Launched on August 27, 1942, USS Iowa (BB-61) was the lead ship of her class of battleship and the fourth in the United States Navy to be named in honor of the 29th state. The battleship was towed to her permanent (and hopefully final) home in Los Angeles on June 9, 2012.
On Sunday some friends and I decided to visit the Iowa which now is a museum, telling the stories of World War II, the Korean War and the Cold War.
Our mission, should we decide to accept it, was to travel by public transportation. I left Culver City on the Expo Line train and met up with the six other members of our group in downtown LA. We boarded the Silver Line to the Harbor Gateway Transit Center in Carson to transfer to the San Pedro 450 Metro bus. The trip, including the 20 minute walk from my house to the train station, took me about 2 1/2 hours. For other people it was 3 hours. This is why public transportation in LA is so difficult: the distances are so vast.
In May 2014, the ship was named Number 13 on the list of “Most Popular Things To Do in LA” by TripAdvisor, beating out Universal Studios and the Hollywood Bowl. That’s impressive.
The Iowa is the West Coast’s only battleship museum.
She is the only battleship to be fitted out with a bathtub and an elevator. This was to accommodate President Franklin D. Roosevelt in his wheelchair during his voyage to the Tehran Conference with Churchill and Stalin in 1943.
USS Iowa has been decommissioned and recommissioned several times. The last decommission was in 1990. However, she is on standby to be recommissioned at any time so has to be kept in working order.
The Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro, where the ship is docked, is the largest container port in the US. These are some of the cranes on their day off.
An iddy biddy bullet, otherwise known as a shell. Some could weigh as much as 2,700 lbs (1225 kgs).
Loading bay. I would not want to be one of the crew shoving the shells into place.
The Iowa class of battleships remain the most heavily armed gunships the United States has ever had on the seas.
Don’t know how well you can see in this photo but if you look closely you can see how incredibly long this corridor is.
When you are on the self-guided tour of the ship, docents are posted along the way to tell stories and explain the different areas. These are mostly ex-service men who actually served on the battleships.
One of the gentlemen was a spritely 89 year old. That’s one way to stay young by doing something useful that you can be enthusiastic about.
Two cruise ships were docked in the harbor. Above is the Costa Atlantica. In the right hand photo the ship’s guns are aimed squarely at her hull.
The hardest part of the tour for me was clambering up and down these ladders between decks. The ship seemed to be about a mile high. Every time we reached a new level I thought we had to have reached the top. But no, there was another level, another ladder and it just kept going. This indoor ladder wasn’t too bad but on the exterior ones I was sucking in my fear of heights (and ladders) big time the higher we climbed.
After the tour we walked down to the Ports o’ Call Village and ate lunch at an outdoor restaurant. Boats going by in the channel, the Southern California sun beating down, a plate of calamari and a Samuel Adams beer. And the good company of friends. Life doesn’t get better than that!
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