To see firsthand the power of the US Navy, a short day trip to Norfolk is worthwhile. You can tour the USS Wisconsin (BB-64), a World War II Iowa Class Battleship for free. A complete tour takes 45-60 minutes. It is quite impressive, so much so that even my two kids were completely taken by it and enjoyed exploring the massive vessel.

History of the battleship

The USS Wisconsin (BB-64), an Iowa-class battleship, was the second ship of the United States Navy named in honor of the 30th state. Her keel was laid down on January 25th, 1941, at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. She was launched on December 7th, 1943, and was sponsored by Mrs. Walter S. Goodland, and commissioned on April 16th, 1944, with Captain Earl E. Stone in command.

After her trials and initial training in the Chesapeake Bay, Wisconsin departed Norfolk, Virginia, on July 7th, 1944, bound for the British West Indies. Following her shakedown, conducted out of Trinidad, the third Iowa-class battleship to join the Fleet returned to her builder’s yard for post-shakedown repairs and alterations. On September 24th, 1944, the Wisconsin sailed for the west coast, transited the Panama Canal, and reported for duty with the Pacific Fleet on October 2nd. The battleship later moved to Hawaiian waters for training exercises and then headed for the Western Caroline Islands. Upon reaching Ulithi on 9 December, she joined Admiral William F. Halsey’s Third Fleet. Wisconsin earned five battle stars for her World War II service and one for the Korean War. The ship also received the Navy Unit Commendation for service during the first Gulf War.

She now rests in Norfolk, VA.

To get the most from your tour and time on the ship, talk to the Navy personnel on deck. All of them are knowledgeable about the ship, and some of them actually served aboard the USS WI and can give you first hand stories of when she was in battle. They are open daily from 10am to 5pm.

More VB History

There are many more historic sites and museums in Virginia Beach to experience. You and the family can have an incredible time learning and enjoying all VB has to offer during your vacation.

Last updated: April 20, 2017