Built in 1940, the USS Iowa served our country for over 50 years beginning with World War II, through the Korean Conflict, and into the 1980s to protect shipping lanes in the Persian Gulf.
Now, she makes her final journey from San Francisco to become a museum at the Port of Los Angeles.
The USS Iowa and her sister ships the Missouri, New Jersey, and Wisconsin were the last “ships of the line” like old, sea faring battle ships. (The sister ships are also now museums.)
“Iowa with her heavy armament, and her ordnance, her big guns and heavy armor was designed to go out, seek the enemy out, go toe-to-toe with them, slug it out until one sunk. And I can tell you it wouldn’t be the Iowa,” said Bob Rogers, Northern California Media Consultant, USS Iowa.
The Iowa’s main battery consisted of nine 16” Mark 7 guns capable of firing 2,700 lb. armor-piercing shells 23 miles. Her second battery had 20 five inch Mark 12 guns in twin turrets that could hit targets 14 miles away. And to combat aerial attacks she had 80 40mm anti-aircraft guns and 49 20mm anti-aircraft cannons.
Three football fields long, 20 stories high and weighing more than 45,000 tons, the Iowa is not only big, but also famous as the Battleship of Presidents because it hosted Franklin D. Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
“She carried President Roosevelt to a meeting in Tehran that was with Stalin, Churchill, and Chang Kai-Shek and it was to plan World War II in the second front,” said Rogers.
President Roosevelt’s stateroom was designed to be large enough so he could maneuver his wheelchair. His bathtub was also outfitted with what would be known today as ADA (Americans with Disablities Act) rails.
“It’s the only ship in the Navy with a bathtub,” said Rogers.
President Ronald Reagan boarded the USS Iowa for the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty.
When he was Vice-President, George H.W. Bush was at the re-commissioning ceremony in 1984.
That re-commissioning included a retrofit of the USS Iowa for modern warfare.
“You have a very rare combination of the old world guns and new world technology. Because in the 80s she was outfitted with Tomahawk missiles, Harpoon missiles, and CIWS (pronounced sea-whiz) self-defense systems, and other items so you have a very interesting hybrid,” said Rogers.
On Saturday the battleship will travel across the San Francisco Bay and under the Golden Gate Bridge. The bridge has held special meaning to service personnel, especially for veterans of World War II and the Korean Conflict.
“As you go out you’re out going to an adventure. When you’re coming back, you’re coming home,” said Rogers.
The USS Iowa will have transponders onboard so the public can follow her journey down the coast and live-streaming web cams to see the watch her last adventure. To follow along, click here.
The USS Iowa is expected to open to the public on July 7 at the Port of Los Angeles, Berth 87. For a preview of what will be offered click here.
To watch current and historical videos of the USS Iowa, click here.
The city of San Francisco is honoring the 75th Anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge on Sunday. To read about the festivities, click here.