I always had a soft spot for these Battlewagons. One of the last actions of my ship was to come to her aid in 1989.:
The U.S. Navy, MARAD (United States Maritime Administration) and the crew that mothballed the battleship over the past 22 years did an excellent job and kept the heart and soul of Iowa alive," said Williams."Things are on track and we are following our schedule as planned," he added. "We are trying to make sure nothing is missed as the process is complex."
The fast Iowa-class battleships, ordered by the Navy in 1939 and 1940, could travel at a speed of 33 knots. The Iowa, first commissioned in 1943 and again in 1951 and 1984, saw duty in World War II and the Korean War. It took part in escorting tankers in the Persian Gulf during the Iran-Iraq war before being decommissioned in 1990.
During World War II, when transferred to the Pacific Fleet in 1944, the ship shelled beachheads at Kwajalein and Eniwetok in advance of Allied amphibious landings and screened aircraft carriers operating in the Marshall Islands.
It was one of two ships of its class camouflaged during World War II— and it also was the only one with a bathtub, which was put in for President Roosevelt. The Iowa also served as the Third Fleet flagship, flying Adm. William F. Halsey's flag as it accompanied the Missouri at the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay.
A dark part of the ship's history took place in 1989, when 47 sailors were killed in an explosion in the No. 2 gun turret. After the blast, the Navy alleged a crewmember caused the explosion as a result of a failed relationship with another male crewmember. A follow-up investigation found the explosion was most likely the result of human error.
Most visitors are immediately drawn to the sight and firepower of the Iowa's nine16-inch guns, which could send an armor-piercing shell the weight of a small car 24 miles. When the ship was modernized during the 1980s, it was outfitted with Tomahawk cruise missiles, Harpoon anti-ship missiles and Phalanx gun mounts. It was also one of the first ships outfitted to carry a drone for reconnaissance flights.
Future plans for the Iowa include an interactive tour experience that will allow the visitor to experience what life at sea was like during active duty. Among the highlights will be viewing the inside of one of the main gun turrets, seeing the 17.5-inch armored conning station on the bridge and viewing Roosevelt's stateroom.
There will also be tours of secondary weapons, missiles, engineering, armor and special spaces. An ADA accessibility plan calls for an elevator to be installed from the main deck to one below for access to the main exhibit areas. The museum is scheduled to open on July 7.