What a difference a day makes! Yesterday, I did a self tour of a World War 2
merchant ship with about 7 or 8 souls aboard and today I did the same thing
aboard the Iowa with hundreds of people everywhere.
Looking from the fantail forward; note the air conditioning units setup for the gift shop which is below deck.
There were people all over. Most of my photographs have people in them.
But it could have been worse. Opening day, the 7th, I heard that it took 5 hours to complete the tour of this huge battleship.
The ship is not anywhere near ready for a full showing. There is no entry to the
engine room or the gun turrets at this time due to asbestos issues, per a tour
guide. But those things are in the works as I write this. Below is a billboard
that is self explanatory.
Currently you can walk through the enlisted men’s mess on the way to the gift shop. The gift shop was doing a booming
business with lots of people buying things from books to baseball style caps with the ship’s number on them.
A view from the port side of the 2 front gun turrets. Note the plywood sheeting on the deck. The teak deck(douglas fir
in some places) is going to be restored gradually I heard. It is in poor condition visually in quite a few places with
raised and uneven spots also, so watch your step. It is in better shape up on the superstructure.
Interesting fact sheets about the 16 inch guns. Below is a 1955 U.S.Navy training film which takes you inside one.
The business end of the 50 caliber guns- see the deck here- one day this will all be restored to its former glory. By the
way, there is a photo in one of the areas showing the row of sailors scrubbing the deck in the old days with the pumice stones. Fyi, the purpose of the wooden deck was to provide shock absorption from the enemy’s shell impacts.
Plaques inside the Captain’s Stateroom. When these presidents were aboard, the Captain got bumped from his
quarters. Being that it is considered the highest honor to host the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, I am sure
that he wouldn’t mind the temporary “eviction.”
God bless Franklin Delano Roosevelt. I wish we had someone like him in the White House today. He suffered greatly
with polio and that affliction opened his eyes and heart to the suffering around him in this country during the Great
Depression. And what a backup cast he had. To think that they all at one time sat in this Stateroom and laid plans
which led to the victory over fascism. This is like catnip to an amateur historian like myself.
And now we arrive at the bridge. This is definitely not a destroyer’s bridge. Check out the helm(wheel removed)
and the engine order telegraph. Unlike when I was the helmsman, I doubt very much that the officer in charge ever
had to give the order, “helmsman, mind your helm.” You can’t see anything, note the view port cut into the thick armor
If you would like to see the weapon in action, please watch the video below. It is impressive.
This was certainly an interesting experience. Here are a few observations that
might help you if you decide to visit the ship. First this is not for families with small children. You will be going up and down narrow stairways and you can not do this safely cradling an infant or small child. Also if you have difficulties
with stairs, this is not the attraction for you. In other words, if you use a walker or a cane, you may get hurt. The hatches usually require a step up, you have to
be careful or you may hit the steel deck, fast. There are plans to add an elevator for wheelchairs later but some areas will only be accessed via virtual
tours for those in wheelchairs- since this ship is still part of the emergency fleet,
no cutting is allowed to be done to the frame, it is just the way it is.
This battleship had a crew count, including officers, of around 1,900 men. It was one of the most fearsome and awe inspiring weapon delivery devices ever
built and put to sea. It was extremely interesting to me but it also was a physical challenge as well. When I finished climbing up and down these ladders and walking fore to aft, then walked back to Ports o’ Call where I left
the Morongomobile to avoid the $12 parking fee, my feet knew that they had a workout.
All that said, I am going back for another round soon. The next time I will take the Nikon Coolpix P510. Perhaps I will even go with a real photographer along.
We will see. I hope that you enjoyed this trip report.
Folks I almost forgot to tell you. For a similar virtual tour of the S.S.Lane Victory
that I visited yesterday, please click here.