Role of Iowa class Battleships in Operation Desert Storm

What is The Role of Iowa Class Battleships in Operation Desert Storm

Different types of weapons systems have come to represent specific historical conflicts. For example, the smoothbore musket is an icon of the Revolutionary War for the American people, while the rifled musket represents the Civil War. Mustard gas was a defining weapon of World War I, whereas the P-51 Mustang and the B-17 Flying Fortress were the symbols of World War II.

During the Cold War, intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) were the main weapons, and napalm was a significant weapon used during the Vietnam War. Operation Desert Storm is commonly associated with M1 Abrams tanks, Tomahawk missiles, and Apache helicopters dominating the battlefield rather than battleships.

During Operation Desert Storm, two battleships created history by being the last ones used by the United States in combat. These battleships were deployed in the Persian Gulf, where they showcased their immense firepower, symbolizing the end of an era of naval warfare.

Battleship’s last combat mission in Desert Storm

Role of Iowa class Battleships in Operation Desert Storm
USS Missouri

During a historic deployment, the Iowa-class battleships USS Missouri (BB-63) and USS Wisconsin (BB-64), which were originally commissioned during World War II and subsequently deactivated, were reactivated and actively participated. They were brought back into service as part of a defensive strategy against Soviet expansion rather than due to a whim of fate.

The reactivation of these massive naval vessels was a direct result of US defense policy during the 1980s, particularly under the Ronald Reagan administration, which aimed to increase US naval forces against the Soviet Union significantly. In his quest to create a fleet of 600 ships, the easiest solution was to revive the decommissioned units of the fleet.

The reactivation of the battleships Missouri and Wisconsin was a challenging task that required extensive modernization to ensure their functionality and relevance in the contemporary world. This was a time when popular figures such as Madonna, Ozzy Osbourne, and Sylvester Stallone dominated the scene.

They had to be modernized to make old World War II relics useful once again. This was done by adapting them to new tactics and technologies, which enabled them to play a crucial role in the liberation of Kuwait.

Resurgence of the Iowa-class battleship in Operation Desert Storm

Role of Iowa class Battleships in Operation Desert Storm

In August of 1990, Saddam Hussein attacked Kuwait, which led President George H.W. Bush to send troops and naval forces to Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf to help defend Kuwait. This was the beginning of the US military presence in Saudi Arabia. Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda used this presence as motivation to attack US interests. The Missouri and Wisconsin battleships were among the naval forces that were sent and were ready for action.

During the Desert Storm in January 1991, the USS Missouri engaged in combat by carrying out bombing operations against an Iraqi command and control bunker near the Saudi border. This event marked Missouri’s return to combat after her participation in the Korean War in March 1953.

In February 1991, the USS Wisconsin was deployed for combat use for the first time since March 1952. During its deployment, it launched precision strikes from a distance of 19 miles, destroying an Iraqi artillery battery in southern Kuwait. This successful operation showcased the battleship’s long-range force projection capability.

Although Iraqi forces posed no significant threat to American naval vessels, and the Navy played a secondary role to the Army and Air Force during the conflict, the Iowa-class battleships proved their worth.

They recovered from inactivity, modernized, and successfully deployed in a contemporary theater of operations, where they fulfilled their mission admirably. This deployment not only reflects the flexibility and adaptability of American military strategy but also the enduring relevance of these giants of the sea in the art of naval warfare.

FAQs

Why were the USS Missouri and USS Wisconsin deployed during Operation Desert Storm?

The battleships were deployed as part of the US military response to Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in August 1990. President George H.W. Bush sent troops and naval forces to Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf to help defend Kuwait, marking the beginning of the US military presence in the region.

What was the significance of reactivating the Iowa-class battleships for Operation Desert Storm?

Reactivating the USS Missouri and USS Wisconsin represented a strategic move to bolster US naval forces against Soviet expansion during the Cold War era. This decision was part of the Reagan administration’s efforts to increase the US Navy’s strength, aiming for a fleet of 600 ships.

How did the Iowa-class battleships contribute to Operation Desert Storm?

During the conflict, the battleships carried out combat operations, showcasing their firepower and modernized capabilities. The USS Missouri engaged in bombing operations against an Iraqi command and control bunker near the Saudi border, while the USS Wisconsin launched precision strikes, destroying an Iraqi artillery battery in southern Kuwait from a distance of 19 miles.

What challenges did the reactivation of the battleships Missouri and Wisconsin face?

Reactivating the battleships required extensive modernization to adapt them to contemporary tactics and technologies. This process aimed to make the World War II-era vessels relevant and functional in modern warfare scenarios.

How did the involvement of battleships in Operation Desert Storm reflect American military strategy?

Despite Iraqi forces posing no significant threat to naval vessels, the deployment of the Iowa-class battleships highlighted the adaptability and flexibility of American military strategy. The successful use of these battleships demonstrated their enduring relevance in naval warfare.

What were the USS Missouri and Wisconsin’s notable achievements during Operation Desert Storm?

The USS Missouri’s engagement in combat marked its return to combat operations since the Korean War, while the USS Wisconsin demonstrated its long-range force projection capability by launching precision strikes from a distance, effectively neutralizing Iraqi targets in Kuwait.

Did the Iowa-class battleships face any opposition or resistance during Operation Desert Storm?

Iraqi forces did not pose a significant threat to American naval vessels during the conflict. However, the battleships were deployed as part of a broader defensive strategy, with their primary mission being to support coalition forces and contribute to the liberation of Kuwait.

What was the broader historical context surrounding the deployment of battleships during Operation Desert Storm?

The deployment of battleships during Operation Desert Storm occurred against the Cold War’s conclusion and the transition to a new era of warfare characterized by technological advancements and changing geopolitical dynamics.