USS Iowa

Climb aboard a floating interactive maritime museum that was once one of the most powerful ships in the world.

Mothballed by the US Navy after serving the United States with distinction for more than five decades, this mighty battleship is now permanently moored in LA on the San Pedro waterfront, a floating tribute to a proud military past.

Dubbed the “Big Stick,” this 887-foot (270-meter) long vessel is almost the length of three football fields and is characterized by its massive guns, the biggest ever sent to sea on a US ship. It took at least 77 men to fire the three 16-inch (41-centimeter) diameter weapons housed in each turret.

The USS Iowa is an important part of the naval history of the United States. It saw action in World War II and the Korean War, earning nine battle stars for the former, and two for the latter. It also once ferried President Franklin Delano Roosevelt across the Atlantic to a wartime summit with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Russian Premier Josef Stalin. Indeed, the bathtub that FDR had specially installed for the journey remains, and offers one of the highlights of a ship tour. To date the Iowa is the only US Navy warship with a bathtub built for a president.

Seven of the vessel’s 19 decks are open to the general public. Heavy artillery is on display and visitors can get a feel for the ship’s colossal firepower in the digital theater. Here, you can stand on a facsimile of the bridge and be immersed in a recreation of the American landings at Okinawa, Japan in 1945, where the Iowa played a supporting role.

A tour of this warship museum also passes along the ship’s missile decks, inside the FDR and Captain’s cabins where foreign dignitaries were entertained and through the mess deck area where sailors took their meals. After ascending a maze of ladders, you’ll find yourself inside the armored bridge area, the scene of many pivotal combat decisions.

USS Iowa is located in San Pedro, 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of downtown LA. There is paid parking nearby at First Street and Harbor Boulevard. The Iowa is open every day except for Thanksgiving and Christmas days.

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