Over the June Long Weekend I had the enormous pleasure of spending a day onboard the battleship USS IOWA (BB-61). She's been preserved in San Pedro, south of Los Angeles and is not too far from where another legendary ship (the QUEEN MARY) is also preserved. California is a great place to visit if you're into ships.
I booked myself on a special guided tour, which included the machinery spaces and several 'off limits' areas, lead by a couple of USN veterans who did a superb job and knew everything there was to know about the ship. If you visit her, I thoroughly recommend booking on this. It's called the Full Steam Ahead tour.
IOWA herself is every bit as majestic and awe inspiring as you can imagine. It's hard to comprehend just how huge these magnificent ships are until you've been onboard one, stood on the forecastle and looked back at the massive turrets and the towering superstructure.
I have to say as well that the design of these battleships is a stroke of genius and something you really come to appreciate when walking around. The main machinery spaces, magazines and key C4ISR spaces are all contained within an armoured 'citadel' - with armour plates as much as 12" thick. As a result, she's got the best combat survivability potential of any ship I've ever seen. You also find yourself wondering how, with all of that immense armour and mass, she even floats in the first place. Let alone being capable of speeds as high as 35 knots.
I was also blown away by IOWA's physical condition. Sometimes when you visit these museum ships they can be a little worse for wear, often show their age and are in need of some TLC. Given that IOWA (and WISCONSIN) were both selected to remain on the Naval Vessel Register at the Inactive Ship Facility until 2006, and thus were conserved in a state that would enable return to service if battleship capability was ever needed by the USN, she's in remarkably good condition and very well preserved. The machinery spaces in particular are immaculate and it certainly appears that it wouldn't take much to get her back to sea again....though I wouldn't want to be paying the fuel bill.
This is a ship that is well worth a visit if you're in that part of the world. Do yourself a favour and go.
Because of where she's berthed she's a bit hard to photograph and I didn't take that many cause I was too busy looking at things. But here are a few. Enjoy.
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