gunner's Mate seaman Harold Y. Shaw became Medical's first emergency appendectomy patient. Lieutenant Commander John L. Denby performed the surgery with Lieutenant Commander James J. Quinn acting as anesthetist. Hospital Corpsman second class Robert J. Anderson and Hospital Corpsman third class Jerry D. Bass acted as circulating corpsmen and Chief Hospital Corpsman James J. Swafford, Jr. was operating room technician. Hospital Corpsman third class Dale A. Rigdon served as scrub corpsman. The surgery was completed at 1300 and the patient was back on his feet in a few days.
September had been a time of trial and innovation for the ship's navigation team. Not that the traditional sextant was laid aside, but NEW JERSEY deferred to the push-button trend in navigation by experimenting with the intricacies of a small, multi-purpose digital computer.
With civilian and government agencies spearheading NEW JERSEY'S peripheral entry into the space age, the ship became equipped to utilize the Navy's Navigation Satellite System before leaving Long Beach. Under the Navy's aegis for a mere four years, the system employs a network of four orbiting satellites with receiver and transmitter capacities, and several geographically spaced earth injection stations. From satellite to charthouse receiver to data processor computer units, the information cycle is completed with routine Navigator's inputs. The computer yields a time, latitude and longitude fix. Complementing the satellite equipment are two Loran "Charlie" receiving sets which indicate ship's position by measurement of time difference between signals received from land based master and slave transmitting stations. The computer, being programmed to process time differential, prints out accurate time, longitude and latitude fixes on a teletypewriter. Also activated in September was a new automatic steering unit which enables a helmsman to steer the ship merely by turning a knob.
Another modern technological advancement contributing to NEW JERSEY's efficiency is a team of six "Moto-Truk" electric pallet jacks and two diesel powered fork lifts. They have greatly enhanced underway replenishment capability and have cut ammunition ship alongside time by one-third. Whole pallets of ammunition and stores can be moved to strike down areas without on station breakdown. Each underway replenishment station can be cleared rapidly for the next load. This mechanization has also cut down on crew fatigue and has contributed a substantial safety factor.
A new initial velocity proselytize computer developed by the Navy Electronics Laboratory Center, San Diego and Hewlett Packard has made I.V. calculations more rapid and more reliable. The system has reduced set up times for NEW JERSEY'S fire control technicians and minimized the possibility of human error in fire control solutions.
On the morning of 29 September NEW JERSEY arrived off Da Nang and steamed up the coast to the Demilitarized Zone where her first combat rounds would be fired the following day. Rear Admiral S. H. Moore, Commander Task Group 70.8, arrived on board to brief the ship's officers prior to the firing. Also arriving on board that day were 32 national and international members of the press. The eyes of the world would again be on NEW JERSEY as she wrote history. In a world of high speed public communications, the events of 30 September would be proclaimed on front pages and flashed across television screens around the world before the day was out.
The huge ship performed well that first day expending 29 main battery rounds on four targets in and around the DMZ. A fortified storage area was destroyed, with the access road cut in two places and 300 meters of trench line torn up. An automatic weapons position which threatened the Marine spotter aloft in a TA4 was silenced. An enemy artillery site was totally destroyed. Another storage area with five fortified bunkers was destroyed. Thus began another period in American history.
After the first day's firing, the Marine pilot and spotter came aboard by helicopter to discuss what they had witnessed with the embarked media. They were very enthusiastic and spoke in positive terms about NEW JERSEY's accuracy and the devastating effect of her firepower. Upon completion of firing NEW JERSEY went alongside USS ST. PAUL (CA 73) for transfer of Commander Task Unit 77.1.0 turnover material and Commanding Officer NEW JERSEY relieved Rear Admiral Moore as Sea Dragon Surface Action Commander.
On Tuesday, 1 October, the ship took station to the north of Tiger Island and fired at targets seven to twelve miles north of the DMZ. The ship again moved south in the afternoon to fire into the buffer zone. A Marine TA4 aircraft, assigned to NEW JERSEY for spotting, was hit by ground fire while enroute to one of the afternoon S targets. He reported that he was fast losing fuel and that he would have to ditch. Vectored to NEW JERSEY's position by Chief Radarman Macdonald Shand, NEW JERSEY's air controller, both men ejected safely and were rescued within minutes by TOWERS. Chief Shand was recommended for the Navy Achievement Medal for his role in the drama. Six bunkers, a supply truck and an anti-aircraft site were destroyed by the big guns that day.
NEW JERSEY again fired from a position to the north of Tiger Island on the 2nd. In the afternoon she departed station to rearm from USS HALEAKALA (AE 25) , taking on 644 five-inch projectiles, 96 16-inch projectiles and associated powder. The ships were alongside for four hours transferring a total of 212 tons of munitions. That evening NEW JERSEY returned to the DMZ to fire five-inch at 39 prearranged targets. Eighteen secondary explosions were observed from the ship.
On the 3rd, NEW JERSEY fired nine 16-inch missions from support areas just south of Tiger Island. Six structures, one fortified (concrete) observation tower, a concrete bunker and an anti-aircraft weapons position were included in the day's assessment.
Many distinguished guests were aboard during NEW JERSEY’s first days on the gunline. On the 29th of September, Lieutenant General R. B. Cushman, Commanding General, Third Marine Amphibious Forces; Lieutenant General Hoang Xuam Lam, Commanding General, I Corps; Major General B. B. Anderson, Chief of Staff to General Cushman; and Brigadier General Dona Ho Lee, Commanding General, Second Republic of Korea Marine Brigade were aboard. On 1 October, Brigadier General A. C Pixsten, Commander XXIV Artillery Corps paid a visit on the Commanding Officer. On the 2nd NEW JERSEY hosted Lieutenant General Richard 5. Stilwell, Commander XXIV Corps and Major General Ngo Quang Truong, Commander First ARVN Division. On the 3rd Major General Richard C. Davis, Commanding General Third Marine Division observed the firing.
On the 4th NEW JERSEY again fired in northern I Corps, this time with Vice Admiral William F. Bringle, Commander Seventh Fleet aboard. Eleven main battery missions and two secondary battery missions, including one utilizing rocket assisted projectiles, were fired. One Communist troop concentration was wiped out and several bunkers were destroyed.
On the 5th, Commanding officer, NEW JERSEY assumed command of Task Unit 77.1.2, the southern Sea Dragon unit. NEW JERSEY and TOWERS were joined by USS MACKENZIE (DD 614) a snoopy equipped destroyer. The three ships were responsible for the area from the DMZ northward to 18 degrees north. MACKENZIE flew snoopy for 1.3 hours in the morning and 1.2 hours in the afternoon, obtaining surveillance of the waters around Dong Hoi. Although NEW JERSEY received an excellent TV image, no waterborne logistics craft were sighted.
On the 6th the three ships replenished from MOUNT KATMAI. While NEW JERSEY took on ammunition at three stations, she simultaneously received supplies from USS MARS (AES 1) bv vertical replenishment. TOWERS and MACKENZIE also refueled from USS PLATTE (AO 24). Upon completion, Task Unit 77.1.2 closed the coast for preplanned firing missions. NEW JERSEY destroyed an artillery position and a trans-shipment point.
During the evening of the 7th, an 52 surveillance air craft reported a concentration of waterborne logistics craft moving south one mile off shore near the month of the Song Giang River. NEW JERSEY and TOWERS closed the concentration, took it under fire, and destroyed 11 of them before the remainder could beach.
The following day was highlighted by a visit of the Honorable Paul R. Ignatius, Secretary of the Navy. Mr. Ignatius observed two firing missions during his visit. He was accompanied by Admiral Bringle. On the 9th, NEW JERSEY and TOWERS replenished from USS CHIPOLA (AO 63). No missions were fired due to bad weather. Spotters were unable to fly. On the 10th, NEW JERSEY and TOWERS moved north to the northern sector of Sea Dragon, covering the area between 18 and 19 degrees north latitude and becoming Task Unit 77.1.1. Six representatives of the world press embarked that day, and stayed aboard until the 13th.
While firing a pre-planned target on the 11th, the Marine spotter flying a TA4 spotted a truck concentration about one mile north of Nha Ky. NEW JERSEY quickly trained her guns around and opened fire, heavily damaging six of the vehicles and cutting an access road in three places.
At 0700 on Saturday, the 12th of October, NEW JERSEY went to General Quarters in preparation for firing at the heavily fortified and well protected Vinh caves. Two A7’s from the USS AMERICA (CVA 66) spotted the mission and reported receiving heavy ground fire. One secondary explosion, several fires and one cave sealed were reported by the aerial observers. After the mission NEW JERSEY left station to receive ammunition and powder from USS RAINIER (AE 5).
NEW JERSEY continued firing at the Vinh caves on the 13th and 14th although monsoon rains obscured the targets from the spotters most of the time. It was during one of these missions that a 16-inch high capacity projectile fused on quick, was prematurely triggered by rain. All future missions fired in heavy rain would require high capacity rounds to be base detonated.
During the afternoon of the 14th, again with the A7's from the AMERICA doing the spotting, NEW JERSEY fired for 30 minutes at coastal artillery sites on Hon Matt Island. The spotter noted one secondary explosion and one battery obliterated. As the debris settled, the spotter reported, "you've blown away a large slice of the island--it's down in the ocean". The Hon Matt mission was observed by Rear Admiral William J. Moran, Commander Anti-Submarine Warfare Group THREE and Pear Admiral Gerald E. Miller, Commander Carrier Division THREE. Following the mission NEW JERSEY steamed southward to resume operations off the DMZ.
At 0600, Tuesday the 15th of October, Commanding Officer, NEW JERSEY was relieved as Commander Task Unit 77.1.0, Sea Dragon Surface Action Commander, by Rear Admiral David H. Bagley, Commander Task Group 77.1 and Commander Cruiser-Destroyer Group Seventh Fleet. He was relieved as Commander Task Unit 77.1.1, Commander Northern Sea Dragon Unit, by Commanding Officer, USS CANBERRA (CA 70). NEW JERSEY then became a part of Task Unit 70.8.9, Naval gunfire support unit. NEW JERSEY replenished from USS POLLUX (AKS 4) in the morning and from USS VESUVIUS (AE 15) in the afternoon.
At 0230 on the 16th, NEW JERSEY replenished from USS ALUDRA (AF 55). Back on station at 0730, NEW JERSEY took up support of the Third Marine Division. Firing simultaneous five and 16-inch salvos, NEW JERSEY destroyed 13 structures and an artillery site and halted an enemy platoon moving through the DMZ. NEW JERSEY's support of the Third Marine Division continued through the 17th, when she departed station to rearm from HALEAKALA. Upon completion, NEW JERSEY proceeded independently to II Corps where she would support the First Field Force.
Foul weather which grounded air spotters resulted in no firing on the 18th and 19th. On the 20th the weather broke enough to allow spotting, and NEW JERSEY wiped out a Viet Cong command post and destroyed nine bunkers in support of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, about 50 miles north of Nha Trang. On the 21st NEW JERSEY's medical team performed another emergency appendectomy, this time on Seaman Scott Caswell.
That evening NEW JERSEY refueled from CHIPOLA receiving 700,000 gallons of fuel in two and one-half hours.
In the morning, still in support of the 173rd, NEW JERSEY steamed into the extremely restricted waters of the Baie de Van Fong to fire at Viet Cong command posts. Although the ship fired 57 rounds into the target area, the aerial observer was unable to obtain any meaningful gun damage assessment due to a double and triple canopy of vegetation. The same was true the following day, when NEW JERSEY was credited with 'outstanding coverage of the target area and visible rearrangement of the terrain" but no assessment due to foliage.
While in II Corps, NEW JERSEY hosted several senior officers on the 22nd. They included Major General Charles P. Stone, Commanding General, Fourth Infantry Division; Major General Roan Van Quang, Commander Vietnamese Special Forces; Brigadier General Richard A. Edwards, commanding General, IFFV Artillery; Brigadier General Darrie H. Richards, commanding General, U. S. Army Support Command, Qui Nhon; and Brigadier General Hwang Young Shi, Chief of Staff, Republic of Korea Vietnam Field Command.
After departing II Corps, NEW JERSEY was the recipient of a Chinese made machine gun, captured at the battle of Kinh Mon. The presentation was made to Captain Snyder on behalf of the officers and men of the First Battalion, 61st Infantry and First Brigade, 5th Infantry in appreciation for NEW JERSEY'S preparation fire just before the battle, which lasted from 23-27 October. NEW JERSEY provided blocking fire to prevent the NVA from reinforcing their troops. Results of the sweep were: eight Americans lost and 301 enemy confirmed killed. (Ed note: for the Army side of this engagement, go to http://members.aol.com/bn61st/161pg7a.htm/ . When you get to a page that says the page cannot be found, go to the address and delete everything after .htm and hit "Enter".)
During the night of the 23rd, NEW JERSEY moved north to the DMZ to be in position to rearm from USS WRANGELL (AE 12) before taking gunfire support station off the buffer zone, in support of the Third Marine Division. HMAS PERTH, an Australian guided missile destroyer, was assigned as consort for operations north of 16 degrees, 45 minutes north. NEW JERSEY, after joining with PERTH in the morning, rendezvoused with WRANGELL in the afternoon, receiving 283 tons of ammunition and transferring 15 tons of retrograde in five hours alongside. On the morning of the 25th, NEW JERSEY and PERTH took up gunfire support stations off the DMZ.
During the day two main and two secondary spotted missions were fired with 12 confirmed enemy killed included in the damage assessment. A Communist troop movement was discovered by the aerial spotter, and NEW JERSEY quickly answered his call for fire with 16-inch high capacity projectiles fitted with mechanical time fuses. The observer reported the projectiles burst at optimum height, about 75 feet directly over the troops, who had taken cover in open trenches.
The next day NEW JERSEY recorded some of her heaviest damaged inflicted to date. Firing at targets in and around the DMZ, she destroyed 11 structures, seven bunkers, a concrete observation tower and 100 meters of trench line. The day also marked the first hostile fire received by the battleship since joining the Seventh Fleet in September. At 1710, while on station but with no mission in progress, the North Vietnamese gunners had their first try at us. The officer of the deck, Lieutenant (junior grade) Richard S. Rockwell immediately ordered right full rudder, all engines ahead emergency flank to unmask the turrets. In all they fired only ten to twelve rounds. It was immediately obvious why they had not shot at us sooner. Most of the rounds fell more than 500 yards from the ship. Their accuracy was so poor that it was difficult to immediately tell whether some of the shots were meant for NEW JERSEY or for other ships in the area.
Everyone was amused by Radio Hanoi's claim that Communist gunners had scored "direct hits" on NEW JERSEY. Needless to say NEW JERSEY was not even scratched. In reply to newsmen's questions regarding Hanoi's claim of having hit us, the Captain sent a message stating "...appeared from the bridge that six to twelve golf balls were driven off the Cap Lay bluff in our direction. Next time I will try to get more excited".
An Army pilot, Captain Roger S. Bounds, was flying in the vicinity of Cap Lay at the timer and upon request from NEW JERSEY, he went down for a look. Although we could find no artillery position, he did discover some fresh tire tracks entering a covered area, which could have concealed a piece of mobile artillery. Captain Bounds spotted five 16-inch rounds onto the suspected artillery site, but due to darkness and tree cover, was unable to report damage assessment.
That evening NEW JERSEY and PERTH left the DMZ and headed north as the southern Sea Dragon task unit. Poor weather minimized Sunday's firing and that night both ships left station to replenish from USS ZELIMA (AF 49) and rearm from MOUNT KATMAI. Fifty marines from the Third Marine Division came aboard earlier in the day for liaison with NEW JERSEYMEN. Incidental to the visit, some of the leathernecks got their first hot shower in 30 days. Supply Department initiated Operation Hilton which has come to be a regular feature of our hosting in-country units. Four-hour laundry service, haircuts by professional barbers, special service by all ship's service activities, head of the line privileges for sumptuous meals, and a beautifully decorated cake in their honor were included in this Op Order. For the first time, NEW JERSEYMEN heard first hand from the people they were supporting on the beach the effect of the ship's devastating firepower.
Staff Sergeant Robert Gauthier summed up the marine's feelings for NEW JERSEY in an interview over the ship's TV system: "You are doing more to improve the morale of the men on the beach than anything else in the war. Every time we go on patrol, someone says, 'The big one is out there. Nobody better mess with us or she'll get them.' You are saving lives out here.. American lives. And we thank you."
He then told how he had been leading a platoon in the area where NEW JERSEY was firing in support of the Third Marine Division. "We were ordered to pull back about 200 yards so that somebody, we didn't know who at the time, could start shooting at some Communist bunkers and emplacements that had been giving us a lot of trouble. When we finally moved back about 500 yards, we heard what at first sounded like a subway train moving through a tunnel--a big rushing noise--then BANG! Later on when we went back into the area, there was nothing.. just nothing. It was like something had come along with a big eraser and wiped everything clean. And they were big, heavily fortified bunkers, targets our own artillery couldn't touch."
About that same time a young marine 5 mother wrote the editor of a Yonkers, New York newspaper a letter that reiterated Sergeant Gauthier's words:
"I received a letter from my son, a marine fighting in Vietnam. He closed his letter this way: 'The NEW JERSEY arrived here last week, and man, is she playing hell with Charlie! She sits out there about seven miles, big and beautiful, and when she lets go with her 16-inch guns Charlie knows he is in for some big trouble. I hope she stays out there for 135 more days. That is my time to come home, Mom, so just pray for me that I make it'.. To all of us here in America surrounded by all the comforts and luxuries that our country has to offer, we take a lot for granted. But to our boys so far from home, this battleship stands for freedom, security, and the renewal of faith in the fact that there are still many Americans who haven't forgotten that they are there."
On Monday, NEW JERSEY and PERTH moved south to the DMZ. While firing at prearranged targets, the Marine spotter reported receiving heavy anti-aircraft fire from a position just below the northern trace of the Zone. He radioed back the grid coordinates and NEW JERSEY quickly silenced the site. That same day NEW JERSEY and PERTH had an unique exchange of crews. Fourteen Australians came aboard NEW JERSEY and the battleship sent 15 of her men to the Australian ship for a day. PERTH's Commanding Officer, Captain David W. Leach, and Captain Snyder thought it would benefit American and Australian understanding to arrange such an exchange. The exchange visit did much to enhance Australian and American respect for one another.
On Tuesday, the 29th, NEW JERSEY destroyed 30 structures, three underground bunkers and 350 meters of trench line. During the afternoon the aerial observer located an enemy artillery position on a hilltop about four miles southwest of Cap Lay. The site was active and had recently been harassing allied ground troops in northern I Corps. After NEW JERSEY laid in four 16-inch rounds, the spotter radioed back "excellent coverage.. keep them coming". Two rounds later the radio crackled once again. "You've just lowered the mountain by 20 feet. Artillery site destroyed."
NEW JERSEY remained off the DMZ throughout the 30th, silencing an anti-aircraft site and wiping out a supply and staging area. After a night of harassment and interdiction firing, NEW JERSEY departed station to rearm from VESUVIUS. One hundred eighty-seven tons of ammunition and 5,000 pounds of mail were received in Three hours and 45 minutes alongside.
Upon completion of the underway replenishment, NEW JERSEY returned to her station off the DMZ to provide main and secondary battery call fire. At 1806, approximately six rounds of hostile 100mm fire were received from the vicinity of Cap Lay. The nearest round was 3,000 yards short. Main battery fire was returned, but again darkness made assessment of the return fire unavailable.
On the morning of 1 November NEW JERSEY moved down the coast to a position off Da Nang and Point DeDe. At 0725 the largest underway replenishment yet began, with HALEAKALA. Three hundred eighteen 16-inch projectiles and 660 powder tanks (a total of 417 tons) were received. One hundred sixty 16-inch and 1,200 five-inch empty powder tanks (33 tons) were returned in seven hours and 15 minutes. It was while alongside HALEAKALA that NEW JERSEY intercepted the Joint Chiefs of Staff "Red Rocket" One and Two directing termination of offensive activities against North Vietnam effective at 2100 local time that evening.
On Saturday, the 2nd, NEW JERSEY began support of the First Marine Division, firing nine spotted missions from a point just south of the entrance to Da Nang Harbor. Although observers reported excellent coverage, no assessment was possible because of dense vegetation over the area. On Monday orders were received from Commander Task Unit 70.8.9 directing NEW JERSEY to take station in southern II Corps near Phan Thiet for the remainder of the current availability period. Steaming at 25 knots, NEW JERSEY arrived on station at 2200 that night.
On Tuesday, the 5th of November, NEW JERSEY fired eight call for fire missions in support of the 173rd Airborne Brigade. Eight Viet Cong bunkers and five structures were destroyed. During the day the ship received further directives from Commander Task unit 70.8.9 to move 180 miles north to support the Ninth Republic of Korea Brigade in central II Corps. Arriving on the morning of the 6th, the ship fired four main battery missions. Major General Im Ji Soon, Commanding General, Republic of Korea Forces, Vietnam, was aboard to observe. The following day Brigadier General Kang Shin Tak, Assistant Division Commander, Ninth Republic of Korea Division, observed NEW JERSEY's deepest penetration to date. Reaching 23 statute miles inland, NEW JERSEY blasted Viet Cong caves and bunkers. Three secondary explosions were noted by the spotter as the 1,900 pound bullets smashed into the complex. On Friday morning, 8 November, NEW JERSEY joined RAINIER for rearming then proceeded to the DMZ and her next assignment. while enroute the ship received a message from Commander Task Group 70.8 directing NEW JERSEY to proceed instead to Subic Bay for upkeep from the 10th to the 20th. She anchored at ammunition anchorage off the Naval Magazine at 0730 Sunday, 10 November. Ammunition was topped off as NEW JERSEY received 454 16-inch projectiles, 763 tanks of reduced powder charges (16-inch) , 96 five-inch projectiles and 273 five-inch powder charges. One hundred rounds of 16-inch armor piercing projectiles were off- loaded due to limited use of this type projectile in present deployment. On Monday, 11 November, after 47 days at sea, NEW JERSEY moored starboard side to, Alava Pier, and commenced upkeep and liberty. Many NEW JERSEYMEN took advantage of this period to take tours to Pagsanjan Falls and Manila, the capitol of the Philippines.
Upkeep continued until 0800 Thursday, 21 November, when NEW JERSEY once again got underway for I Corps and Naval gunfire support duties. Thursday afternoon three hours of antiaircraft practice was conducted, utilizing towed sleeves. Two were knocked down.
Saturday morning, 23 November, NEW JERSEY arrived at Point DeDe near Da Nang and, in accordance with instructions from Commander Task Unit 70.8.9, relieved USS GALVESTON (CLG 3) in support of the U. S. Army’s American Division. At the direction of the local Naval Gunfire Coordinator, the ship then moved to Point Dolly near Chu Lai. In three afternoon missions, her five-inch secondary battery destroyed 15 structures and inflicted heavy damage on 29 others. On the 24th, still in support of the American Division, NEW JERSEY wiped out more structures and bunkers despite heavy rain.
On the 25th, the battleship notched the greatest single day's tally of the year. With General George S. Brown, Commanding General, Seventh Air Force at the firing key, and Rear Admiral David H. Bagley, Commander Task Group 70.8, on board to observe, NEW JERSEY fired eight main battery missions. One hundred seventeen structures and 32 bunkers were destroyed and eight secondary explosions ripped through two storage areas near Quang Ngai. High capacity projectiles killed an estimated 40 Communist troops. NEW JERSEY also inflicted heavy damage to 93 structures, tore up 110 meters of trench line, and destroyed several tunnel complexes. Several of the targets were widely dispersed and the battleship fired what Chief Gunner's Mate Billie C. Baker called "spreading fire". The spotter got the ship on target then walked the shots around until the whole area had been decimated. Lookouts 120 feet above the ship's main deck reported smoke and debris rising 1,000 feet in the air over the targets.
On the 26th, Brigadier General H. H. Cooksey, Assistant Commander of the American Division (23rd Infantry Division), and Brigadier General Nguyen Van Toan, Commanding General, Second ARVN Division, came aboard to watch the firing. Nineteen more Viet Cong were killed, 66 structures and 22 bunkers were destroyed and 75 meters of trench line were torn up. One secondary battery mission that day utilized rocket assisted projectiles at a range of 23,000 yards. During the night Tuesday, the ship repositioned to Point Betsy near Hue to support the 101st Airborne (Airmobile) Division. Two main battery missions were fired for the 101st, Wednesday prior to departing station at 1600 to rearm from RAINIER.
Thanksgiving Day began with a main battery mission at 1000. NEW JERSEY commissary men had a first opportunity to try their hand at a holiday meal. NEW JERSEYMEN were treated to a spread of traditional Thanksgiving dishes that overflowed the serving lines and necessitated the construction of two tables in the mess decks from which desserts were served. A handsome souvenir menu was printed by the print shop. Thirty NEW JERSEYMEN went ashore that day to spend the holiday with the men of the 101st. Thirty soldiers came out to the ship to have dinner with NEW JERSEYMEN and give everyone the opportunity to discover how the other half lives. The transfer was accomplished by a Chinook helicopter in one lift.
NEW JERSEY remained on station near Hue on the 29th, but heavy weather precluded any firing. During the afternoon the ship went alongside USS CHARA (AE 31) to receive mail and passengers. Secondary battery harassment and interdiction was fired during the night- Major-General C. B. Drake, Deputy Commanding General, XXIV Corps and Major General L. W. Schweiter, Chief of Staff, XXIV Corps, were aboard during the afternoon. On Saturday, with the weather only slight improved, three main battery missions were fired in support of the 101st. During the night five-inch harassment and interdiction was fired prior to departing station for the DMZ and the Third Marine Division. Thirteen bunkers destroyed and one hillside caved in were recorded on the 1st of December, less than 1,000 yards south of the DMZ.
On the 2nd, three missions were fired. During the day 45 combat weary marines from the Third Marine Division were embarked by helo for two days. Three of these men developed malaria and were transferred to the hospital ship USS REPOSE (AH 16). Accompanying the leathernecks was Brigadier General Robert B. Carney, Jr., Assistant Division Commander, Third Marine Division. On Tuesday morning, NEW JERSEY joined USS REGULUS (AF 57) to load 28 tons of stores and fresh provisions. Finished by 0800, NEW JERSEY returned to the waters off the DMZ and fired six observed missions. Six bunkers were destroyed and an active anti-aircraft site was knocked out. On the 4th, three missions were fired between two replenishments. In the morning it was USS MATTAPONI (AO 41) for fuel, and in the late afternoon, MOUNT KATMAI for bullets. After two missions on the 5th, NEW JERSEY again steamed southward to take up support of the First Marine Division. NEW JERSEY's 16-inch guns teamed up with Marine artillery to pound Viet Cong bunker complexes. In the afternoon, the ship refueled from USS CHEMUNG (AO 30) and rearmed from WRANGELL.
NEW JERSEY celebrated the 25th anniversary of her launching (7 December 1943) by destroying 12 bunkers, two structures and 10 meters of trench line in a Viet Cong infested area 13 miles south of Da Nang. USS LEONARD F. MASON (DD 852) provided a snoopy drone in the afternoon to allow NEW JERSEY technicians to check out control and video monitoring equipment. Results were good, with all systems functioning properly. On the 8th, with Rear Admiral L. R. Geis, Chief of Information observing, NEW JERSEY fired seven missions in support of Operation Meade River. After the 1,900 pound projectiles had smashed one enemy bunker 15 miles south of Da Nang, the spotter radioed back, "it looks like the excavation for the foundation of an eight story building now". At midnight NEW JERSEY was detached and proceeded to Subic Bay in company with MASON. Arriving Tuesday morning, 10 December, NEW JERSEY immediately commenced taking on ammunition from the Naval Magazine. Loading operations continued until 0200 the following morning, at at 0900, the ship shifted berths to Alava Pier to facilitate loading provisions and general stores.
On Friday, the 13th, NEW JERSEY, in company with TOWERS, got underway for Singapore via the equator. On Saturday night a boxing smoker was held on the fantail in the honor of Davey Jones, royal emissary of Neptunus Rex, ruler of the raging main. King Neptune himself boarded on Sunday, just as NEW JERSEY was about to cross into his kingdom. He was disturbed to find over 1,400 nefarious pollywogs included in the ship's company, and he directed Captain Snyder and the rest of NEW JERSEY's loyal shellbacks to initiate them into the ways of the deep. The last pollywog became a dignified shellback only minutes before NEW JERSEY crossed 000 degrees at 1403.
On Monday morning, NEW JERSEY anchored in the Man-of-War anchorage off downtown Singapore. USS MONTROSE (APA 212) arrived the same morning and provided outstanding boat service for NEW JERSEY liberty parties until the 20th, when the ship returned to the gunline. While in Singapore, NEW JERSEY hosted the Honorable Francis J. Galbraith, U. S. Ambassador to Singapore, and Rear Admiral Michael D. Kyrle-Pope, Royal Navy, Chief of Staff, CINCFE, on the 18th.
At 1230 on the 22nd of December, NEW JERSEY arrived on station off the DMZ. Foul weather that day prevented spotter activity and no missions were fired. Again on Monday weather prevented firing, although unobserved harassment and interdiction was fired during the night. On Tuesday morning three main battery missions were fired prior to departing for Phu Cat to embark the Bob Hope Christmas Show.
On Christmas Day, NEW JERSEYMEN received a gift that to them was the next best thing to being home. Hollywood's King of Mirth and Merriment descended with Rosie Grier, Les Brown and his band, and 19 beautiful young girls. Knowing how, at this time of year, American's fighting men most feel the loneliness of being away from home, Hope and his famous quips brought gaiety into the hearts of NEW JERSEYMEN for an instant For the 18th consecutive year, Hope and his troupe contributed their time and energy to the happiness of soldiers and sailors alike. Marines, Air Force and Army personnel from the beach were NEW JERSEY's guests for the day. NEW JERSEY had something special for them too. They were guests of honor at Christmas dinner served from 1500-1730 on the mess decks which was highlighted by the cutting, by Bob Hope and Ann-Margaret, of a 121 pound cake featuring a two-foot confectionary Christmas tree.
During the performance, actress Linda Bennett sang Silent Night with the men. Her beautiful rendition brought taste of home to men who were 12,000 miles away. Filmed highlights of the show were shown back in the States on 16 January 1969. The Navy's Chief of Chaplains, Pear Admiral James W. Kelly, brought Christmas to a delightful close by preaching at the Protestant Divine Worship.
Two other guests on Christmas Day were Army Captains Charles S. Finch, Jr. and Roger S. Bounds. Both had served as airborne spotters for NEW JERSEY during firing missions. They told NEW JERSEYMEN of the effect their shellings were having on the Communists.
"The Communist troops certainly don't like to come out when NEW JERSEY is firing", said Captain Finch. "One of our biggest problems flying into a Red infested area is the antiaircraft fire we take. But after NEW JERSEY got on station over here and started shooting, she held ground fire to a minimum. As long as you are in the area and firing, the Communists hole up with their flak machines and anti-aircraft weapons. This gives us more freedom in picking out better targets."
Captain Finch went on, "NEW JERSEY is best at rooting out and destroying enemy bunkers. The eight-inch, 155mm and 105mm land-based artillery make a small impression on the land, compared to what the 16-inch does; it really clears out the area."
Captain Bounds added, "The Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army troops also store large quantities of ammunition, supplies and other materials underneath the jungle canopy. When NEW JERSEY shells an area, she levels all the trees shielding these caches. Even if the supplies aren't destroyed, the Communists still have to move all their materials and this is when we come in with Marine and Air Force jets and really get them. It's a tremendous effort you are making. I know it's a difficult thing for anybody to understand the fact that when you're mowing down trees, it is really an important target - something that is vital to the war effort. But the enemy uses camouflage and cover to an extreme extent. Jungle warfare is serious warfare. It is planned around cover and concealment, small groups of people, dispersion and things like this. The ability to remove terrain features denies them their most valuable asset in jungle warfare and it is for this reason that we find a large ordnance, good delivery system, rapid firepower like the NEW JERSEY’s to be such a great asset in our war."
The words of the two Army Captains were echoed later by Corporal Daryle W. Lewis, a marine ground spotter. lie told of his experience with NEW JERSEY. "Each round has a tremendous psychological effect on Communist troops. Air spotters have told me they have seen Communist gun crews get scared and run away from their guns when you are laying in your big ones. I've talked to some of the Chieu Hoi (Viet Cong defectors) who say that even though the round doesn't hit close to them, it makes them think they're going to die right there."
Upon debarking the Bob Hope troupe, NEW JERSEY was directed to take station off Tuy Hoa in support of the Republic of Vietnam's 47th Army Division. On the 26th, 13 bunkers were destroyed and two cave complexes were blown up northwest of Tuy Hoa. The bunkers were constructed of layers of logs and rocks up to several feet thick. Shipboard observers reported rocks and logs flying through the air several hundred feet above the target area. That evening NEW JERSEY refueled from USS CACAPON (AO 52) receiving 850,000 gallons of fuel and transferring 300 empty 16-inch powder tanks.
On Friday, the 27th, NEW JERSEY continued Naval gunfire support in central II Corps, supporting the 9th Republic of Korea Marines. Firing at a Viet Cong infested mountain area 10 1/2 miles north of Van Ninh, NEW JERSEY "blew the top off a hill". According to the aerial observer, "the mountain top has been completely opened up". The spotter first called in point detonated projectiles to clear away the thick vegetation and ground cover. When he could see the target clearly, he called for base detonating projectiles which would penetrate the caves of the deeply entrenched enemy. Observing the firing were Lieutenant General W. R. Peers, Commanding General, First Field Force; Major General T. N. Hollis, Deputy Commanding General, First Field Force; and Brigadier General R. A. Edwards, Commanding General, First Field Force Artillery.
The operation continued until 1030 Saturday at which time the ship departed station to rearm from MOUNT KATMAI. This underway replenishment marked the first time NEW JERSEY had received ammunition on a double modified housefall rig. Substantially improved transfer rates were achieved. Two hundred seventy-three tons of ammunition retrograde, and seven personnel were transferred in 2.3 hours alongside.
NEW JERSEY moved to the DMZ on Sunday, the 29th, where she would operate into the New Year. In one mission into the southern half of the Zone that afternoon, the battleship destroyed eight 2,500 square foot bunkers and demolished six structures. The spotter called in the fire when it was discovered the Communists had violated the buffer zone and built fortifications. One large secondary explosion was reported by the spotter as he shifted targets. : "Don't ever let anyone tell you you can’t put two bullets in the same hole", he said. "You can't miss. You must have a pair of magic tubes." At 1612 that day turret one became the first of the three to have fired 1,000 combat rounds since September. The other two turrets reached this mark shortly after the New Year.
Nineteen hundred sixty-eight had been a challenging and satisfying year for the men of NEW JERSEY. Although New Year's Day found them only halfway through the present deployment, and halfway around the world from their loved ones, they had much to be thankful for. They shared the satisfaction and pride of serving a ship that represented the pride of the surface Navy. They had received the ultimate tribute; A sincere "thanks" from every marine and soldier who had come aboard. Their job was to support allied forces in the field. They took pride in their work, and did it well. Only the men who serve her can make a ship great. And the men of NEW JERSEY served their ship in the finest tradition of the United States Navy.
AMMUNITION EXPENDED IN WESTPAC
(CALENDAR YEAR 1968)
(CALENDAR YEAR 1968)
GUN DAMAGE ASSESSMENT
FOR 71 DAYS ON THE GUNLINE ENDING 31 DECEMBER 1968
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