USS Iowa (BB-61)

Laid down in June 1940, the first in her class of massive battleships created to counter the Japanese super battleships, USS Iowa launched in August 1942 from the New York Naval Shipyard.

The ship was armed with the biggest guns the US had to offer, 16 inch bores that could throw over a ton a distance of 23 miles with excellent accuracy.

Used in WW2 to support landings and shore operations, she also was fast enough to chase down enemy ships and send them to the bottom of the sea, like the Japanese Cruiser Katori.

The vessel operated all over the South Pacific, and near the end game of the war supported the Okinawa invasion with constant shelling of enemy positions.

She was with the Missouri for the surrender of the Japanese in Tokyo Harbor. In 1949, she participated in the Korean War again serving primarily as a bombardment platform.

The Iowa was part of the regular naval fleet until 1958 when she was put into reserve before being brought back to active service in 1982 to counter the build up of the Soviet naval fleet.

Seven years later, there was a horrible turret accident when many tons of propellant exploded in the second turret. None of the 47 crewmen in the turret survived. The vessel was again put into the reserve fleet in 1990, and in 2010 she was donated (that's a helluva donation, worth millions) to the Port Authority of Los Angeles. After many years of drama involving several historical groups, and she was opened to tours December the following year in Richmond, VA. In 2012, she was towed to San Pedro, California where she resides to this day.

The Arrival

I was working for a company in California, and decided to stay in Los Angeles for the weekend instead of flying home. Since I also had my car out there, I was driving around looking for WW2 sites to see. The Iowa was definitely a good choice, even though it was a bit challenging to navigate to the first time.

I parked in the massive parking lot that is shared by cruise departures. The Iowa is a very large vessel although you don't realize the scale of it until you get closer to it.

The Ship

The self-guided tour starts about a third of the way down the bow, where the castle structures of the ship are above the deck. You enter and are brought through the first cabin where President Roosevelt had berthed on a wartime trip. Although there were obvious upgrades made to accommodate the Commander in Chief, it's not the most luxurious suite.
Presidents meeting room
An ok bed, I'll still take the Ritz.
Then you continue past the commanding officer's quarters and out to the front of the ship.
Those that really know me will laugh at this one
Then you meander through command and control and around the higher levels of the castle where the ship was mainly run from.
I still don't know why they are red lit Highly armored (can you say feet thick?), battle command center of the ship Front kabang
Back kabang Gangway!  Wonder where that term came from... That goes forever
Then you go back into the bowels of the ship where the men worked, slept, ate, and from my navy friends' comments, were generally miserable.
Ah, cozy... Lots of the ship you cannot see
The service sucked, these guys need to look lively Displays of the years
Then it's past the gift shop that is under deck, and to the aft for the finale. The aft of the ship houses some of the upgrades of modern warfare added in the latter years of her service.
Further long-range additions Continued evolution of her role


Awesome piece of WW2 history. You just can't compete with the real deal. Admission is not too expensive, and for a war buff like myself, totally worth it and the 3 hours I spent on her.
From far down the port

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