Terry Coyle, The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa –
The USS Iowa has left San Francisco and is on its way to its new home in southern California.
The battleship was surrounded by pleasure boats and other vessels Saturday as it made its way through San Francisco Bay.
The 887-foot long, 58,000-ton battlewagon is being towed to the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro, where it will be transformed into an interactive naval museum.
The Iowa was scheduled to leave last Sunday but was delayed because of a storm system. As it turned out, its departure came on the same day as weekend celebrations were under way marking the Golden Gate Bridge’s 75th anniversary.
Robert Kent, president of the Pacific Battleship Center, the non-profit organization that has been restoring the ship, said the delay seemed to work out for the better.
“We know that the delay was for a reason, and what better day to leave than this beautiful Saturday, with the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge occurring at the same time,” Kent told the station. “It couldn’t be better.”
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.
The ship once carried President Franklin Roosevelt to a World War II summit to meet with Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin and Chiang Kai Shek.
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 that a crew member caused the explosion as a result of a failed relationship with a male crew member. A follow-up investigation found the explosion was most likely the result of human error.
The ownership of the ship was transferred this month from the U.S. Navy to the Pacific Battleship Center.