USS Iowa becoming Naval Museum

USS Iowa (BB-61) fires her 16-inch/50-caliber guns on 15 August 1984 during a firepower demonstration after her modernization.

USS Iowa (BB-61) fires her 16-inch/50-caliber guns on Aug. 15, 1984, during a firepower demonstration after her modernization.

The USS Iowa, following years of aging in the San Francisco Bay area, the 887-foot-long ship that once carried President Franklin Roosevelt to a World War II summit to meet with Churchill, Stalin and Chiang Kai Shek is coming to life once again as it is being prepared for what is most likely its final voyage.

Sitting in the California Port of Richmond, the 58,000-ton battlewagon has been undergoing restoration for towing this Sunday, May 20, through the Golden Gate, then several hundred miles south to the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro. There it is to be transformed into an interactive naval museum.

On May 1, ownership of the Iowa was officially transferred from the U.S. Navy to the Pacific Battleship Center, the nonprofit organization that has been restoring the boat for its new mission.

For the past decade, the lead ship of her battleship class has been anchored in Suisun Bay. This spring, workers began scrubbing and painting the Iowa‘s exterior, replacing the teak deck and reattaching the mast in preparation for the museum commissioning on July 4.

The fast Iowa-class battleships, ordered by the Navy in 1939 and 1940, could travel at a speed of 33 knots. The Iowa, first commissioned in 1943 and again in 1951 and 1984, saw duty in World War II and the Korean War. It took part in escorting tankers in the Persian Gulf during the Iran-Iraq war before being decommissioned in 1990.

Future plans for the Iowa include an interactive tour experience that will allow the visitor to experience what life at sea was like during active duty. Among the highlights will be viewing the inside of one of the main gun turrets, seeing the 17.5-inch armored conning station on the bridge and viewing Roosevelt’s stateroom.

There will also be tours of secondary weapons, missiles, engineering, armor and special spaces. An ADA accessibility plan calls for an elevator to be installed from the main deck to one below for access to the main exhibit areas.

The museum is scheduled to open on July 7. To learn more, visit pacificbattleship.com.

 

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