By Richard Zeitlin
Battleships were instrumental in America's rise to world dominance at the end of the 19th century. Two battleships in particular, the "U.S.S. Wisconsin" BB-9 and BB-64, participated in wars and conflicts around the globe, demonstrating America's strength and technological power. The keel of the BB-9 was laid down on the eve of the Spanish-American War, and she sailed with the Great White Fleet on its famous world voyage of 1907-1909. Representing a major advance in American naval technology, the "Wisconsin" both demonstrated American strength in the Pacific and served as the setting for peace talks between Panama and Colombia when the former gained independence in 1903.
Recommissioned during World War I as a training ship, the BB-9 was then decommissioned in 1920. More than twenty years later, on December 7, 1943, the fast battleship "Wisconsin" (BB-64) was launched in response to Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor. The BB-64 served in the Pacific to the end of World War II and again in the Korean War. One of the Iowa- class battleships, the BB-64 was one of the fastest and sleekest on the ocean. In 1988, she was refitted and recommissioned for yet another tour of duty. This is the story of two proud vessels and their role in American naval and diplomatic history.