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USS IOWA – The Battleship of Presidents

USS IOWA at Port of L.A. Berth 87
USS IOWA at Port of L.A. Berth 87


The Pacific Battleship Center is honored and privileged to be entrusted by the United States Navy to bring USS IOWA (BB 61) back to life! Our mission is simple: Honor the world’s best and last available battleship and those who served aboard her for the educational benefits of those who visit it.

USS IOWA (BB 61) springs from a distinguished line of namesakes. The first IOWA, a 3,200-ton gunboat, dates back to 1864. The second, an 11,000 tonner, fired the first shot at Santiago Bay in the Spanish-American War and took the Spanish Admiral prisoner. Construction of the third IOWA was canceled under the terms of the Washington Treaty. The present IOWA was conceived as the first of the 45,000-ton class of battleships on the drawing boards of the nation's marine and naval architects in the late 1930s.

The famed battleship, USS IOWA, was ordered on July 1, 1939, commissioned on Feb. 22, 1943, and served our country for almost 50 years. She was designated the "World's Greatest Naval Ship" because of her big guns, heavy armor, fast speed, longevity and modernization flexibility, which allowed her to keep pace with technology.

Also known as the Battleship of Presidents, USS IOWA was outfitted in WWII to be the flagship that carried President Franklin Roosevelt across the Atlantic in 1943 for meetings with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin. A bathtub was installed on the IOWA as a convenience for President Roosevelt, making it the only U.S. Navy warship with a bathtub built for a president.

USS IOWA also was re-commissioned in 1984 by Vice President George H.W. Bush who would later be the USS IOWA's Commander in Chief from 1989 until she was decommissioned in 1990. In addition, the USS IOWA was the flagship for President Ronald Reagan for our nation's Celebration of Liberty in New York City on July 4, 1986.

On April 19, 1989, USS IOWA was conducting a firing exercise approximately 260 nautical miles northeast of Puerto Rico when 47 sailors were killed in an explosion in the Turret 2 Gun Room. This tragedy remains the largest post-World War II peacetime loss of life in U.S. Navy history. The USS IOWA was decommissioned for the third time in October 1990.

The Iowa Class battleships participated in every conflict including and since World War II up to and including the first Gulf War in 1991. The Navy and Marines aboard USS IOWA were among the last "Battleship Sailors" and the battleship now takes its place among other famous ships. The American technological advances in naval ship design truly made the Iowa Class battleships the most powerful ships in the world for its time.

USS IOWA earned nine battle stars for World War II service and two for Korean War service. The ship also was awarded the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, the Navy Occupation Service Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal and was four-time recipient of the coveted Navy “E” Ribbon.

The USS IOWA can be found at Berth 87, close to Ports O' Call Village
The USS IOWA can be found at Berth 87, close to Ports O' Call Village

USS IOWA Statistics

Namesake: The State of Iowa
Ordered: July 1, 1939
Builder: New York Naval Yard
Laid down: June 27, 1940
Launched: August 27, 1942
Commissioned: February 22, 1943
Decommissioned: October 26, 1990
Motto: "Our Liberties We Prize, Our Rights We Will Maintain"
Original Nickname: The Big Stick, which referred to President Teddy Roosevelt’s advice: "Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far."
Additional Nickname: Battleship of Presidents
Standard Displacement: 45,000 tons
Length: 887 ft 3 in (270.43 m)
Beam: 108 ft 2 in (32.97 m)
Draft: 37 ft 2 in (11.33 m)
Speed: 33 kn (38 mph; 61 km/h)
World War II Complement: 151 officers, 2637 enlisted
Bulkheads: 11.3 in (287.0 mm)
Barbettes: 11.6 to 17.3 in (294.6 to 439.4 mm)
Turrets: 19.7 in (500 mm)
Decks: 7.5 in (190.50 mm) Aircraft carried: floatplanes, helicopters, UAVs


9 × 16 in (406 mm)/50 cal Mark 7 guns
20 × 5 in (127.0 mm)/38 cal Mark 12 guns
80 × 40 mm/56 cal anti-aircraft guns
49 × 20 mm/70 cal anti-aircraft cannons

9 × 16 in (406 mm)/50 cal Mark 7 guns
12 × 5 in (127.0 mm)/38 cal Mark 12 guns
32 × BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles
16 × RGM-84 Harpoon Anti-Ship missiles
4 × 20 mm/76 cal Phalanx CIWS
Armor: Belt: 12.1 in (307.3 mm)

USS IOWA Timeline

June 27, 1940: Laid down by New York Naval Shipyard

Aug. 27, 1942: Launched

Feb. 22, 1943: Commissioned

Nov. 13, 1943: Carried President Franklin D. Roosevelt across the Atlantic to meet with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin at the Tehran Conference, where the three leaders decided to open a second front against Nazi Germany

Jan. 23, 1944: Engaged in first Pacific campaign in support of carrier air strikes against Kwajalein and Eniwetok Atolls.

Feb. 16, 1944: Attacked naval base at Truk in the Caroline Islands

April 15, 1945: Relieved USS NEW JERSEY off of Okinawa, Japan

July 15, 1945: USS IOWA, MISSOURI and WISCONSIN attacked Muroran on Hoakkaido

Aug. 29, 1945: IOWA and MISSOURI enter Tokyo Bay for the formal signing of the Japanese surrender

March 24, 1949: First decommissioning

Aug. 25, 1951: First recommissioning

April 9, 1952: Joined bomb line off coast of Korea

May 25, 1952: Destroyed Chongjin’s industrial center (48 miles from the Russian border)

Aug. 20, 1952: Helped Destroyer Thompson escape to safe waters

June 1954: Training exercise with all four IOWA class battleships off of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

Feb. 24, 1958: Second decommissioning

April 28, 1984: Second recommissioning

Aug. 12, 1984: Provided medical and dental assistance in Guatemala

Feb. 1985: Provided humanitarian support for Costa Rica and Honduras

Aug. 22, 1985: Awarded Brattenberg Cup as best ship in the Atlantic Fleet for 1984

July 4, 1986: Carried President Ronald Reagan on the Hudson River for the nation’s Celebration of Liberty in New York City

April 19, 1989: Forty-seven sailors were killed in an explosion in Turret #2

Oct. 26, 1990: Third decommissioning

March 8, 2001: Begins journey from the East Coast to California via the Panama Canal

April 21, 2001: Arrives at the “Mothball Fleet” in Suisun Bay

March 17, 2006: Becomes available for donation by the U.S. Navy

May 26, 2010: Navy accepts Pacific Battleship Center’s Letter of Intent to submit an application for the donation

Sept. 24, 2010: Los Angeles City Council votes 13-0 in support of a resolution to bring the USS IOWA to the Port of Los Angeles

Oct. 7, 2010: Los Angeles Harbor Commissioners indicate support

Nov. 4, 2010: Los Angeles Harbor Commissioners staff recommends Berth 87

Nov. 18, 2010: Los Angeles Harbor Commissioners vote 5-0 in support of a resolution to make Berth 87 the future home of USS IOWA

Nov. 22, 2010: Pacific Battleship Center submits application to the Navy

Sept. 6, 2011: Navy awards IOWA to the Pacific Battleship Center for a museum

Oct. 27, 2011: Leaves “Mothball Fleet” in Suisun Bay and arrives at California’s Port of Richmond for renovation in preparation for tow to Los Angeles

April 19, 2012: Remembrance Ceremony honors 47 sailors who died in the Turret #2 explosion

April 24, 2012: Re-stepping of the 50-foot-tall mast in preparation for tow to Los Angeles

April 30, 2012: U.S. Navy Vice Admiral W. Mark Skinner and Pacific Battleship Center President Robert Kent sign final documents transferring ownership from Navy to PBC

May 26, 2012: Leaves Port of Richmond under tow, crosses San Francisco Bay and passes under the Golden Gate Bridge and heads for Los Angeles

May 30, 2012: Arrives at Los Angeles for hull cleaning at offshore anchorage

June 2, 2012: Completes last voyage on open water and docks at Berth 51-52 in Port of Los Angeles

June 9, 2012: Makes final journey down the main channel to its permanent home at Port of Los Angeles, Berth 87, in San Pedro, Calif.

July 2, 2012: Celebration (by invitation only) for Plankowners who made donations to the nonprofit Pacific Battleship Center by May 20, 2012.

July 2-5, 2012: Reunion of the Veterans Association of the USS Iowa (by invitation only)

July 4, 2012: Independence Day Celebration featuring Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa (by invitation only)

July 7, 2012: Public grand opening of the ship as a floating museum


GPS Coordinates

1 -- USS IOWA at Port of L.A. Berth 87
Decimal Lat: 33.73322013921317 / Lon: -118.27888202667236



Document Information
Source: USS IOWA; magazineUSA.com
Last modified: 20120705
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