Battleship Iowa continues trek down California coast
After departing San Francisco with great fanfare Saturday, the biggest U.S. battleship ever built continues to creep closer to its final destination in San Pedro, where the 45,000-ton Iowa is expected to drop anchor Wednesday morning.
Towed by a 7,200-horsepower tugboat, the 69-year-old warship was tugged just west of the Channel Islands Tuesday morning as it neared the end of its four-day voyage from its temporary berth in Richmond, where the ship was renovated for the trip.
So far, it has been smooth sailing for the Iowa, said Bob Rogers, a spokesman for the Pacific Battleship Center, the nonprofit that funded the ship's journey and transformation into a museum.
"We've been tracking it, and there's nothing out of the ordinary," he said.
The warship was originally set to depart San Francisco May 20, but concerns over weather delayed the trip a week. Thousands of people bid the Iowa farewell as it passed under the Golden Gate Bridge Saturday afternoon.
But those hoping to get a glimpse of the 15-story-tall, three-football-field-wide ship as it was tugged south weren't as lucky: Traveling about 50 miles off the coast, the Iowa is too far out to be seen from shore.
It's safer that way, Rogers explained. Officials wanted to keep the Iowa well away from other vessels should storms cut the unmanned warship loose.
"It's better to be super safe," he said.
The Iowa is expected to end its journey about 8 a.m. Wednesday three miles out from the San Pedro harbor, Rogers said. There, crews will scrub the ship's hull to remove any invasive species or contaminants before it is permanently anchored at Berth 87 on June 9.
With nearly 3,000 compartments that include galleys, dental facilities and a machine shop, Rogers said there will be a lot for visitors to see when the Iowa opens as a museum July 7.
"She's just a whole floating city," he said. "You have to see her to really understand."
Built in 1940, the Iowa was used during World War II, the Korean War and again in the 1980s. It also carried President Franklin Roosevelt across the Atlantic to the 1943 Tehran conference.
"She's really one of the U.S. Navy's crown jewels," Rogers said. "There's nothing like them in the world."
— Kate Mather
Photo: The 45,000-ton Iowa is towed underneath the Golden Gate Bridge on Saturday as it began a four-day trip down the California coast. Credit: Don Bartletti/Los Angeles Times