Sunday, November 11, 2012

Visiting the USS Iowa

Even though my plane was delayed on hour, I still made it to California with enough time to do some wandering.  I decided that I wanted to do some wandering this time since I haven't done much of that the last couple of times I've gone out there.  Ever since they've converted the four Iowa class battleships to museum ships I've wanted to see one of them.

The fact that they are spread out around the country makes it difficult.  The New Jersey is in Trenton, the Missouri is at Pearl Harbor and I believe the Wisconsin is in Norfolk.  At some point I found out that the Iowa is near Long Beach so I decided I would go seek it out.
 The Iowa is the lead ship of a class of four battleships built during World War II.  She was classified as a fast battleship and could go over 32 knots.   This meant she could keep up with the fast carriers.  Had it not been for the advent of the Japanese Yamato class battleships, with 16" guns, this would have been the heaviest armed class out there.  Look at the conning tower, you can see the various awards and stuff she's gotten in her history.  You can also see some of the 5" guns that were a part of her armament.
 Looking down the front of the ship, you can see one of her 16" turrets.  She can send a shell that weighs about the same as a Volkswagen over 20 miles away.  This would make her very effective in shore bombardment.
 The USS Iowa was launched in 1942 and commisioned in 1943.   Her first mission was to counter the German battleship Tirpitz (who I think she would have creamed had she found).   Then she was used to carry President Roosevelt part of the way to the Tehran conference.  In 1944, she was used in the Pacific in part of operations there.  She was also part of the Typhoon that devastated some of the US Fleet.
 This is a shot of the officers wardroom.
 A shot of her 16" turrets from the front.  It's kind of hard to bet a feel for something that big until you actually see it.
 In 1949, she was decomissioned into the US Navy's Reserve Fleet.  She would have stayed there had it not been for the Korean War and she was reactivated in 1951.  She was used fairly extensively in the Korean War.
 One of her 5" guns.  It's amazing how many of these that are on a battleship.  When you consider that most modern ships have one 5" gun, I can't imagine what a battleship would do to one.
 In 1958, she was deactivated again.
 I think this is the Captain's chair on the flying bridge.
 One of the many ships that enter the harbor.  I kind of wanted a shot looking from the battleship.
 Looking down at her forward deck.  Six 16" guns are mounted on the foredeck.
 The captain's chair.
 The pilothouse.  This is behind 8 inches of steel.
 This part of the bridge was not constructed until after the pilothouse was constructed.  I guess this looks better.
 One of the doors leading to the pilothouse.
 Another look at the front deck.
 And looking from another angle.
 Looking at another of the 5" guns.
 I believe these are chaff dispensers.
 The California and Iowa flags.
 One of the Phalanx guns that was added as a result of the modernization in the 80's (more on that a little later).
 One of the gun directors.
 These are the Harpoon missile launchers that were added in the 1980's.  In the 1980's, President Reagan decided that he wanted to build a 600 ship US Navy.  As part of that, he decided to reactivate all four of the Iowa class battleships.  So in 1982, the Iowa was towed to New Orleans where she was modified for the modern Navy.  All of her World War II area anti-aircraft guns were removed, along with two of her 5" gun mounts.  In their place, the Phalanx guns I mentioned above, the Harpoon missiles and Thomahawk Missiles were added.  There were also many upgrades to her electronics.
 Her modifications were completed in 1984.  As such, she could carry 32 Thomahawk Missiles. 
 She could also carry 16 Harpoon missiles, making her a very formidable ship.  Given her armor, she could probably go fairly well against a modern ship.
 Looking at her rear deck area.  Another part of the modernization was changing these to a helicopter deck.
 A dummy 16" shell.
 A full load for a charge.
 One of the powder bags.
 In 2001, she was taken to the boneyard in San Francisco and stricken from the Register in 2006.  In 2012, she was brought to her current location and became a museum ship.
 A closer shot of her battle ribbons and what not.
 Another shot of a 5" gun mount.
 Her anchor.
 A shot of her anchor and number.
 Looking down from the front of her.  I'll have to say she is a very sleek looking ship.
 A closeup of her number.
 And anchor.
 Looking at her from across the parking lot.  You can see her two 16" gun monts on the front and some other things.
 Another shot of her bridge.
 A closeup of her 16" gun mount.
 Another shot of her bridge.
 Afterwards, I went down the river a bit to get this shot.
And one more from the front.  I'll have to admit, it was pretty cool to get on a battleship.  I'm not sure if it was as cool as my tour of the Midway but pretty close.

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