The USS New Jersey has received more decorations than any other vessel in American history. Navy. It had a dramatic impact in Vietnam in a matter of months.
Whenever you hear the phrase “Vietnam War,” images of Huey helicopters and brutal jungle combat likely appear. Nonetheless, naval forces also played a role in the fight. The Iowa-class battleship USS New Jersey returned to South Vietnam after the 1968 Tet Offensive. The battleship’s goal was to blast the adversary into the Stone Age.
Until April 1969, the USS New Jersey continued to fire on targets. It exceeded my expectations. Within a year, New Jersey unleashed an incredible 12 million pounds of explosives on the enemy. That translates to 5,866 shells at 16 inches in length and 14,891 shells at 5 inches in diameter being launched.
It’s difficult to believe that New Jersey was responsible for many Vietnam targets’ destruction or severe damage. There are far too many diverse targets on this page.BattleshipNewJersey.org has all the needed numbers.
The ship’s primary and backup batteries caused significant damage. New Jersey troops were experts at destroying Communist structures, bunkers, artillery sites, mortars, anti-aircraft systems, roads, trenches, tunnels, and caverns; hence, the number of casualties was relatively low. Enemy bunkers took the biggest hit, with 596 of them being destroyed by the main battery. The secondary battery destroyed ninety-two buildings. Here you can watch footage of the New Jersey cannons being fired.
You may visit the New Jersey, or “Big J,” which is now a museum ship in Camden, New Jersey. There are 887 feet of length aboard the ship, which can carry 45,000 tonnes of cargo. In operational conditions, its top speed was 33 knots. It is equipped with nine 16-inch cannons. During the 1980s Cold War escalation, the Big J was retrofitted with missile tubes and a helicopter pad but still used to shell Syrian targets in Lebanon in 1983 and 1984. New Jersey has more awards than any other ship in American history.
The USS New Jersey’s Vietnam War veteran Gary Loers was recently highlighted by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. They will always remember the devastating might of its cannons. The privilege of walking her decks and viewing her 16-inch guns was remarkable. “It makes you proud to be an American,” he continued, “to see a ship like that.”
What prevented the USS New Jersey from serving longer in Vietnam? It was active in that location from the fall of 1968 to the beginning of the spring of 1969. Keeping the crew supplied with ammo, food, and other necessities probably came at a high cost. After all, this is a sizable crew, and New Jersey was the only battleship of the Iowa class to be deployed to Vietnam.
Furthermore, tactical considerations were important. Throughout the protracted battle, the Navy relied on carrier power. Instead of using normal Army or Marine Corps artillery, it was more important to deploy carrier-launched aircraft to attack North Vietnam and take out targets closer to Hanoi.
Still, for a limited time, the USS New Jersey saw extensive action in Vietnam. Not bad for a ship that wasn’t even launched until 1943, considering it killed or severely damaged hundreds of targets using millions of pounds of ammunition. Many American grunts fighting a fierce enemy in treacherous jungle terrain were undoubtedly spared due to the battleship’s shore bombardment mission.