The Los Angeles Harbor Commission today voted unanimously to create a new home for the historic battleship, the USS IOWA, in a prime location along the LA Waterfront at the Port of Los Angeles.
In separate actions, the Harbor Commission approved the lease agreement and an environmental impact report necessary to bring the World War II battleship to the LA waterfront where it will be converted to an interactive naval museum and a living memorial. The floating museum is scheduled to open to the public July 7 at Berth 87, directly south of the World Cruise Center.
“Los Angeles is thrilled to welcome a national treasure that has served our nation so faithfully for so long,” said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. “It is with great pride that our city, our Port and our community say ‘Welcome Home’ to the USS IOWA.”
“I’m excited to join San Pedro and all of Los Angeles in welcoming the USS IOWA to her new home,” commtendd Congresswoman Janice Hahn. “The IOWA will become an educational tool and attraction for people all over the country, igniting another fuse of job creation and economic opportunity in the South Bay. This is why I and many others worked so hard to bring the USS IOWA to San Pedro.”
“As a lifelong San Pedro resident, I have always felt that with a little vision, strong leadership and tireless dedication, we could transform our waterfront into a thriving, world-class tourist destination,” said Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino. “Today’s action by the Harbor Commission takes us a giant step toward that goal, making the Port of L.A. home to one of the most historically significant naval vessels in history.”
“Today’s action breathes new life into a battleship that protected our nation for half a century,” said Harbor Commission President Cindy Miscikowski. “It marks the new chapter in our ongoing efforts to build a world-class Port by supporting another important Southern California industry, international tourism, while providing a significant bonus of showcasing pride in our nation’s history.”
“The USS IOWA will be a showpiece that adds to the synergy of the L.A. Waterfront, whose growing attractions, restaurants and festivals are revitalizing economic activity in downtown San Pedro and surrounding communities,” said Geraldine Knatz, Executive Director of the Port of Los Angeles. “It is another jewel in the crown of our Port that will contribute to our goal of creating a vibrant, world-class waterfront.”
The Harbor Commission certified the final EIR and approved the terms of the lease that allow the USS IOWA to berth at the Port for the next decade. The agreement includes two five-year renewal options.
“Los Angeles is the ideal home for the leading ship of her class,” said Robert Kent, director of the Pacific Battleship Center, which spearheaded the move and will operate the USS IOWA as a museum. “This national gateway for global trade will be the new base from which this great ship will begin a new era of public service.”
Commissioned in 1943, the namesake of the Iowa class of battleships took part in every major military conflict from World War II until the post-Cold War period when it was decommissioned in 1990. Nicknamed “The Big Stick,” the 887-foot long vessel was seen as the “World’s Greatest Naval Ship” of her era due to her big guns, heavy armor, fast speed, longevity and modern technology.
The USS IOWA was host to more U.S. presidents than any other battleship. Its operations included taking President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to Tehran in 1943 for a secret meeting with Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin. More than four decades later, President Ronald Regan and First Lady Nancy Reagan boarded the USS IOWA to celebrate the restoration and centenary of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor on July 4, 1986.
The USS IOWA is set to leave Richmond -- its temporary home where restoration work began -- on May 20, and it is due to arrive in San Pedro Bay waters May 24. The battleship will receive a warm welcome that includes a rendezvous with the S.S. Lane Victory, a cargo ship from the same era also berthed at the Port of Los Angeles. Initially, the USS IOWA will be anchored outside the breakwater harbor for hull cleaning for two to four days. The USS IOWA will then be towed to a temporary berth in the outer harbor before it is towed to Berth 87, where it will be moored year-round.
The Pacific Battleship Center will offer guided tours and educational programs expected to include overnight stays and youth camps. Subject to additional funding, the attraction may grow to include a two-story landside visitor’s center with additional museum space and expanded educational offerings.