1969 CHRONOLOGY OF OUTSTANDING EVENTS
1969 NARRATIVE HISTORY OF USS NEW JERSEY (BB-62)
New Year's day found NEW JERSEY on the gunline, operating in support of the Third Marine Division just South of the DMZ. The ship fired at targets both in and South of the buffer zone that day, and destroyed nine bunkers and four military structures near Con Thien. The ship remained in support of the Third Marine Division until 0100 on the third, leaving station on the second to rearm from USS WRANGELL (AE-12) One hundred eighty-eight tons of 16-inch projectiles and powder were received.
The ship arrived on station off Da Nang at 0600 on the third, where she began support of the First Marine Division. Observed main battery missions were fired during the day and NEW JERSEY left station briefly in the evening to refuel from USS MATTAPONI (AO-41). Upon completion of this replenishment the ship returned to her support station near Da Nang and fired unobserved night missions with her secondary battery.
Monsoon rains and heavy cloud cover dominated operations on Saturday. Although the ship can fire in any weather, spotters cannot always see. No missions were fired during the day Saturday but five-inch unobserved fire was provided after dark. Sunday morning, 5 January, the weather broke briefly and three observed 16-inch missions were fired. During the first mission, turret II fired it's 1000th round. The weather again closed in after lunch and NEW JERSEY took advantage of the slack period by rearming from USS CHARA (AE-31). One hundred-twenty 16-inch rounds and 702 tank of powder were transferred and 15 tons of retrograde were returned. Upon completion, the ship steamed back toward Da Nang. No call for fire was received that night.
Extremely reduced visibility precluded any observed missions Monday. One hundred-ten tons of provisions were received without departing the gunline. Vertical replenishment or VERTREP was the method utilized and was conducted on this particular day with USS MARS (AFS-l) . NEW JERSEY was on station ready for call for fire in a driving rain. The ship was lying to, about three miles off the beach, with the bow North. MARS took station one thousand yards broad on the starboard beam and at times was not visible through the fog and rain. Two CH-53 helos were the workhorses, setting loads down on NEW JERSEY's main deck fore and aft. The Marines greatly appreciated the effort which enabled the Dreadnought to spend additional hours on the gunline. The commanding General of the First Marine Division expressed his gratitude in a message to the two skippers concerned.
After the VERTREP, unobserved secondary battery fire was provided until 0100, when the ship departed station and steamed north again to the DMZ. She arrived on station at 0600, Tuesday the 7th, but continuing poor visibility prohibited firing observed missions throughout the day. Both main and secondary batteries fired unobserved that night. NEW JERSEY departed station the morning of the 8th to rearm from 055 VESUVIUS (AE-15). Only 16-inch projectiles were received and the ship returned to the gunline shortly after noon. The ship demonstrated her all weather capability in the afternoon. Visibility on the beach was slightly improved, allowing spotters to see about 1500 meters. The ship was about four miles off shore, totally enveloped in fog. The observer located a bunker complex and some enemy troops in, and just south of the DMZ. "The soup was so thick we couldn't even see the beach," said Lieutenant Commander Leroy A. Short, Jr., the Battleship's Weapons Officer. "But our fire control radar was locked onto the reference point, and the spotter could see well enough to adjust our fire." The ship fired simultaneous five and 16-inch salvos and destroyed four bunkers. The spotter also reported four enemy troops killed in the action.
NEW JERSEY fired unobserved main battery missions throughout Wednesday night and departed station the following morning to refuel from USS CHEMUNG (AO-30). Upon returning from replenishment, NEW JERSEY found the weather substantially improved. Four observed missions were fired in the afternoon at active troops and again that night the ship was called on to fire at known enemy locations.
On the morning of the 10th NEW JERSEY came alongside USS MT KATMAI (AE-lE) to rearm. In two and one half hours, 180 tons of ammunition were received and seven tons of retrograde sent back. Back on station off the DMZ in the afternoon, the ship fired three observed main battery missions. During the night NEW JERSEY supported the First Marine Division near Da Nang. On the morning of 11 January, ship’s representatives attended a planning briefing concerning Amphibious Operation, Bold Mariner. Bold Mariner was to be a two-battalion landing team assault on Batangan Peninsula conducted by Task Force 76 and Task Force 79. while NEW JERSEY representatives were attending the briefing in USS ELDORADO (AGC-ll), the ship moved north of the harbor entrance and fired five main battery missions in support of the First Marine Division. Saturday evening was spent firing unobserved missions in the Da Nang area and at midnight the ship moved south to take station in the Mo Duc area for a diversionary effort on Sunday designed to mask the actual landings on Batangan Peninsula Monday morning.
Four prearranged unobserved missions were fired Sunday and that night the secondary battery continued to put rounds into the Mo Duc area. At 0400 the ship moved North to take up her fire support station off Batangan for the actual landings. NEW JERSEY remained on fire support station until noon on Monday. The landings went on schedule, the helo troops landing at 0700 and the first boat wave at 0800. Fire support was not requested, and NEW JERSEY was detached at noon to proceed to Subic Bay for upkeep and rearming. Arriving on Wednesday, the 15th of January, NEW JERSEY first moored at Nabassan Pier, Naval Magazine, and topped off with projectiles and powder. Upon completion, she moved to Leyte Pier and commenced four days upkeep.
Routine upkeep progressed until NEW JERSEY got underway at 0630 on Monday, 20 January. The first day underway was devoted to type training in the Subic Bay Operation Areas. A sleeve shoot was conducted at 1645. The secondary battery performed well, knocking down five towed sleeves in about one hour of shooting. Monday night NEW JERSEY set a Northerly course for Yokosuka, Japan and ten days of upkeep combined with some well deserved liberty.
NEW JERSEY moored in flooded Drydock Six, Ship Repair Facility, Yokosuka, at 0900 Saturday, 25 January. Japan is a sea going nation and the Japanese are extremely interested in ships - especially Battleships. A news conference was conducted in the wardroom for approximately 50 newsmen immediately after arrival. With the aid of a translator, Captain Snyder described his ship and her mission. He then conducted a brief tour for the newsmen and answered dozens of questions. That evening and the following morning NEW JERSEY was headline news throughout Japan.
During ten days in port NEW JERSEY hosted 10,000 visitors, both Japanese and American. The Captain hosted many special guests for luncheon in his cabin throughout the week. They included 30 Japanese flag and general officers and several of the nation’s highest ranking government officials. Shortly after NEW JERSEY left Yokosuka on the 5th of February, the ship received the following message from Rear Admiral D. F. Smith, Jr., Commander Naval Forces Japan:
"I wish to extend to the officers and men of the USS NEW JERSEY a most sincere and hearty well done on your extremely successful visit to Japan. The warm hospitality extended by the ship's company to the many visitors to your fine ship and, in particular, the personal attention given by the Commanding Officer to the many distinguished civilian and military leaders in Japan has significantly contributed to improving Japanese-American relations in general and U.S. Navy relations in particular."
Within a few hours of clearing the harbor, the ship encountered gale force winds with gusts up to 65 knots. Although some minor damage to exterior fittings resulted, the ship's combat readiness was in no way affected. By Thursday evening the weather had moderated and speed, which had been reduced, was increased to 23 knots. NEW JERSEY arrived off Da Nang on schedule, at 0600, 10 February, and commenced support of the Second ROK Marine Brigade.
Commanding Officer NEW JERSEY became Commander Task Unit 70.8.9 on 12 February. To assist him in this dual responsibility, Captain C. W. Cummings, Commander Destroyer Division 172 and his staff embarked that morning from USS LYNDE MCCORMICK (DDG-8). Commodore Cummings and staff were aboard until 7 March and during this time proved an invaluable asset in assisting in the direction of Naval Gunfire Support units up and down South Vietnam's coast.
NEW JERSEY destroyed 20 bunkers and 16 military structures in Communist strongholds south of Da Nang on the 12th. Five enemy were killed in action. The 16-inch missions fired that afternoon emphasized the degree of cooperation and coordination involved in Naval Gunfire Support. NEW JERSEY fired in support of the Koreans. The spotter plane belonged to the U.S. Army and was piloted by a Korean. The spotter in the back seat was a U.S. Navy Lieutenant.
NEW JERSEY remained near Danang until the night of 13 February supporting both the Korean Marines and elements of the U.S. First Marine Division. During this tenure in central I Corps the ship was visited by Lieutenant Commander Norman Corlett, Navy Liaison Officer with the First Marine Division.
He expressed the gratitude of the Marines for having NEW JERSEY in the area. He explained that the targets being fired were part of a staging area for a suspected Viet Cong regiment. The targets were bunker and tunnel complexes. "In the tunnels beneath a bunker," said LCDR Corlett, "there can be as many as 30 men hiding... that's why we want to use the 16-inch projectile. It penetrates and obliterates a bunker. It's the most effective weapon for this type of target."
On Valentine's Day the ship moved north to a position just below the DMZ to provide support for the Third Marine Division. At about 1345 that afternoon a U.S. observation aircraft on a reconnaissance mission over the Southern half of the DMZ received unknown caliber automatic weapons fire from an enemy position four miles Northwest of Gio Linh near the North bank of the Ben Hai River in the northern half of the DMZ. The aerial observer sighted the weapons position and directed NEW JERSEY’s fire onto the location silencing the enemy fire.
That night three of NEW JERSEY's Firecontrol Technicians were instrumental in the safe recovery of a downed pilot. Petty Officers third class William D. Meskimen, Richard R. Guy, and Richard B. George were on watch in the ship's forward MK 37 director when the ship responded to an emergency call from the downed aviator in the vicinity of Tiger Island. The trio initiated a search and in short order they found their tiny target bobbing in the darkness that was the South China Sea. Their alertness made it possible for the man to be picked up by helicopter.
On Saturday, the 15th, NEW JERSEY continued firing her main and secondary batteries in support of the Third Marines. Just before dusk the ship received word from the beach that Communists were setting up a rocket site for night firing. The site was in the Southern half of the DMZ, 11 miles northeast of Con Thien. NEW JERSEY immediately opened up with her main battery and fired until well after dark. The ground observer reported 25 secondary explosions and seven fire balls rising 500 feet in the air and completely lighting up the night sky.
Heavy fog on Sunday morning precluded any observed missions and in the afternoon NEW JERSEY departed station to rearm from VESUVIUS. Both five and 16-inch ammunition was received and retrograde was sent back in three hours and 15 minutes alongside. That night NEW JERSEY returned to station but did not fire in observance of the Allied stand down for the Lunar New Year. On the night of the 17th the ship resumed gunfire support, conducting unobserved 16-inch missions at known enemy areas.
On the morning of 18 February NEW JERSEY was honored by a visit of Admiral John J. Hyland, Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet, and Vice Admiral William F. Bringle, Commander Seventh Fleet. Admiral Hyland addressed the men of NEW JERSEY over the ship's closed circuit TV system. He said, ". . . we have admired your performance out here. You've had a long and hard cruise. Your clients ashore couldn’t be more pleased with the way you’re supporting them. Your whole performance has drawn the admiration of military and civilian authorities who have been watching what you do out here . . ."
The following day Major General Raymond G. Davis, Commanding General of the Third Marine Division, flew out to the ship for a visit.
Thursday morning NEW JERSEY left station briefly to rearm from USS MT BAKER (AE-4). Two hundred-twenty tons of 16-inch projectiles and powder were received and twelve and one-half tons or retrograde went back.
NEW JERSEY continued firing observed missions by day and both observed and unobserved missions by night through Saturday, 22 February. That night turned out to be the busiest of NEW JERSEY's entire deployment.
Just after 0100, while NEW JERSEY was firing prearranged unobserved fire, she received an urgent call for fire from a Marine outpost about 1,000 meters south of the DMZ which was under attack. The post, named Oceanview, was manned by about 20 Marines and a Naval Gunfire Liaison team. It was attacked by a force later estimated to be about 130 North Vietnamese Regulars. Following is a chronological record of the night's action taken from the ship's operation report:
One thousand-seven hundred ten 5-inch rounds were fired that night in nearly six hours of continuous fire. At various times throughout the night NEW JERSEY was teamed with the Coast Guard cutter OWASCO and two artillery batteries. One spotter, Lance Corporal Roger Clouse of Lincoln, Nebraska, controlled all fire that night, and at one point he was firing six batteries simultaneously. He was recommended for the Bronze Star for his night's work.
This mission served as a concrete example of how important every man is to NEW JERSEY's mission. For although the gunners fire the rounds, credit belongs to everyone. From the food servicemen who keep the crew on the go, to the engineers who answer every bell, to supply who keeps the ship in spare parts, to the officer of the deck and the entire watchstanding team, to the navigation team who keep the ship in clear water and the batteries unmasked, to the operators who maintain a constant flow of information and a secondary fire control solution, every man had to do his part for "Firepower for Freedom." The ability to sustain fire with every gun on the engaged side, without going to General Quarters, would have been non-existent without this teamwork.
The Commanding Officer at the outpost, Marine Major Ronald Smaldone, said later that "if it hadn't been for NEW JERSEY, they would have zapped our ...!"
On Monday the ship left station to replenish five and 16-Inch ammunition and receive mail from WRANGELL. While returning to station she refueled and received passengers, mail and fleet freight from USS NECHES (AO-47) The ship was back on station off the DMZ at 1730 and conducted secondary battery firing throughout the night. Continuing her support on Tuesday, the 25th, she sent seven secondary explosions ripping through enemy arms and munitions caches near Con Thien. On Wednesday NEW JERSEY again replenished stores vertically, this time with USS NIAGRA FALLS (AFS-3) providing services. Again, the Dreadnought remained on station ready for call for fire.
NEW JERSEY continued in support of the Third Marine Division into March and remained on station just south of the DMZ. The watchstanding teams by this time were getting quite accustomed to seeing the same terrain and landmarks, NEW JERSEY spent 24 consecutive days in support of the Third Marine Division between 14 February and 9 March, For the navigation team this basically meant holding the 58,000 ton ship in a 1,000 yard square while coping with tricky currents and keeping a close watch on the suspected enemy shore batteries on Tiger Island. Except for the brief periods she was off the line rearming or refueling, NEW JERSEY was a permanent fixture at 16E 54' N.
NEW JERSEY hosted a familiarization visit for 50 men from the Army's 61st Infantry, Quang Tri during the first week in March. They and the men of NEW JERSEY came to know each other well, and much valuable information was passed both ways. A few war stories were told, too.
Two men of the 61st appeared on the ship's closed circuit TV system and told the men of NEW JERSEY something about their impressions of "Firepower for Freedom." Staff Sergeant Charles Frazier, of Chicago, Illinois, had seen NEW JERSEY fire at an enemy bunker complex a short time earlier. "When NEW JERSEY fires it looks like an old-time war movie," he said. He added, "Your projectiles buzz down trees and scorch the area for several hundred meters." Sergeant Frazier went on to talk about the psychological effect of having NEW JERSEY on station. "It gives us a tremendous psychological advantage," he said. "Charlie isn't stupid. He knows you're out here and he knows we can call you in anytime, day or night."
Another 61st Infantry soldier, Specialist Four John Ford, recounted a day when his mechanized outfit was on patrol. "We were moving through an area where NEW JERSEY had recently been firing. The driver of one of our armored personnel carriers saw a crater made by a 16-inch shell and maneuvered to get a closer look at it. Well, he got a little too close, and his 52-ton vehicle got stuck in the crater. It took us seven hours to pull him out."
NEW JERSEY rearmed from MT KATMAI on 8 March and during the night of the 9th proceeded South to support the Republic of Vietnam’s Second Division near Quang Ngai. Arriving on station at 0600 on the 10th, NEW JERSEY fired throughout the day, destroying 37 military structures and 13 bunkers. Airborne observers reported an additional 43 structures and 24 bunkers damaged plus four secondary explosions.
On Tuesday, the 11th, the ship rearmed from WRANGELL in the morning and returned to the gunline in the afternoon. Firing simultaneous five and 16-inch salvos, she destroyed or damaged 50 structures and nine bunkers.
NEW JERSEY continued her support of the Second ARVN's until she was detached Wednesday night. On Thursday morning USS NEWPORT NEWS (CA-148) came alongside to receive turnover material. NEW JERSEY's boss, Rear Admiral Thomas J. Rudden, Jr., Commander Task Group 70.8, came over by highline to brief NEW JERSEY's crew before she was detached to proceed to Subic Bay.
Admiral Rudden, who hails from the state of New Jersey, has long held a keen interest in the Battleship. He was instrumental in the initial phases of reactivation. After NEW JERSEY's refresher training in the summer of '68, Admiral Rudden had expressed his admiration for the men of NEW JERSEY. Seeing the ship in action in the Western Pacific had confirmed his opinion. Addressing the crew on TV, he said: "Your performance out here has been nothing short of magnificent. You have fully justified every effort that was made to get you on the line as quickly as possible. Every man in this ship's company can be mightily proud of being a NEW JERSEYMAN and I'm mightily proud to have you under my command...".
NEW JERSEY departed the gunline at 1645 on the 13th and set a course to Subic Bay. She arrived on the 15th for five days of upkeep prior to the final line period of the deployment.
The highlight of this in port period was a meeting of the Philippines-United States Mutual Defense Board on 19 March. We were honored to have the opportunity of hosting this meeting.
The meeting was attended by 65 members including twelve Philippine and U.S. flag and general officers. Heading the group was General Manuel T. Yan, Chief of Staff of the Philippines Armed Forces. U.S. flag officers in attendance were Rear Admiral D. L. Kauffman, Commander Naval Forces Philippines Major General Lloyd C. Gomes, U.S.A., Chief of the Joint U.S. Military Assistance Group to the Philippines; Major General Kenneth C. Dempster, Vice Commander of the 13th Air Force and Rear Admiral V. C. Lambert, Commander U.S. Naval Base Subic Bay.
After leaving Subic, NEW JERSEY made a high speed run to return to the gunline, arriving off South Vietnam's II Corps the following morning. NEW JERSEY immediately took under fire Viet Cong strongholds some 15 and 36 miles Southwest of Cam Ranh Bay. Supporting The Republic of Korea's Ninth Infantry Division, the ship's huge guns destroyed 32 military structures and 11 caves that first day back on the line.
For the next seven days NEW JERSEY steamed up and down the 156 miles of coast line between Phan Thiet and Tuy Hoa shelling Viet Cong base camps and supply areas. The biggest day was 26 March when her one-ton projectiles smashed 72 bunkers and five structures Southwest of Phan Thiet. On the 27th, NEW JERSEY hosted Lieutenant General Charles A. Corcoran, Commanding General IFFV and Brigadier General Winant Sidle, Commanding General 1FF Artillery to an afternoon visit.
Late on the afternoon of 28 March, due to increased enemy activity south of the DMZ and in response to an urgent request from Commander U.S Military Assistance Command Vietnam, the gun-line Commander directed NEW JERSEY to proceed North to support the Third Marine Division. While proceeding North the ship refueled from USS HASSAYAMPA (AO-145) and rearmed from WRANGELL. NEW JERSEY arrived on station Saturday at 1330 and fired observed main battery missions until nightfall. She fired unobserved missions that night.
NEW JERSEY remained on station until 0600 1 April, finishing the deployment where she had begun it more than six months earlier. The last observed mission was fired on the evening of 31 March against an enemy bunker complex three-and-one-half miles northeast of Con Thien. The aerial observer reported seven bunkers destroyed. An additional 50 rounds of main battery and 815 rounds of secondary battery were fired unobserved that night.
This brought the total ordnance expended to nearly 12,000,000 pounds in 120 days on the gunline. Total rounds expended were 5,866 16-inch and 14,891 five-inch. Main battery rounds expended during NEW JERSEY's deployment to Vietnam were only 1,500 short of the total she fired in World War II, two cruises to Korea, and several midshipmen cruises.
It is worthy of note that NEW JERSEY accomplished all this with a crew one-half the size of her World War II complement. But then, too, one must remember that she was served, not by ordinary men, but by NEW JERSEYMEN. As Captain Snyder remarked,
"The men on today's NEW JERSEY are not afraid to experiment, to innovate, to reject old and begin new traditions. They are linked to their heritage yet not chained to the past. They are younger, better educated, and more individualistic than the men I knew as a junior officer on the Battleship PENNSYLVANIA 25 years ago. The NEW JERSEY crew is undoubtedly the finest and most professional group of men with which I have ever had the privilege of serving."
NEW JERSEY spent one day in Subic Bay and two in Yokosuka before she steamed Eastward and home. Once again the men of NEW JERSEY would be united with the loved ones they had left behind, some as long as a year before.
After joining Task Group 77.6, and in company with USS CORAL SEA (CVA-43), USS JOHN PAUL JONES (DDG-32), USS PORTERFIELD (DD-682) and USS MORTON (DD-948) NEW JERSEY set course 089, speed 23 knots.
The transit proceeded uneventfully for a week. Routine training exercises were conducted among the ships daily, for Navymen never miss an opportunity to drill and sharpen their skills. During the transit the ship received this message from Lieutenant General Stillwell, Commanding General XXIV, which NEW JERSEY supported often during the deployment:
"You depart the line with accolades from the troops you supported. Your responsiveness and willingness to undertake even the most difficult mission were in keeping with the highest standards of. the Naval Service. XXIV Corps thanks you for a job well done."
Admiral Rudden added his remarks:
"As you sail for home I take pleasure in commending you on your tremendous contribution to the mission of the Seventh Fleet. In all areas of operations, your initial Vietnam deployment has been an outstanding success. The performance of the officers and men of NEW JERSEY from reactivation, through recommissioning, pre-deployment training and finally to the last gunfire support mission, has left nothing to be desired. In each of these phases they have demonstrated the highest caliber of professional competence, spirited teamwork, and devotion to duty.
"While on SEA DRAGON NGFS duties NEW JERSEY'S highly accurate fire and overwhelming destruction of enemy assets reaffirmed the vital role and significant contribution of major caliber naval guns in support of friendly forces ashore.
"Your record of damage to enemy assets is indeed impressive and is one all hands can be proud of. The troops ashore will miss your willing and responsive attitude to lend your fullest support on their behalf, even under very difficult situations. Well Done!"
The dreams of NEW JERSEYMEN and their families were not to be realized on schedule, however. She was scheduled to arrive Long Beach at 1000 local, 19 April. On the morning of 15 April, when she was only 1,800 miles from Long Beach, NEW JERSEY received a message which was clearly not part of any drill. The Officer of the Deck, LT R. B. Glaes, received a voice signal over PRITAC from Commander Task Group 17.2 to detach immediately and proceed in accordance with CINCPACFLT message 151717Z APRIL 69. At 0819 the conning officer, LTJG R. S. Cheyne, gave the order to the helm: "Left standard rudder, steer course 290." NEW JERSEY was on her way back to the Western Pacific.
A few hours earlier, 31 American lives had been lost in the cold waters of the Sea of Japan. An EC-121 reconnaissance plane, flying on a routine mission, was shot down by Communist Korea aircraft in international waters. Parts of the wreckage and two bodies were later recovered some 90 miles from land.
In immediate response to the incident, the Commander-in-Chief had ordered that a Naval task force be formed to proceed into the Sea of Japan. NEW JERSEY was ordered to Sasebo, Japan, in the event she would be needed.
NEW JERSEY proceeded at 25 knots, with an estimated time of arrival of first light on 23 April.
Needless to say, this sudden turn-around came as a shock to the crew. It is one thing to be separated from family and friends for long periods of time. It is quite another to be four days from. a long awaited reunion and have that reunion abruptly snatched away. But the crew accepted it stoically - they were NEW JERSEYMEN, and this was duty.
The security of events precluded immediate announcement of the diversion, and families back in the states were still looking forward to seeing husbands and sons on the 19th. Not until the evening of the 18th did the Department of Defense confirm that NEW JERSEY would not be home the next morning.
Commander Naval Base, Los Angeles, Commander Cruiser-Destroyer Group Long Beach, Mayor Edwin Wade, and the citizens of the Battleship's home port opened their hearts and homes to stranded families. A NEW JERSEY Family Assistance Center was organized immediately and over 250 dependents were supplied with aid and comfort.
Meanwhile, NEW JERSEY drove onward toward Japan. On the 19th, she refueled from USS KENNEBEC (AO-36). While alongside the ship received a message from Commander Seventh Fleet changing her destination from Sasebo to Yokosuka, Japan. She arrived at 0951 on Tuesday, 22 April, and received fuel, stores and provisions. In 13 days NEW JERSEY had steamed 7,042 miles, averaging 22.4 knots.
She left Yokosuka seven hours after arriving, amid much speculation on the part of the news media as to her destination.
Her true destination was a modified local operating area 100 miles in diameter, and centered about 175 miles Southeast of Yokosuka. Shortly after reaching this area, NEW JERSEY was directed to rearm from USS PARACUTIN (AE-18), which had left Sasebo only hours earlier. NEW JERSEY headed Southwest to expedite the rendezvous.
The two ships rendezvoused shortly after 1300 on the 24th for what was to be NEW JERSEY's largest underway replenishment of the cruise. In ten hours alongside, the Battleship received 837 tons of five and 16-inch ammunition.
Upon completion of the UNREP, NEW JERSEY returned to her holding area, steaming at eight knots to conserve fuel. She arrived at the perimeter of her area at noon. Thirty minutes
later NEW JERSEY was directed by Commander Seventh fleet message 260230Z APRIL 69 to "Commence transit to CONUS." At 1235 LTJG R. B. Ghilarducci ordered "right full rudder , all engines ahead full, indicate turns for 22 knots, steer course 090."
So, for the second time in less than three weeks, NEW JERSEY was enroute home from WESTPAC, As she departed, she received the following message from Vice Admiral William F. Bringle, Commander Seventh Fleet:
"I again bid you farewell. Your ready response to the unceremonious turnaround, your comprehension and discreet execution of orders and keen insight into the circumstances are most gratifying. Please extend to your officers and men my most sincere thanks for their forebearance and devotion to duty. I wish you all fair winds and following seas to expedite your delayed reunion with families and friends. Another well done...".
The transit this time was both fast and routine, and at 0900 on Monday, 5 May 1969, NEW JERSEY passed smartly through the Long Beach breakwater with her crew at parade quarters. She moored shortly thereafter at her "home" berth at Pier E, where she was enthusiastically greeted by thousands of NEW JERSEY family and friends, as well as over 50 local and national news media representatives.
As Captain Snyder discussed the eight-month deployment at one of the largest press conferences ever held for a returning ship, a happy-to-be-home crew began some much deserved leave and liberty. That night, virtually every major television network and newspaper discussed the Battleship's successful deployment. One week was set aside for rest and recreation, and then preparation for the second deployment to Vietnam would begin. A large part of NEW JERSEY's crew would be transferred to other duty stations or returned to civilian life during the summer months, and it would take time and effort on everyone's part to maintain the standards of professional performance established on the first cruise. On Wednesday, 7 May, the first 100 of these replacement sailors reported on board for duty.
On Saturday night of that week, tragedy struck the NEW JERSEY crew as Ensign Joseph Zajicek lost his life in a motorcycle accident in the San Gabriel mountains. His accidental death following a rigorous combat deployment during which not a single life was lost to injury, underscored to all hands the importance of safety in everyday life. Ensign Zajicek was a dedicated, enthusiastic young naval officer only a few months out of the Naval Academy. He was proud to be a Battleship sailor, and his family has remained in close touch with the ship.
NEW JERSEY left Pier E at 1130 on Monday, 12 May, and moved to Berth 13, Pier 1, Long Beach Naval Shipyard, for a three-week period of restricted availability, while minor repairs and routine maintenance could be carried out. The ship required no major repairs or alterations and in fact could have redeployed immediately if she had been required to. As the ship was being moved, Captain Snyder paid an official call on Rear Admiral Lloyd Vasey, USN, Commander Cruiser Destroyer Flotilla SEVEN, Commander, Cruiser Destroyer Group, LONG BEACH, and NEW JERSEY's operational commander. The Battleship had been selected to participate in PACMIDTRARON '69, the seven week summer Midshipman Training cruise, and Admiral Vasey would command the task group from USS NEW JERSEY. His would be the first operational flag to fly from the Dreadnought in her third commission. On Tuesday, at 0910, Admiral Vasey returned the Captain's call aboard NEW JERSEY.
Maintenance, leave, and upkeep continued in the shipyard through the remainder of the month of May. One hundred-four members and wives of the Palm Springs Navy League visited the ship on Thursday, 22 May, and hosted Captain and Mrs. Snyder at a dinner at the Allen Center Officers Club. NEW JERSEY dressed ship on 22 May in honor of National Maritime Day, and again on 30 May in observance of Memorial Day.
Wednesday, 28 May, saw 99 NEW JERSEYMEN take part in the COMCRUDESGRU LONG BEACH annual Olympiad. Competing in most of the myriad of athletic events, NEW JERSEY took fourth place out of all ships participating.
While the Olympiad was in progress, the Battleship's Supply Department was undergoing the rigorous Annual Supply Inspection. At the critique the following day, an overall grade of "outstanding" was announced. NEW JERSEY’s Supply Department was one of only five CRUDESPAC units to receive this highest possible grade.
On Monday, 2 June, the time of Restricted Availability officially came to an end, and at 1230 NEW JERSEY moved back to Berth 124, Pier E in the Naval Station. Upon completion of the move, Rear Admiral Vasey moved aboard with his staff and shifted his flag to NEW JERSEY from USS ISLE ROYALE and the Battleship became a flagship.
Throughout the week 100 man working parties labored to load fresh provisions, for NEW JERSEY’S short month in port was almost over. Thursday, 5 June, marked the arrival of the first group of Midshipmen as ten First Class "middies" from the Naval Academy reported aboard for duty. With their arrival NEW JERSEY joined Task Group 10.1, the Midshipmen Training Squadron under Admiral Vasey’s command. Long Beach Mayor Edwin Wade and his part toured the ship that day and had lunch with the Admiral.
On Saturday of the last weekend in Long Beach, the ship hosted invitational visiting for all of the service clubs and school groups which had requested tours over the past months. Public interest in the Battleship is always so high that it is impossible to host groups during working periods, and the reservation of specific days for guests greatly simplifies the problem. Over 50 groups visited the ship between the hours of 0830 and 1600, as a total of 1570 people came aboard.
That morning, 16 First Class and 89 Third Class Midshipmen reported aboard from NROTC units throughout the nation, completing NEW JERSEY'S Midshipmen detachment.
On Sunday afternoon, a stage show sponsored by the Hollywood Comedy Club was presented on the fantail and on Monday, 9 June at 0900, the Battleship, in company with other units of Task Group 10.1, got underway for local operations. The objective was two fold - first, the molding of the replacement sailors into the combat crew that had worked so well in Vietnam before, and second, the training and indoctrination of future naval officers in shipboard life. The ship went to General Quarters for 90 minutes Monday afternoon as the crew "walked through" a simulated Shore Bombardment exercise. It had been a month since the ship had operated - caution and safety were the watch-words of the day. That night engineering casualty control drills were held.
Tuesday marked the first firing exercises. Operating off San Clemente Island, the ship fired main and secondary battery shore bombardment exercises in three General Quarters periods during the morning, afternoon, and evening. The very first exercise fired was graded 97.5. Midshipmen completely manned two five-inch 38-caliber gun mounts, and finished out the daylight firing with a flat-out perfect score. The next morning the ship again fired shore bombardment exercises, and fully requalified NEW JERSEY in SHOBOM for the next year. An overall grade of "excellent" was awarded for the exercises. Firing antiaircraft exercises in the afternoon, four towed sleeves were shot down by the Battleship's crack Gunnersmates and Firecontrolmen. The Midshipmen continued their outstanding performance, getting their rounds off with the best of the pros.
Engineering Casualty Control drills were held through the night, while the ship steamed to the Pacific Missile Range arriving on station for Surface-to-Air Missile Exercises (SAMEX at 0530 on Thursday. NEW JERSEY acted as observation platform as USS ENGLAND (DLG-22) fired nine Terrier missiles at six aircraft-launched jet drones. Four DDG's, PARSONS; DECATUR, J. P. JONES, and SOMERS, joined in firing three Tartar missiles each. All missiles fired were non-warhead, telemetry-only types. The exercises were highly successful, but overcast sky conditions precluded direct visual observation of the results.
Additional SAMEX exercises, plus a SSMEX (Surface-to-Surface Missile Exercise) were scheduled for Friday morning, but drone problems necessitated cancellation of the events NEW JERSEY headed for Long Beach, mooring for the weekend at 1430. That night, the Allen Center Officers Club hosted a mixer for all Midshipmen in the Long Beach area. "Recovering" from their first week at sea, and released from duty for the evening, the "middies" reported an outstanding event.
Monday morning, 16 June, saw the Battleship underway at 0900 for five more days of rigorous training in local operations areas. Engineering Casualty Control Drills were carried out throughout the week. During General Quarters Monday afternoon, the ship requalified in anti-aircraft exercises involving towed-sleeve firing. On Tuesday afternoon and evening, NEW JERSEY set Weapons Condition II and requalified all three Condition II watch teams in SHOBOM. Wednesday morning was spent refueling from USS CHEMUNG (AO-30), with more anti-air firing in the afternoon. On Thursday, the Third Class Midshipmen learned a little about the "Old Navy" as they joined the Boatswain's mates in holystoning the Battleship's teakwood decks. In the afternoon General Quarters drills in Surface Gunnery Exercises were held.
Early Friday morning the ship conducted ECM checks off Seal Beach, then entered Long Beach Harbor at 1000 for her last weekend at home for six weeks. During the previous two weeks, NEW JERSEY had requalified in Naval Gunfire Support - main and secondary batteries. Two months later, she would receive the coveted Battle Efficiency "E" in competition with all CRUDESPAC cruisers and nuclear powered frigates for her training efforts.
Saturday morning, the Los Angeles NBC-TV affiliate, KNBC, broadcast its "Speak-up" TV show from the Battleship's forecastle. Informally interviewing about 50 NEW JERSEYMEN, the popular TV show asked about the Navy, the ship, the men and their jobs. Several men were awarded cash prizes for correctly answering questions posed by the interviewers.
On Monday, 23 June, NEW JERSEY got underway promptly at 0900 for a Task Group training cruise that would visit San Francisco, Tacoma, Pearl Harbor, and San Diego, before returning to Long Beach. Accompanying the ship on the first leg of the voyage were San Francisco Examiner reporter William Boldenweck and Mr. Charles Howe of the San Francisco Chronicle. The CRUDESPAC Band, which had crossed the Pacific aboard NEW JERSEY last September, came aboard for the entire voyage.
The first day in transit was spent conducting tactical maneuvering exercises with other ships in the Task Group, and practicing the 13-gun salutes which would be rendered to SOPA San Francisco and, later, to SOPA Puget Sound. At 1230 on Tuesday, NEW JERSEY passed under the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time in many years. As the 14 destroyers in column detached to moor at various San Francisco Bay berths, the Battleship stood by Treasure Island accompanied by a welcoming armada of pleasure craft. She saluted COMWESTSEAFRON Rear Admiral William H. Groverman, and moored starboard side to the Carrier Pier, NAS Alameda, at 1400. The ship was met by hundreds of dignitaries and friends, plus many NEW JERSEY families who had driven up to join their husbands. That night, a reception for the Task Group was held at the San Francisco Yacht Club, followed by a Midshipman Ball at the Veteran's Memorial Building.
The remainder of the week was spent in port, enjoying the traditionally outstanding San Francisco liberty. Meanwhile, however, NEW JERSEY's schedule remained as hectic as ever. Wednesday was general visiting day, and 12,730 Battleship enthusiasts toured the ship between the hours of 0900 and 1400. In the evening, the city hosted a dance for sailors from all Task Group ships at the Veteran's Auditorium.
On Thursday and Friday, over a thousand military visitors toured the ship by invitation. At noon on Thursday, Captain Snyder addressed the San Francisco Navy League at the Nimitz Officers' Club, Treasure Island. Friday evening, Admiral Vasey expressed the Task Group's thanks for San Francisco's hospitality by hosting a reception for local dignitaries on the Battleship's forecastle and in the wardroom. In attendance at the party were Admiral and Mrs. John J. Hyland, CINCPACFLT.
The ship's bugler sounded "Underway" once more at 0715 Saturday morning, 28 June, and NEW JERSEY was enroute Puget Sound to join the City of Tacoma in her centennial week celebration. Passing under the Golden Gate at 0815, the Battleship bid a reluctant farewell to the City by the Bay and joined the Task Group at the lightship for the transit North.
Routine training, holystoning, and cleaning kept all hands busy during the voyage, and at dawn of the third day out, the ship entered the Straits of Juan de Fuca in a heavy fog and slowed to eight knots. Speed was slowly increased as the visibility improved, until NEW JERSEY broke out into a warm, sunny day and a speed of 20 knots. The Puget Sound pilot came aboard off Point Angeles, and at 1345 the ship left formation to circle Elliot Bay and pass by the city of Seattle. As Washingtonians lined the shores and hillsides, NEW JERSEY fired a 13-gun salute to SOPA Puget Sound, Commander THIRTEENTH Naval District, Rear Admiral Frank L. Johnson. Proceeding then down the sound, the Battleship steamed around Commencement Bay and anchored off Tacoma at 1630. One guided missile destroyer, USS PARSONS, and USS CABILDO, proceeded into port at Tacoma's new pier facilities.
Literally hundreds of power and sailing craft had met NEW JERSEY and escorted her through the Sound, requiring two Coast Guard cutters to keep the channel clear. As she anchored, Admiral Vasey's barge (which had been brought up earlier aboard USS CABILDO) brought Tacoma Mayor Rasmussen and the Centennial Queen and her court out to the ship to express official greetings. That night, the city hosted an officers' reception at the Winthrop Hotel.
NEW JERSEY remained in Commencement Bay through Friday, the Fourth of July, as other Task Group units visited Seattle and Vancouver, Washington, Victoria, British Columbia, and other Pacific Northwest ports. In Tacoma, the city was opened to the Navymen. Throughout the week picnics, fishing trips, and tours of Mt. Rainier were sponsored by the Centennial Committee. Free bus service was provided from the landing to the downtown area. A Midshipmen's Ball was held Tuesday evening. The ship hosted general visiting on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. This was the first time the Battleship had held general visiting at anchor. Floats were provided by CABILDO and transported over 7,000 guests to the ship and back without incident. On Thursday, several military and civic groups visited the ship by invitation. Thursday night, Admiral James S. Russell, Jr. USN (Ret.) and Mayor Rasmussen joined Admiral Vasey for dinner in the Halsey Suite. The next day was the Fourth, and the ship was full dressed for the holiday. At noon, the hills around Tacoma echoed with the sound of NEW JERSEY's 21-gun salute to the nation. Continuing the practice of hosting civic receptions during port visits, Admiral Vasey invited over 125 Puget Sound dignitaries to a reception in the Wardroom Friday evening.
As the holiday drew to a close, the port visit also ended. At 1000 on Saturday, 5 July, NEW JERSEY weighed anchor and headed for the Pacific Ocean and a 7-day transit to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The Task Group reformed off the Oregon coast and conducted tactical maneuvering exercises through the voyage west. This Midshipmen Training Cruise marked the first time since recommissioning that NEW JERSEY had participated in a major fleet operation. Accustomed to independent steaming, the OOD's got much needed practice breaking tactical signals and solving maneuvering board problems. The Midshipmen especially benefited from the experience. Monday morning, the 7th, NEW JERSEY and several other Task Group ships refueled from the fleet oiler USS MISPILLION (AO-l05) . Various other exercises, training drills, lectures, and classes were conducted for both the Middies and the crew as time allowed.
Around noon on Saturday NEW JERSEY, in the vanguard of a Task Group column formation, passed by Diamond Head enroute the Pearl Harbor channel. It was a typically beautiful Hawaiian day marked only by strong gusty winds which managed to inundate the 04-level open bridge with heavy spray. Greeters lined the channel to welcome the Dreadnought back to one of her favorite ports. She moored just after 1400, starboard side to Pier Bravo. Liberty went as the brow came over, as usual. Midshipmen prepared for a mixer at the Officers' Club Tea House as the crew headed for Waikiki and the afternoon surf and sun. No general visiting had been planned for the visit, so the crew could keep a schedule of maintenance in the mornings and sunshine in the afternoons. A full schedule of briefings and indoctrination lectures occupied the Midshipmen's mornings to good advantage. The large number of military personnel in Hawaii desiring to visit the Battleship kept a duty-section force of 25 tour guides more than busy throughout the in-port period.
On Tuesday evening, the Hawaiian Navy League hosted a Midshipmen beach party at the Outrigger Canoe Club. From the reports in the next day's society pages, it appeared the city was as impressed with the Training Squadron Midshipmen as the Middies were with the city.
Plans to get the Task Group underway for training exercises, and the transit to San Diego on Friday, were modified as it became known that no oiler services would be available for the destroyers in transit. Training Squadron destroyers got underway early Friday for Hawaiian op-area exercises as NEW JERSEY remained in port. The destroyers returned to Pearl Harbor Saturday afternoon for liberty and refueling
Sunday was the historic occasion of man's first moonwalk, and as most Americans celebrated with a holiday Monday, Task Group 10.1 got underway at 0930, enroute San Diego.
The six-day transit was highlighted by Tuesday night's smoker on the fantail, consisting of a CRUDESPAC Band concert, boxing and wrestling matches, and humorous skits by the Midshipmen.
On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday NEW JERSEY went to General Quarters for Damage Control exercises as part of her comprehensive pre-deployment training program.
Three separate award ceremonies were held that week as 154 men received individual awards and citations for their service aboard NEW JERSEY in Southeast Asia. These were the first of many award ceremonies to be held throughout the summer.
As the voyage continued, embarked Midshipmen in all units competed in formal rated exercises to determine Squadron standings. NEW JERSEY's Midshipmen rated fourth in the 14-ship competition covering many aspects of naval skills.
Sunday morning the Task Group passed Ballast Point in column formation and NEW JERSEY moored starboard side to the quay wall, Naval Air Station, North Island at 0900.
Immediately after mooring, the CRUDESPAC Band disembarked. Their talented performance and spirited enthusiasm greatly contributed to the training cruise.
Upkeep and Midshipmen training continued during the short three-day stay in San Diego.
Wednesday morning, 30 July, NEW JERSEY got underway at 0900 for a short cruise North to Long Beach That afternoon NEW JERSEY participated in surface-firing exercises. Her main battery engaged surface action to port, expending 26 rounds in sinking the target hull RAVEN, an ex-fleet mine sweeper. It took NEW JERSEY two spotter rounds to zero-in with the second round a direct hit During the remaining rounds the ship scored numerous direct hits and culminated with the RAVEN’s sinking, bow first.
Thursday morning the Dreadnought passed through the Long Beach breakwater in a heavy pre-dawn flog, and dropped the hook at 0600 at the Seal Beach ammunition anchorage. After replenishing the five and 16-inch ammunition expended during the Training Cruise NEW JERSEY steamed into the Long Beach Naval Station and moored in the late afternoon at her home berth, Pier Echo.
NEW JERSEY had only one short month in which to onload all supplies for redeployment, make repairs to equipment and revitalize all systems while carrying on normal upkeep and maintenance. Despite this hectic schedule, NEW JERSEYMEN's efficient productivity permitted a liberal leave and liberty schedule.
Friday morning the Midshipmen of Task Group 10.1 departed their ships for a month's vacation prior to returning to their colleges and universities. Prior to their leaving, NEW JERSEY's Midshipmen detachment wrote the following message:
"To the officers and men of the USS NEW JERSEY: There is not much we can say to a crew that spent eight months in WESTPAC and returned to the States only to find their much deserved inport time cut in half by a Midshipmen Cruise. It is never easy to handle one hundred inexperienced men, and under the circumstances, it was particularly trying. However, all of you took the burden and unselfishly made your time our time - and we thank each and every one of you."
Later that morning, in a ceremony on the Captain's deck, Admiral Vasey presented Captain Snyder with a Combat "V" for his previous Legion of Merit, and a gold star in lieu of his second award, for outstanding service in recommissioning, pre-deployment training, and combat operations against the enemy. He would later receive the "Gallantry Cross, Second Degree," from the Vietnamese government for service in Southeast Asia.
The beginning of the week of 4 August saw NEW JERSEYMEN gathered on the forecastle for the fourth post-deployment awards ceremony in which additional NEW JERSEYMEN received recognition.
The final chapter of PACMIDTRARON ‘69 was concluded as the COMCRUDESFLOT SEVEN staff debarked on Monday afternoon, followed by the shifting of Admiral Vasey's flag to USS ISLE ROYAL on Tuesday morning.
In a parting message to NEW JERSEY, Admiral Vasey remarked:
"As my flag ship for the 1969 Pacific Midshipman Trainina Squadron, USS NEW JERSEY again clearly demonstrated the outstanding professionalism, enthusiasm, and can-do spirit which marked your splendid performance during last year's deployment to Southeast Asia. Well Done."
Ending the week a group of college students called "The Sound Generation" presented their second annual performance, a swinging musical concert, on the forecastle.
During the period 11-20 August, deployment preparations continued at an accelerated pace. Arrangements were being made for the second annual Family Cruise, to be held on Monday, 25 August, and for the 27 August Change of Command ceremony when Captain Robert "C" Peniston would relieve Captain Snyder as Commanding Officer. Additionally, the ship's Pre-deployment and Administrative Inspections were scheduled for 22 August and all NEW JERSEYMEN wanted to better last year's overall grade of "excellent" with a perfect grade of "outstanding".
On Tuesday, 12 August, word was received that NEW JERSEY would be awarded the Navy Unit Commendation for her service in Southeast Asia. The citation, from Secretary of the Navy John H. Chafee, read as follows:
"The Secretary of the Navy takes pleasure in commending USS NEW JERSEY (BB-62) for service as set forth in the following citation:
"For exceptionally meritorious service from 17 September 1968 to 11 April 1969 while engaged in operations against enemy aggressor forces in the waters contiguous to the coastline of North Vietnam and the Republic of Vietnam. Serving five tours as a much sought after Naval Gunfire Support unit, USS NEW JERSEY was a major contributor to the unique Sea Dragon operations, during which time she fired a total of 641 highly successful main and secondary battery missions. Her highly accurate and overwhelmingly destructive fire compiled an impressive record of damage to enemy troops, artillery and coastal defense sites, structures, hardened bunkers, ammunition dumps and supply storage's. In addition, NEW JERSEY's massive fire power was credited on several occasions with preventing a numerically superior enemy force from overrunning United States Marine positions near the Demilitarized Zone, thereby saving countless American lives. Such outstanding performance once again illustrated the vital role of major caliber Naval guns in support of friendly forces ashore. When engaged by enemy shore batteries on two separate occasions, the crew of NEW JERSEY demonstrated superb professionalism and fully developed team work in carrying out highly effective maneuvers to avoid the fall of shot while simultaneously delivering devastatingly accurate counterbattery fire. The superior technical acumen, battle efficiency, spirit of cooperation, and aggressive leadership displayed by the officers and men of USS NEW JERSEY reflect great credit upon themselves, their ship and the United States Naval Service."
On Monday, 18 August, NEW JERSEY commenced a three-day, 24-hour a day Ordnance Review to determine the material readiness of all installed ordnance and firecontrol equipment for the forthcoming deployment. All equipment was found to be in one hundred percent working order.
Captain Peniston reported aboard for duty on Wednesday morning, 20 August, and began a series of Departmental briefings and tours of working spaces.
The next day, with only 15 days remaining before NEW JERSEY's scheduled deployment date, and after virtually all deployment preparations were completed, the decision was announced by Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird to inactivate the Battleship NEW JERSEY and over 100 other Navy ships. This was part of a defense spending cutback prompted by Congressional pressure. The decks fell silent as Captain Snyder announced the deactivation decision over the 1-MC.
No one likes to leave his home for an extended deployment, but NEW JERSEYMEN believed in their ship and her mission. The next week at the Change of Command ceremony, Captain Snyder spoke for all NEW JERSEYMEN when he remarked:
"War is hell, and it is also expensive, and the American people have tired of the expense of defending freedom. And so this year when the winter monsoon comes to Vietnam and prevents the planes from accurately supporting our Allied ground forces, NEW JERSEY will not be there. The ship that made the motto "Firepower for Freedom" a reality will be abandoned in Bremerton. And the American boys who looked to the 'Big J' for their very lives must look elsewhere."
Meanwhile, life went on aboard the Dreadnought. NEW JERSEY was once again the focal point of news media interest. Every major Los Angeles television station and newspaper interviewed NEW JERSEYMEN concerning the inactivation. Friday afternoon Captains Snyder and Peniston were interviewed on Los Angeles TV's TEMPO program in which they expressed their shock and sorrow over the inactivation. Saturday night, 50 NEW JERSEYMEN were special quests at a performance of Dean Martin's television show as the Commanding Officer's "Hail and Farewell" party was held aboard the ship. A major factor in the overall success of the party was the use of Long Beach yachtsman Merle Stromberg's 110-foot motor-cruiser "Theresa," which was moored alongside NEW JERSEY for the cocktail hour.
NEW JERSEY's second annual Family Cruise was held on Monday, 25 August with 1563 guests of the officers and men on board. Among the highlights of the tour-and-a-half hour cruise off. the coast of Palos Verdes were a barbecue picnic lunch on the fantail while a band provided music alongside turret III. indicative of the nostalgic mood of the last Family Cruise was a moving ceremony on the forecastle in which Captain Snyder was presented with many handcrafted momentos from each of the ship’s Departments. Following the return to Long Beach, the final post-deployment awards ceremony was held on the fantail.
Tuesday, Admiral Vasey presented an award to the Supply Department, for receiving their overall grade of "outstanding" in the Annual Supply Inspection.
Wednesday morning, 27 August, with the crew at parade formation under overcast skies, Captain Robert "C" Peniston formally relieved Captain J. Edward Snyder as Commanding Officer, USS NEW JERSEY. At this time Admiral Vasey presented NEW JERSEY with the Navy Unit Commendation. Following a reception on the forecastle for the crew and invited guests, Captain Snyder departed for Newport, Rhode Island and duty as Chief of Staff and Aide to Commander, Cruiser-Destroyer Force, Atlantic Fleet.
Following the Change of Command ceremony the crew continued the off-loading of supplies which had begun immediately after the inactivation announcement was made the previous Thursday.
Friday afternoon, the first of many meetings was held with representatives of the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility, Bremerton, to discuss the inactivation schedule.
Small arms ammunition and other supplies were offloaded at the pier on Monday, 1 September, as the ship prepared to move the next day to Seal Beach ammunition anchorage to commence the offloading of all the ship's ordnance. Working from sunrise to sunset, NEW JERSEYMEN offloaded 2,000 tons of ammunition without injury or mishap, again demonstrating a professional performance that another ship would be hard pressed to match. Ordnance offload completed, NEW JERSEY returned for the last time to Pier Echo late Thursday afternoon.
Friday morning the ship's vehicles and Captain's gig were loaded for transit to Bremerton. In addition, over a dozen vehicles belonging to crew members were loaded in an effort to ease the logistic problems of relocation.
Also that morning, Rear Admiral Thomas J. Rudden, COMCRUDESFLOT THREE, came aboard and in a formal ceremony on the forecastle presented NEW JERSEY with the Battle Efficiency "E" for the competitive period ending 30 June 1969. In a message to the ship concerning the award, RADM Rudden stated:
"Winning the "E" is a notable achievement in itself. In the case of NEW JERSEY with the double handicap of a hectic schedule and a long deployment, winning this singular honor is a proud achievement indeed. Well done to each and every man on board."
In a heartwarming display of community affection, U.S. Senator George Murphy, many citizens of Long Beach, the 11th Region Navy League Council, as well as various officials of local government, gathered on Pier Echo for NEW JERSEY's departure from Long Beach on 6 September. They gathered to pay tribute to the ship and her crew as an expression of gratitude and appreciation for what the ship represents. This impressive farewell was initiated and coordinated by the Beverly Hills Chapter of the Navy League.
As an unexpected rain shower fell on Long Beach and the ceremony concluded, NEW JERSEY got underway at 0900 sharp for Bremerton, Washington on the last voyage of the last Dreadnought.
Joining NEW JERSEY on this trip were 17 secretary of the Navy guests and a detachment of 25 Navy League Sea Cadets from the Long Beach area.
Many fond memories returned to Captain Peniston as he walked the teakwood decks to the sounds of holystoning, for he was a Battleship sailor. NEW JERSEY had been the first ship he had set foot upon as an Annapolis Midshipman in July 1943 and the first ship he served upon as a commissioned officer. He had joined the Battleship in Bremerton in 1946 and now was taking her back there for perhaps her final time.
Numerous messages were received honoring the ship. One, from the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral T. H. Moorer, read as follows:
"On the occasion of USS NEW JERSEY's departure from Long Beach for inactivation, I take pleasure in saluting the superb team of Navymen who brought the name of this gallant ship to prominence through outstanding performance and accurate gunnery. Her reputation for effective firepower has gained her professional respect throughout the Fleet and the fearful respect of our enemies. In returning to retirement NEW JERSEY has added a distinguished chapter to her hard-hitting tradition of World War II, and is an example to all who remain in the Active Fleet. To those who made it so --- Well Done."
General Quarters exercises were held Saturday morning for a final operational test of all systems to determine any existing deficiencies and to check the readiness of the ship's Damage Control organization to respond to emergencies.
As the Secretary of the Navy guests and Sea Cadets were indoctrinated in Battleship life, the crew enjoyed a last opportunity for skeet-shooting on the fantail and bingo on the mess decks.
At midnight, Sunday, 7 September, the ship was officially released from the Pacific Fleet and reported to the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility, Bremerton with her status now "In Commission, In Reserve".
NEW JERSEY entered the Straits of Juan de Fuca at 0600 on Monday, and began the last leg of her journey under cloudless summer skies. Arriving in Bremerton in the late afternoon, the ship moored starboard side to Mooring Alfa, a dead-ship pier. Much of the excitement of entering port was missing when NEW JERSEY arrived at Bremerton, for this was a sad moment. The military bands and joyous crowds were absent. In their place, three forgotten cruisers rested across the way in silent witness to NEW JERSEY's fate.
There is little to document about the days in Bremerton. No one notices when a sailor carries his seabag down the brow and, glancing back once, goes his separate way. Or when a box of stores, brought aboard a few weeks ago is carted off again, Or when the fancy work on a third-deck ladder is cut off and the ladder painted gray. But one hundred days, that is a different matter. In a hundred days, a crew of 1670 becomes 475. A 56,000 ton hull rises ten feet out of the water as all the supplies disappear. And a single footstep somehow echoes throughout the ship. How cold can a ship get, moored in the Washington winter? How quiet? How empty? MISSOURI knows, moored just down the way. IOWA and WISCONSIN know, back in Philadelphia. ARIZONA certainly knows. NEW JERSEY remembers how it was, and how it is again.
Suffice it to say that the days wore on, and the work was done. The book says four months are required to inactivate a Battleship. The crew of NEW JERSEY did it in 22 days less. On Sunday, 12 October, NEW JERSEY was moved into Drydock Four. Less than five weeks later, on 20 November, her hull cleaned, sealed, and preserved, she moved to Pier 6 and moored starboard side to. The intention and single goal of Captain Peniston and every NEW JERSEY sailor throughout the mothballing process was to inactivate the ship as carefully, quickly, and efficiently as possible, so that, should a Battleship ever be needed again, NEW JERSEY will be the ship chosen to serve. Both the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility, Bremerton cooperated one hundred percent in the effort. Only time will tell if the goal itself will be achieved.
Wednesday afternoon, 17 December, at 1330, Battleship NEW JERSEY entered the national spotlight for perhaps the last time as she left active service for the third time. Washington Governor Daniel J. Evans, Rear Admiral William F. Petrovic, Commander, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Rear Admiral Patrick J. Hannifin, Commandant THIRTEENTH Naval District, over 700 invited guests, and the nation looked on as Captain Peniston* read the directive ordering NEW JERSEY decommissioned, and, finally, ordered the colors and commission pennant lowered. At the conclusion of a ceremony truly befitting the Dreadnought, the crew marched off and boarded buses to start on journeys to new duty stations. Captain Arthur K. Keevil accepted the ship for the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility, Bremerton, and invited the guests to tour the Battleship's decks. The Governor went on to another meeting (for which he was already late). The guests went home to their families. Captain Peniston went on to command the guided missile cruiser USS ALBANY (CG-10) to finish his scheduled sea tour. And NEW JERSEY, she didn't do anything. She just lay there, waiting. It was, indeed, Dreadnought Farewell.
* Captain Peniston’s Farewell Remarks are included in Appendix A of enclosure (3).
Remarks of Captain Robert "C" PENISTON, U. S. Navy, at decommissioning ceremony, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Washington on 17 December 1969.
"When NEW JERSEY entered Puget Sound on 8 September, I told several representatives of the news media that I was glad to be back in the Pacific Northwest but not for the task that lay ahead. After 100 days, I have not changed my mind with the assigned task now virtually complete. Only an order is required to complete it. But before that order is issued, I would be remiss if I did not express our appreciation to Admirals Petrovic and Hannifin, the fine people of the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, and the naval activities in the area for their wonderful support. Our heartfelt thanks also go to the State Society of the Battleship NEW JERSEY which did so much for us throughout our tour and to the Society's President and Corresponding Secretary who traveled from New Jersey to be with us today. To Governor Evans and all the citizens of the state of Washington goes our deep appreciation for their many kindnesses and hospitality. Wherever NEW JERSEY has gone, she has, found her way into the hearts of the people. The citizens of Washington have been no exception and have demonstrated that they do indeed have warm and generous hearts.
"It was only 20 short months ago that the Battleship NEW JERSEY answered her third call to the colors and her return to the active rolls was warmly welcomed by those who loved freedom. Today, the mood is in direct contrast for we are here to mourn at her passing. But let our purpose be crystal clear. The battle is over, the last salvo fired. We are not here to ask why, but rather to pay tribute to, and to honor a great and gallant lady.
"The crew of NEW JERSEY was given a unique opportunity that day in April in Philadelphia -- one which comes but to few men. To the magnificent group of men assembled here plus their shipmates who have gone on to other assignments or to civilian life, who wear the mantle of 'Battleship sailor' for perhaps the last time, went the task of writing what may be the last chapter of the Dreadnought in the annals of American history.
"The stories of these men and their predecessors are legion and well document the glory of the big ships. In the crucible of war, the hallmark of the Battleship was forged, and in the conflict in Vietnam it may have forever ended. With the proud tradition of those who had gone before, the way was lighted for those who were to serve during NEW JERSEY's third tour. In August 1967, the call went throughout the service for men who would serve. They heard, and they came. From 'round the world and even from retirement they came because their country needed their skills and expertise to make NEW JERSEY, once again, a fighting ship.
"Through the cold winter of Philadelphia, NEW JERSEY's crew worked toward one objective -- that of preparing the ship for her mission of bombarding North Vietnam and providing massive gunfire support for the allied forces ashore in Southeast Asia. They did their work well, and on 6 April 1968, NEW JERSEY flew her commission pennant and her country's colors once again. Through the preparation for and during the shakedown training they worked against the clock and on 30 September 1968, 'Firepower for Freedom' was no longer just a motto. It became a reality for on that day the omnipotent 16" rifles thundered once again in the Pacific, and suddenly the enemy in Vietnam was confronted by an awesome weapon of devastating power. But his position was not unique for other enemies of America had felt the wrath of the Battleship NEW JERSEY in days gone before.
"For 152 days -- not 30 as some would have us believe --NEW JERSEY hammered the enemy giving him no respite and destroying his heretofore untouched havens of safety. Day and night, in muddy darkness and in dazzling sun, under overcast clouds and the driving rain of the monsoons, the men of the 'Big J' provided the gunfire that gave the enemy no rest, but enabled our fighting men ashore to sleep a little better.
"Their reward was not always a tangible one. All of the many small and seemingly insignificant tasks may have at times been viewed as unimportant or at best boring. But to those soldiers and Marines ashore who looked to the sea, particularly when the monsoons denied them the needed air support, the big ship became a lease on life. They will never forget the reassuring sound of the 'Freight Trains' as the deadly 16" shells whistled overhead on their way to the target. Those same men who have returned home will never forget the 'Big One' as NEW JERSEY was known to many ashore, and their families who saw a familiar smiling face return safe from Vietnam will never forget the magic hull number 62.
"Knowing that many did return home because of their time on the gunline is far greater satisfaction to the crew of the 'Big One' than any words that I or anyone else can express in their praise. But let me say that the Commanding Officer of NEW JERSEY could not have asked for more than these men gave.
"Mine is a very difficult task today for many reasons, and many of them are paraded on board before you. But it is particularly so because of my long association with NEW JERSEY. We met for the first time, although briefly, in July 1943 at Annapolis. In August 1946, here in Bremerton, I reported on board her for duty as a newly commissioned officer. Now I find myself the Captain of what always has been, literally and figuratively, the big ship of my life. Very shortly, I will give my last order as her Captain. That order will be to haul down the commission pennant. When it comes down she will be a steel shell, her crew gone, her guns silenced from within, lying in repose. She will have rejoined her sisters - IOWA, MISSOURI, and WISCONSIN.
"As that dreaded moment draws near, I cannot give that order without posing the questions: Looking back on her 26 years of service to her nation, what would she want said of her? What would she want remembered of her?
"I know she would want all to remember that she was born a fighting ship and she remained that way to the end.
"She would want it remembered that in three wars, she bore her nation's flag into battle in freedom's cause and brought it here today without it having being defiled while it was entrusted to her care.
"She would want it remembered that she gave her all and that no one expected any less."
"She would want it remembered that it had been said of her by many that her mighty 16" rifles were the most accurate artillery in the world, that they carried the biggest punch, that they could go where needed, when needed, and that once there they destroyed the enemy. She would also like it said that her presence, whether firing or silent, boosted the morale of countless numbers of our troops ashore in Vietnam."
"she would like to have the words of a young Marine remembered who told me that thanks to the 'Big J' he was awarded the Purple Heart instead of having it presented to his parents."
"I know she would quiver in pride at the words of another Marine, the Commanding General, III Marine Amphibious Force, who said: 'Regret I cannot attend the decommissioning Ceremony. We of the III Marine Amphibious Force ashore in Vietnam are saddened by this event."
"She would like it remembered that she led a charmed life in action against America's foes and that only once did an enemy shell take one of her crewmen from her.
"I know she would cherish the thought that when the inactivation decision was announced, her decks and passageway's fell silent and that the silence was broken only by exclamations of disbelief and the sobs of brave men weeping openly and unashamed. But in spite of their disappointment and chagrin, they would soon recall, as she would have them do, the lines by which she had lived.
"I know she would want it remembered that she always stands ready to defend the cause of freedom.
"And last I know that she leaves us holding most dear the salute of the naval service that transcends all others --- WELL DONE.
"The hour cometh and now is to say farewell. But, before doing so, my last order to you --- Battleship NEW JERSEY --- is rest well, yet sleep lightly, and hear the call, if again sounded, to provide 'Firepower for Freedom.'
"She will hear the call and thanks to her magnificent crew she is ready."
AMMUNITION EXPENDED IN WESTPAC
(CALENDAR YEAR 1969)
(CALENDAR YEAR 1969)
GUN DAMAGE ASSESSMENT
FOR 56 DAYS ON THE GUNLINE 1 JANUARY TO 1 APRIL 1969
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