The USS Wisconsin celebrated her 80th birthday on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, with colors flying. Photo: City of Norfolk

Battleship Wisconsin’s 80th Birthday Celebrated in Norfolk with Time Capsule

The Battleship Wisconsin is now an octogenarian. In a special ceremony on Tuesday, the U.S. Navy, City of Norfolk, and Nauticus Maritime Science Center commemorated the 80th anniversary of the ship whose service stretched from World War II to the Gulf War.

Several veterans of the USS Wisconsin (BB-64) helped mark the anniversary of her commissioning on April 16, 1944, with Captain Early E. Stone in command. The Wisconsin started her sea life in the Chesapeake Bay, conducting trials and initial training there before going on to deploy in World War II, the Korean War, and the Gulf War. The battleship was used extensively for midshipman training before being decommissioned for good. The Wisconsin and her sister ship, USS Iowa, were removed from the Naval Vessel Register in 2006, making them the last battleships in service in the world.

This photo, shared on Facebook by the Puget Sound Navy Museum, shows USS Wisconsin a few weeks after her 1944 commissioning.

Veterans of the ship participated in the time capsule ceremony by placing select items inside the capsule. Packed up inside the metal box for an OBA, Oxygen Breathing Apparatus, is an American flag, teak from the original deck of the Wisconsin, an antique engraved lighter sold in the ship store and the menu from a celebration for the Wisconsin‘s first birthday, April 16, 1945. The holiday menu included “Cream of Green Split Pea Soup” and “Young Tom Turkey” with cranberries, mashed potatoes and all the fixings. Dessert was apple pie à la mode and “Cigarettes and Cigars” at the end.

USS Wisconsin veterans lay items in the time capsule. Photo: City of Norfolk

The time capsule is set to be opened in 20 years on the USS Wisconsin’s 100th anniversary in April 2044.

Norfolk Mayor Kenneth Alexander of Norfolk, Vice Admiral John Gumbleton of the U.S. Navy, and Stephen Kirkland, President & CEO of Nauticus, all spoke at Tuesday’s ceremony.

The USS Wisconsin (BB-64) stands as a floating history lesson for visitors at the Nauticus maritime discovery center in Norfolk. Museum goers can walk through Wisconsin‘s many decks, compartments and tight spaces to experience what life was like for World War II-era sailors. The mess hall, the tightly stacked bunks, the ship’s post office and the brig are just a few of the areas people can see up close to understand ship life.

On any given day of touring the Wisconsin, you can find former sailors who now volunteer their time on the museum ship. Visit Nauticus to learn more about the ship’s history, take tours or organize an overnight on the battleship.