Between the world wars, 1919-1939, international treaties
guaranteed naval superiority for Great Britain and the United
States, including a moratorium on new warship construction for
10 years. During the 1930s, countries that felt unfairly constrained
by treaties - Germany and Japan - abandoned their obligations.
Battleship evolution secretly leaped forward.
As tensions rose, American
naval theorists envisioned a war with Japan for the Pacific and
its sea lanes. Japans four frontline battleships, the Kongo
(-class), Haruna, Kirishima and Hiei, were
not only faster than U.S. battleships - but outgunned them as
well. Americas response was to build the Iowa class
- the Iowa, New Jersey, Missouri, Wisconsin,
Illinois and Kentucky. The latter two were delayed
during construction in favor of aircraft carrier production,
After Japanese carrier-borne
bombers incapacitated most of the Pacific Fleet battleline at
anchor in Pearl Harbor, aircraft carriers bypassed battleships
in naval strategy.
The New Jersey
was intended to form into a special strike force
of several Iowas supported by carriers and destroyers
- and operate in Japanese-held waters dotted with hostile air
bases. It was carefully crafted to seek an encounter with the
Japanese Navys main battle force on its own terms and engage
it victoriously. The New Jersey was made to use its superior
speed and Firepower for Freedom.
How a heavyweight
changed its punch
USS New Jersey