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South Jersey

Monday, May 14, 2001
Navy gives three more stars to battleship

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  • Read more that 300 articles about the USS New Jersey going back to 1939
    Courier-Post Staff

    The USS New Jersey has won three more battle honors even though it has not been actively sailing in the naval fleet for 10 years.

    The Navy has added three more campaign stars to the retired battleship's illustrious record since World War II, bringing its total stars to 19.

    The New Jersey, designated as BB-62, has received one additional bronze star for action in the Persian Gulf in 1990-91 and two other bronze stars as service awards.

    Service awards are honors for participation in military campaigns rather than specific battles.

    Navy officials updated the ship's record after a review requested by the Home Port Alliance, the nonprofit South Jersey group that is converting the ship into a museum on the Camden Waterfront.

    The advisory came in a letter dated April 30 from the Department of the Navy to Alliance curator Scott Kodger, who recently visited the Navy's historical center in Washington, D.C.

    The letter was from Barbara Wilson, head of the Board of Navy Decorations and Medals under the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations.

    "The terminology has changed over the years for bronze stars, but the practice of issuing them has not," said Wilson, referring to the change in name from battle stars to campaign stars.

    Kodger maintains the New Jersey is the most highly decorated battleship in the Navy's history, although the Navy does not describe any ship as officially the "most decorated."

    "She has now been given even higher honors than thought before," said retired rear admiral Thomas Seigenthaler, the Alliance's executive director.

    The ship already had been credited with nine stars for World War II battles in the Pacific, four stars for action in the Korean War and three stars for Vietnam. The ship also has 13 other citation decorations.

    The New Jersey is one of four Iowa-class battleships, the largest ever built by the Navy. It was launched Dec. 7, 1942, from the former Philadelphia Naval Shipyard and had a 48-year career.

    In addition to firing at planes and other ships, the battleship had the prime responsibility of providing protection for Marines landing on beachheads.

    The ship had nine, 16-inch guns, which could hurl shells up to 23 miles away. The New Jersey had a maximum speed of 33 knots and served as a the flagship for Adm. William " Bull" Halsey of Elizabeth.

    The stars and multicolored ribbons had been removed from the ship's superstructure after it was decommissioned in 1991 but will be displayed again when it opens to the public.

    Seigenthaler said the original ribbon boards are missing. "They were not inside the ship nor at the naval historical center, so we are ordering new ones," he said.

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