Climb aboard a floating piece of history with this maritime museum that was once one of the most powerful ships in the world.
The USS Iowa is a unique floating museum dedicated to the maritime history of the United States. The USS Iowa itself was one of the world’s most formidable vessels when it was an active ship, before it was decommissioned by the US Navy after five decades of distinguished service. Today it serves as one of the United States’ most popular and distinctive naval museums, in its permanent position on the San Pedro waterfront.
This 270-metre long vessel is almost the length of three football fields, and features the largest guns that have ever been mounted on a seafaring United States vessel. The USS Iowa had a proud military history during its time as part of the US navy, seeing service in both the Korean and Second World wars, earning a total of eleven battle stars. The USS Iowa was also once used for a presidential journey, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt used the Iowa to travel across the Atlantic Ocean to engage in a wartime summit with Winston Churchill and Josef Stalin. The bathtub that was specially installed for this historically noteworthy journey remains intact, and can be viewed at close quarters as part of a tour of the ship.
Seven of the USS Iowa’s 19 decks are available for general public access. Some heavy artillery can be viewed by visitors, so giving an idea of the fire power of this ship. You can get a more distinct impression by watching archive footage in the digital theatre on board. While watching, visitors can stand on a restoration of the vessel’s original bridge and experience a recreation of the American landings at Okinawa, Japan in 1945, during which the USS Iowa played a significant role.
As your tour of this warship-cum-museum continues, you pass by missile decks, and have the opportunity to look at the Captain’s cabins, the scene of many a foreign dignitary receiving American hospitality, along with the mass deck area, which was the place where sailors received their daily meals. Finally, once you’ve negotiated the incredible labyrinth of ladders, you can check out the armoured bridge area, where the most critical combat engagement decisions took place.
The USS Iowa is located 40 kilometres south of downtown Los Angeles, and is open to the public every day apart from Christmas Day and Thanksgiving. You can park for a small fee nearby at First Street and Harbor Boulevard.