Los Angeles News

USS Iowa battleship arrives off San Pedro coast

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The historic USS Iowa battleship arrived off the coast of San Pedro on Wednesday morning.

Crews were cleaning the decommissioned vessel as it pulled near San Pedro. The ship will stay a few miles off the coast for a few days before docking at its permanent home. The ship is slated to open to the public July 7 after fully transforming into a floating museum.

The decommissioned ship left San Francisco on Saturday after being refurbished there. The ship is 887 feet long - the size of three football fields - and weighs 58,000 tons. It saw battle during World War II and the Korean War. Former President Franklin D. Roosevelt also traveled on the vessel.

The Iowa is now the property of the Pacific Battleship Center, which spent two years and $7 million to buy and rehabilitate the ship. Officials expected the ship to be a fantastic draw for tourists and history buffs.

"This is a huge draw, tourists are going to be attracted by the hundreds of thousands, we're just waiting for them to come here to enjoy this great artifact, to learn about the history," said Scott Gray of the San Pedro Convention and Visitors Bureau. "San Pedro is a town of history so this is a crowning achievement, and they have this to go with all of our other attractions

Officials are hoping that people will not only get the chance to tour the ship, but stay on it overnight as well.

"We expect there to be at least 400,000 people coming to the USS Iowa every year, which would be a huge impact on the Port of Los Angeles, the city of Los Angeles and the San Pedro area," said Damian Jones of the Pacific Battleship Center.

For those who served on the decks, seeing the USS Iowa on the seas again was an emotional sight.

"Forty-five months I spent on it. I didn't think I would get emotional, it's just so great," said Dick Blair, who served on the USS Iowa in the early 1950s.

The Coast Guard warned boaters that it was enforcing a 100-yard safety zone around the Iowa.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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