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Thursday, August 11, 2005Past Issues - S | M | T | W | T | F | S
South Jersey

December 7, 1942

Great warship named for N.J. is launched
$100,000,000 dreadnaught slides down ways at Phila. Navy Yard
Mrs. Chas. Edison christens craft

The USS New Jersey, heaviest battleship ever built and fast enough to operate with a speedy task force, was launched today at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on the first anniversary of Japan's sneak attack on Pearl Harbor.

The $100,000,000 super-dreadnaught was one of 12 Navy vessels which slid down the ways at East Coast shipyards today, to join the rapidly growing American global fleet. An airplane carrier and four other fighting craft were launched in New England shipyards and six minesweepers and a destroyer tender took to the water at Tampa, Fla.

The New Jersey was christened by Mrs. Carolyn Edison, wife of the governor, with a bottle of champagne made in this state, 24 hours after the aircraft carrier Belleau Wood slid down the ways at the New York Shipyard, and a day in advance of the launching of the heavy cruiser Miami at Cramp's Shipyard.

These answers to the Axis were bolstered by the launching of a minesweeper at the Mathis Shipyard Saturday, a merchant marine cargo ship at the Penn-Jersey Shipyard this afternoon, and a destroyer in the yards of the Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., Kearny.

As in the case of the Belleau Wood, only the personnel of the shipyard and a handful of sponsoring guests witnessed the christening of the New Jersey.

The New Jersey and its sister ship, the Iowa, launched Aug. 27 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard are the first of a new class of super battleships. Her strength is a naval secret, but it has been announced she will carry greater antiaircraft batteries and armor than the battleships of World War I design which were blasted by Jap airplanes at Pearl Harbor.

Governor Edison laid the ship's keel on Sept. 16, 1940, while he was Assistant Secretary of Navy.

Speaking at the brief ceremony this afternoon, Edison said:

"As this great ship is ready to start down the ways, there comes to the heart of all true Jerseymen a feeling of reverence and pride. She will be New Jersey's representative in the fleet and we know she will give a good account of herself.

"It was my good fortune to be Assistant Secretary of the Navy when her building was authorized in 1939 and it was then that President Roosevelt named her the New Jersey.

"On Sept. 16, 1940, I was here at the ceremonies that attended the laying of her keel. At that time it was thought that four years would be needed for her building. Now, in a little more than two years, she is ready to be launched. Today, as governor of New Jersey, I feel doubly fortunate and unusually honored to be present at her launching.

"In the 27 months she has been on these ways, thousands and thousands of Jerseymen have been among the workers at this great Philadelphia Navy Yard and many of them have had a personal part in her construction. They have watched her progress with particular pride. They know that the largest and most powerful man-o'-war in the world today is named for their commonwealth, and those of us who have had something directly to do with her are today especially happy.

"All the citizens of the great industrial and shipbuilding state of New Jersey will follow her future career with the keenest interest. We are delighted that in just a short time she will be ready to join the fleet. Since there are thousands of men from New Jersey now in the Navy, I am certain that men from our state will be aboard when she puts out to sea... to prove to our enemies that man for man and ship for ship ours is the greatest Navy in the world."

Commissioned Soon

Undersecretary of the Navy Forrestal, speaking at the launching, said the New Jersey "will be commissioned within the next five months."

"The building record of the New Jersey emphasizes the speed with which this nation has undertaken a task never before equalled in the history of any other country," he said.

Forrestal said battleships in combination with aircraft, submarines, cruisers and destroyers provide the "final striking power of our surface forces."

Launching of the New Jersey, he added, marks another step in America's campaign to "dominate the two oceans that wash our shores" in order to "guarantee the freedom of those oceans to all nations."

It took 64 distinct operations, the first of which was started 24 hours ago, to launch the tremendous battleship, which slipped smoothly across 100,000 pounds of heavy grease into the water while the Navy Yard band played "The Star Spangled Banner."

With the incoming tide reaching its peak ahead of schedule, the New Jersey was launched in the midst of an address by Rear Admiral Milo Draemel, commandant of the yard.

Forrestal cautioned against over of speculation about the length of this struggle," he commented. "Hope rises fast on the wings of victory, but I see no sign of an early conclusion and it seems to me to be extremely dangerous to indulge ourselves in such speculation.

"The war will be over when the German armies in the field are broken, when the blind and Daemonic fury of the Japanese millions is unable longer to keep their army and their navy in being."

In conclusion, Forrestal urged that the United States not make the same mistake after this war that we made 22 years ago when "after having become a great seapower, we deliberately and voluntarily abdicated that power."

"We have built and are building a great Navy. I urge upon you and the nation most solemnly that having built it we never will repeat the grim and tragic mistake of 22 years ago.

"The Germans when they scuttled their fleet at Scapa Flow at least did it to keep their forces from falling to the hands of an enemy. We did ours at home in our waters in the face of all that history had taught and all that wisdom should have foreseen."

The New Jersey's completion date, as announced prior to the war, was May 1, 1944. But progress on her is such that she will be completed many months ahead of schedule.

New Jersey is Fast

Official Navy figures and data on the speed, tonnage, design, batteries and armor of the New Jersey are a wartime secret. But Janes Fighting Ships, in its unofficial information, states that she has a length of 880 feet, a beam of approximately 108 feet, is approximately 52,000 tons displacement at full load, makes "over 30 knots," and has a main battery swinging nine 16-inch guns.

Her speed will be highly adequate for her to operate with fast task forces of aircraft carriers, cruisers and destroyers. Most U.S. battleships now in service date back to the first World War design, and are too slow for such operations.

Each of the New Jersey's massive anchors weighs more than an Army light tank. Her armor conceals 250 miles of electric cables and 80 miles of pipe. There are 800 miles of welding along her seams. Her electric generators can handle the equivalent of the industrial and domestic load of a city of about 20,000 population.

The Miami will be the first of the big warships launched by Cramp's since the yards were reopened two years ago after having been closed since 1927.

The launching of the Belleau Wood yesterday was a 15-minute affair, witnessed by only 300 persons while thousands of workers toiled nearby constructing other ships for future launchings.

The Belleau Wood honors the Marines for their historic World War I battle in France. It was converted from a cruiser under construction. She is the third carrier launched at the New York Shipyard in 15 weeks. The others are the Princeton and the Independence.

Mrs. Thomas Holcomb, wife of the lieutenant general commandant of the Marine Corps, was the carrier's sponsor. She was attended by Mrs. A.R. Randall, wife of the colonel commanding the Marine barracks at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

Honored guest at the launching was a future member of her crew. He is Harold J. Fox, 44, who, as a second class quartermaster on the destroyer Wickes, convoyed Marines to France in the last war. His destroyer made 26 round trips and never lost a transport. Between World War I and Pearl Harbor he was an auto salesman.

Other guests included Lieut. Gen. Holcomb, one of the heroes of Belleau Wood; Rear Admiral R. W. Ryden, Navy supervisor of shipbuilding for the Camden area, and Mrs. Ryden; Rear Admiral Thomas Richey, of the Norfolk Navy Yard.

The cargo ship William Lester, built for the U.S. Maritime Commission, went down the ways at the Penn-Jersey Shipyard this afternoon. At 1:25 p.m., the hour when Japan struck at Pearl Harbor, all work ceased for two minutes in memory of the men who died in the attack.

The launching at the Mathis Shipyard, Saturday, saw the minesweeper Swift glide into the Delaware, sponsored by Mrs. Joseph E. Sheedy, wife of the company's president.

Two $3,000,000 oil tankers were launched today at the yards of the Sun Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., Chester.

The SS Newtown slid down the ways after its christening by Mrs. Susan H. McLachlan, Chester, who husband works in the shipyard's drafting department. Ten minutes later the SS Vincennes was launched. It was sponsored by Mrs. Alice V. Nelson, Chester, who husband is an assistant foreman.

At the Kearny shipyard the destroyer Sigsbee was launched today. The warship is named for the commanding officer of the battleship Maine, sunk in Havana harbor on Feb. 15, 1898, starting the Spanish-American War.

The sponsor was Mrs. Anton O. Fischer, of Woodstock, N.Y., daughter of the late Rear Admiral Charles Dwight Sigsbee.

The 25,000-ton carrier Bunker Hill, sister ship to the new Lexington, slid down the ways at the Fore River Ship Yards, Mass., sponsored by Mrs. Donald S. Boynton, Chicago, wife of a Great Lakes shipping executive.

The destroyer Thatcher was launched at the Bath Iron Works in Maine, christened by Charlotte L. Hyde of Hollywood, Calif. Miss Hyde is the great-great-grandniece of Rear Admiral Henry Knox Thatcher for whom the vessel was named.

The Charlestown Navy Yard launched three ships - two escort vessels and a "special" ship. The escort craft were completed in 52 days, three weeks ahead of schedule.

A fifth launching took place at Camden, Me., when a coastal transport was put into the water.

Tampa's answer to the Pearl Harbor attack was the launching of seven warships and the commissioning of a Navy recruiting station.

Six minesweepers and a destroyer tender slid down the ways at the Tampa Shipbuilding Co. in a daylong program. The public was permitted to look on for the first time while the nation is at war.

Mrs. Elizabeth D. Kauffman, wife of Rear Admiral J.L. Kauffman, "sub busting" commander of the Gulf Sea frontier and commandant of the Seventh Naval District, will participate in the climaxing event of the Seventh Naval District, participated in the climaxing event of the day when she sponsored the launching of the U.S.S. Piedmont, destroyer tender, the largest, fastest and heaviest ship ever launched in the Gulf of Mexico.

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