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USS Iowa Anchors off L.A. Coast

The USS Iowa will be anchored about six miles off the coast of San Pedro while its hull is cleaned. After that, it will take up permanent residence at Berth 87 at the Port of Los Angeles

The battleship USS Iowa arrived Wednesday off the coast near San Pedro, where it will be converted into a museum, but the ship won't be immediately docking at the Port of Los Angeles.

The 887-foot battleship was towed out of a Northern California port on Saturday for the four-day tug to Los Angeles. The 45,000-ton ship -- nicknamed "The Big Stick" because of its long, slender hull -- will remain anchored about six miles offshore to undergo a routine cleaning of its hull before it is brought into the port.

The ship, now in the possession of nonprofit Pacific Battleship Center, will take up permanent residence at Berth 87, where a grand opening is set for July 7.

In the meantime, the U.S. Coast Guard established a 100-yard safety zone around the ship to prevent anxious boaters from moving in for a closer look. No vessel will be allowed within the safety zone without the permission of the Coast Guard or other law enforcement agency.

Construction of the ship, which took about two years, began in 1940, and the Iowa was the first of four in its class completed. Once commissioned, the Iowa carried President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his top military advisers to Casablanca en route to the 1943 Tehran Conference.

The Iowa would later serve in the Pacific Fleet, shelling beachheads in the Marshall Islands. The ship was at the battle of Okinawa and was 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 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.

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.

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."

Since 2001, the Iowa has been part of the Navy's "Mothball Fleet" in Suisun Bay, northeast of Oakland. All three of its sister ships are also now museums.

James May 30, 2012 at 09:09 PM
Very cool! Rare when we get the big warships around here.

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