Byline: Taylor Hill
LOS ANGELES — The 887-foot battleship USS Iowa has a date with San Pedro — and it’s May 20.
That is when Pacific Battleship Center, the organization in charge of bringing the famous ship to Southern California, has made arrangements for its voyage to the Port of Los Angeles’ Berth 87.
Exterior painting and preparation work is expected to be completed in coming weeks, as the ship remains docked at a container depot at the Northern California Port of Richmond. The final voyage south is expected to take approximately four days, bringing the last remaining Navy battleship that hasn’t been scrapped — or already turned into a museum or a memorial — to its new home.
Pacific Battleship Center president Robert Kent expects numerous vessels to join in the departure of the battleship from Richmond through the Golden Gate Bridge.
“We plan to anchor USS Iowa approximately 3 miles off Los Angeles to have Iowa’s hull cleaned,” Kent said. “In mid-June, we will move the ship to Berth 87 at the Port of Los Angeles to prepare for the July 4 educational commissioning ceremony.
Pacific Battleship Center will allow the top 200 “Plank Owner” members — individuals who have donated to the nonprofit organization — to ride aboard the ship when it is transported through Los Angeles Harbor’s Main Channel.
“We are thankful for the hospitality shown by the Port of Richmond and surrounding communities,” Kent said. “We owe a debt of gratitude to the amazing contributors, staff and volunteers who have dedicated time and money to bringing the battleship back to life. We look forward to hosting our new friends in San Pedro.”
Refurbishment work will continue through June, with the public grand opening of the ship scheduled for July 7. Certain sections of the battleship will continue to be open for weekend tours while it is in the Port of Richmond, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through April 29.
The Battleship Expo at the Port of Richmond includes a visit on board USS Iowa and access to exhibits that include a short film on the battleship, viewing of the battleship’s 16-inch shells, a Sheridan tank and half-track displayed by the Military Vehicle Foundation and a Blue Angels F-4 Phantom flight simulator from Pacific Coast Air Museum. The Battleship Expo entrance donation is $10 per adult and $5 per child 12 years or older. Children 11 and younger are admitted free.
In September 2011, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced that the Navy donated USS Iowa to Pacific Battleship Center, a gift made possible under the Navy’s ship donation program.