New areas of Battleship USS Wisconsin now open to public

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The USS Wisconsin served in WWII, Korea and the Persian Gulf War before being retired and is shown here on display in Norfolk. THE CHESAPEAKE staff photo

Nauticus to Open Selected Areas of the Battleship Wisconsin to the Public For the First Time

The USS Wisconsin was brought back to service in 1988 and served in the Gulf War, firing its guns and missiles at Iraq. US Navy Photo

Wardroom with new naval history exhibit will be part of offerings
Norfolk, VANauticus is proud to announce that on Tuesday, October 19, visitors will be able to access  areas of the Battleship Wisconsin that have previously been sealed off in order to protect the ship from saline corrosion.
A new interactive introduction, as well as the Wisconsin’s Wardroom—now featuring the new exhibit For Those Who Have Served in Uniform— will be open to welcome the public and provide an orientation as visitors begin their exciting tour.
Prior to boarding the ship, visitors are invited to see the film, Forward for Freedom, which will be shown in the new Battleship Intro Theater inside Nauticus.  The six-minute film brings the Wisconsin to life through the stories and commentary of those who have supported the ship, especially those who served aboard her .
“Opening up areas of the battleship for public visitation has been a long time coming, and great credit goes to our staff.” said Hank Lynch, Nauticus’ Executive Director.  “We’re excited to be able to finally allow access to select areas of the ship for our visitors coming from every state and abroad.”

The ship’s Wardroom, also known as the officers’ mess or dining area, is located on the main deck of the ship.  During combat operations, the Wardroom would be equipped to serve as a battle station for medical personnel. At the entryway of the wardroom is the new For Those Who Have Served in Uniform exhibit, which pays tribute to the armed forces.
The exhibit is designed as a rotating biographical display focusing on the veterans of America’s conflicts from World War II to today.

Part of the opening exhibit will focus on John W. Warner, Virginia’s U.S. Senator for 30 years, who, as Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee,  worked with others to bring the Wisconsin to its permanent berth in Norfolk.
The Senator enlisted in the Navy in January 1945, during the final year of World War II, and was one of the 16 million men and women who served in that war to secure freedom at home and abroad.
In 1949 during the Korean War, he volunteered for a second tour of active duty as a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Marines and served in Korea between 1951-1952.
In order to assist Nauticus in preserving and interpreting this iconic vessel for future generations, a new “Topside Tour,” featuring six additional areas of the ship’s superstructure, will be available for $20. with discounts for active duty military and Nauticus members.  Because it involves climbing up to four decks and entering small spaces, visitors should be physically fit and wear comfortable walking shoes.
Designed to give visitors an overview of battleship operations, the tour will access not only the Wardroom but also the Captain’s In-port Cabin and Stateroom; the Ship’s Captain’s Galley; Flag Cabin (kept in reserve for any admirals aboard); Combat Engagement Center, which will feature new interpretive and interactive displays; and the Flag Bridge.

The opening of areas aboard the Battleship Wisconsin is part of a long-term strategic plan that will gradually allow access to more below-deck areas over the next three years.  For more information about the Battleship Wisconsin, please call Nauticus at (757) 664-1000.

History of the USS Wisconsin:

USS Wisconsin (BB-64), 1944-____

USS Wisconsin, a 45,000-ton Iowa class battleship built at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Pennsylvania, was commissioned in April 1944. After shakedown in the Caribbean area, she joined the Pacific Fleet in October 1944 and reached the western Pacific combat zone in December. Over the next nine months, Wisconsin took part in operations to capture the Philippines, Iwo Jima and Okinawa and raid the Japanese home islands. During this period, she rode out two typhoons without damage and used her sixteen-inch guns to bombard enemy targets in Okinawa and Japan.

With the coming of peace, Wisconsin undertook routine operations, including a cruise to South America in late 1946 and a visit to Europe in mid-1947. She was placed out of commission in July 1948, but reentered active service in March 1951. She made one Korean War combat tour in November 1951-April 1952, during which she served as flagship of the Seventh Fleet and undertook extensive shelling along the North Korean coast. Wisconsin made another cruise as Seventh Fleet flagship in 1953-54. She also carried midshipmen on several training cruises to European and South American waters during the 1950s and took part in several fleet exercises.

USS Wisconsin was the Navy’s last active battleship when she decommissioned in March 1958.
She remained in reserve for three decades, but recommissioned in October 1988 in the waning days of the Reagan-era naval expansion.
Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in August 1990 brought her to the Persian Gulf area within a few weeks. She was on station there when Operation “Desert Storm” combat operations began in mid-January 1991.
During the brief war that followed, Wisconsin fired missiles at targets in Iraq and used her guns to help force the enemy from Kuwait. With the Mid-east war over, and the end of the Cold War producing major cuts in defense expenditures, USS Wisconsin was decommissioned for a third time in September 1991.


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