Daily Archives: March 4, 2012

Close Up with a Battleship – The USS Iowa in Richmond

Yesterday we were able to find the time to drive up to the Port of Richmond (California, not Virginia) to see the USS Iowa, which is currently resting there awaiting a tow down to the Port of Los Angeles where it will become part of the Pacific Battleship Museum.

Google Maps Picture of the Iowa

Previously, since March 2011 to be specific, the Iowa sat tied up in Suisun Bay as part of the US Navy Reserve Fleet, and where I saw it whenever we were headed up to Sacramento, Lake Tahoe, or other points northeast.

Iowa at Suisun Bay, still in Google Maps

It was actually tough to get a measure of how big the Iowa was out at Suisun Bay since the cargo vessels it was tied up with are pretty big themselves.  But now we had a chance to set foot on the deck of the ship.

Unfortunately, years of sitting in the bay with little in the way of maintenance takes a toll.  Part of the work to be done is just to scrape off the rust and get things cleaned up.  So while we were allowed aboard the ship, we could only walk around the two forward 16″ (410mm) gun turrets.

Turrets 1 and 2

16" Guns with me for scale

A lot of the rest of the deck looked like this.

Rust never sleeps

Part of the problem, as it was explained to us, was that teak, the traditional wood used for the deck surface, and which holds up well in salt water conditions, was unavailable at some point, and so pine was substituted.  Pine, it seems, rots and lets the water through.  So there is a lot of scraping and painting to be done on the deck.

We were also kept about 100 feet back from the ship along the dock, by a chain link fence, thwarting close-up pictures, while buildings across the parking lot kept us from getting the whole ship in a single shot.  Still, we walked around and took pictures of the ship and some of the display that was setup in a warehouse.  As always, you can click on the pictures for the full size version.

5 inch mount

Me for scale against some hatches

Harpoon and Tomahawk Missile launchers

Turret three

16 inch shell and powder bags

Powder bags again

Harpoon missile

Iowa profile dockside

The USS Iowa tours in Richmond will last through the end of April.  There is no charge to visit the ship, but they are asking for donations to help fund the refurbishment.

Addendum: From the comments, an interesting story about some people sneaking into the mothball fleet at Suisun Bay. Includes a picture of the Iowa.