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USS Iowa's Port Arrival ETA: After The Holiday

This week's voyage to Southern California has been stalled due to gale force wind forecasts, a risk to the large-scale towing operation.

This being a Navy-friendly region, Southern California residents are expected to descend when the treasured battleship USS Iowa finally arrives from Northern California to local waters. But as of early Thursday, the ETA is for a departure no sooner than Memorial Day Weekend.

The three-to-four day journey is being weighed on a day-to-day basis, and there is still plenty of time for its final trip to the Port of Los Angeles, where it will star as a ship museum by summer.

To follow the ship's progress live, click here. The Facebook page for further updates is here.

Rough seas expected off  Central California this week delayed Monday's planned departure of the historic battleship USS Iowa on her final voyage from the San Francisco Bay to the port town of San Pedro.

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 told the Oakland Tribune that 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 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."

Gerrie Schipske May 25, 2012 at 03:03 PM
tinytom -- don't know where you learned of that urban myth but there have never been plans to sink the Queen Mary. There was talk of it being towed to Asia and refurbished for an international art deco convention and then brought back to LB -- but obviously that never happened. The Queen Mary could be a tremendous historical asset as well as the empty shops at Queens Village. Hopefully in my lifetime.
William E. Cwiklo May 25, 2012 at 03:30 PM
Thank you Gerrie for shedding some light on this story. I agree that the Queen Mary could be a tremendous boom to historical tourism if handled properly. Perhaps you should be the next mayor of Long Beach.
Panglonymous May 25, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Lol, tt... Some say Queen Mary is drug slang for marijuana. ("Queen Mary, she's my friend. Yes I believe I'll go see her again.") Why not house all city approved medical MJ dispensaries on one deck, another deck for temporarily lodging recreational users with minor afflictions and a doctor's note, a long-term care deck accommodating those with more serious pain, a hospice deck on which those sailing into their final sunset might find solace and compassion, and below all else could be housed James Cameron's massive ego, close proximity to which would automatically generate a metaphysical thrill ride called The Abyss.
tinytom May 25, 2012 at 05:10 PM
It was an anonymous commenter with an anonymous source under an article in greaterlongbeach.com. So thanks, it is most probably an urban myth. But my imagination ran with it after seeing the movie Battleship and seeing many similarities.
Dale Lynn McKinnon January 10, 2013 at 08:28 PM
In February,1952 I came aboard The USS Iowa in Long Beach fresh out of boot camp. Long Beach was our home port and had been since her recommissioning in August 1951. Long Beach remained our home port until we joined the Korean War in April 1952. In a way Long beach was an unusual home port. We were anchored out about three miles from land and there were no other ships around. Long Beach was a small town in those days and the people of Long Beach treated us well. The Pike was in its heyday and that is where we spent our liberties. When we returned from Korea in November 1952 our ships band struck up the tune "California Here I come" and it was a welcome song for the entire crew. I will ever be grateful to Long Beach for her generosity to the crew of the Iowa. Dale McKinnon, Timber, Oregon

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