Update: Storied USS Iowa's Departure for Southland Delayed by Rough Seas

"We could get out but we'd hit something on the way down," says ship operations director. The world's greatest Naval ship will become a permanent floating museum in San Pedro.

Rough seas expected off the Central California this week have delayed today's planned departure of the historic battleship USS Iowa on her final voyage from the San Francisco Bay to the Port of Los Angeles.

Volunteers planning to refurbish the mighty battleship decided not to risk a towing accident on the trip down the coast, where large swells are expected midweek.

The storied battleship will be converted into a permanent museum in prime waterfront space at the Port of Los Angeles.

Ship operations director Mike Getscher, a Garden Grove resident, said it's not worth any extra risk on the warship's last voyage.

"We could get out but we'd hit something on the way down," he told the Oakland Tribune. "With a tow of this magnitude, you don't take any risks."

Towboats will guide the 45,000-ton veteran of World War II and the Korean War south when the weather forecasts are more kind, he said.

Built in 1940, the Iowa has been called "the world's greatest Naval ship." She hosted more U.S. presidents than any other ship in the Naval Fleet, and saw combat in World War II and the Korean War. In 1989, the Iowa was the scene of one the largest noncombat catastrophes in the military, when an explosion ripped through a gun turret during a training exercise, killing 47 crewmen.

The USS Iowa is the first of four “Iowa Class Battleships” from World War II. It is the last such ship to find a permanent home befitting its momentous past. The other three are the U.S.S. New Jersey (now in Camden, N.J.), U.S.S. Missouri (at Pearl Harbor), and U.S.S. Wisconsin (in Norfolk, VA).

For history and military buffs, this is a great opportunity to walk the decks of the Iowa, the last lead ship of any class of United States battleships.

The Iowa launched in Aug. 27, 1942, was sent to the Marshall Islands to start off her long history. She served in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, in the Philippine Sea, considered by some to be the largest naval battle in history. The Iowa class of battleships are the longest battleships ever made (887 feet), but the Japanese battleship Yamato was the heaviest (it also served in the Battle of Leyte Gulf).

The ship museum plans to offer overnight stays and at least five tours, including tours focusing on life at sea, engineering and armor, and tours of the ship's weapons.

It ferried President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his top military advisers to and from the Tehran Conference in advance of World War II. It later served in the Pacific Fleet, shelling beachheads in the Marshall Islands. The ship was at the battle of Okinawa and was the among the first to enter Tokyo Bay after Japan's surrender.

In 1989, during a training mission off Puerto Rico, the 16-inch gun in Turret No. 2 exploded, killing 47 sailors, and the ship was decommissioned the next year.

The ship museum plans to offer overnight stays and at least five tours, including tours focusing on life at sea, engineering and armor, and tours of the ship's weapons.

The nonprofit Pacifica Battleship Center raised about $9 million to move and restore the ship, including $3 million from the state of Iowa. The group took out another $5 million in loans and raised the rest through donations and pro bono work.

Navy veterans who served on the World War II-era battleship are scheduled to hold a reunion in San Pedro over the Fourth of July holiday in conjunction with the grand opening of the ship's reincarnation as a floating museum.

"As America's leading port, Los Angeles is the ideal home for the leading ship of her class," said Robert Kent, director of the Pacific Battleship Center, which will operate the museum. "This national gateway for global trade will be the new base from which this great ship will begin a new era of public service."

CDC May 21, 2012 at 06:11 PM
I hope they have enough money to finish this large planned museum/exhibit. A lot of historic boat restoration groups have started out strong but never finished. Two good examples are the SS Catalina that was never re-floated and scraped, and the Ralph J. Scott which has been sitting in dry dock right by the new planned Iowa exhibit for YEARS with no great progress. The only thing worse than one expensive unfinished project are two. Also, the close by RMS Queen Mary needs about 200 million of work done on her but Long Beach now has zero money! Ship exhibits are a bad rusty investment in the long run. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Catalina http://www.lafdmuseum.org/fireboat2 http://greaterlongbeach.com/16/03/2012/if-god-wont-save-the-queen-mary-petitioners-hope-the-mayor-will http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.214834728562404.51153.106397092739502&type=3
CDC May 21, 2012 at 06:31 PM
I also forgot the USS Olympia and the SS United States. It is probably better to just save parts of these ships in museums if you don't have the many millions to keep them in full restored condition. Rust never sleeps. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Olympia_%28C-6%29 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_United_States
Friends of the Cruiser Olympia June 01, 2012 at 01:55 PM
Thanks for the props CDC! While we respectfully disagree, we understand your frustration. It won't take much to restore OLYMPIA and we've launched a campaign to raise funds to accomplish her restoration, preservation, and development as a living history museum. Given she is #6 of all US Naval ships and the last remaining of her kind, we feel it's important to maintain her as a part of history. For more info, please visit our site, the Friends of the Cruiser Olympia at http://cruiserolympia.org/site/ Thanks again!


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