The battleship Iowa, scene of a horrific explosion that killed 47 sailors, and the battleship New Jersey, whose home port is Long Beach, top the Navy's "mothball" list in its plans to retire two of four battleships next year, Defense Department officials said Wednesday.
The proposal to mothball two battleships, submitted to President Bush for the fiscal 1991 budget he will present to Congress on Jan. 29, would halve the number of the heavily armored World War II-era ships.
The four battleships were taken out of mothballs and modernized during the Reagan Administration at a cost of $1.7 billion.
It was reported earlier that the Navy has proposed retiring two of the nation's four battleships to save money in fiscal 1991, which begins Oct. 1. But the names of the two targeted for mothballing were not previously known.
The Iowa and the New Jersey are listed by the Navy as "the most likely candidates . . . the top contenders," said a defense official who spoke on condition he not be identified.