Los Angeles Wins USS Iowa Bid

The ship will be docked at Berth 87 in the Port of Los Angeles and is expected to draw as many as 500,000 tourists


The last surviving battleship in the world without a home has been awarded to Los Angeles.

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced the United States Navy has donated the World War II Battleship USS Iowa to the Pacific Battleship Center, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit on course to turn the ship into a permanent museum and memorial at the Port of Los Angeles.

"Were all thrilled, it's been a year-and-a-half of hard work," said Robert Kent, the Center's President. "It will be unlike any museum ship in the world."

The ship will be docked at Berth 87 in the Port of Los Angeles and is expected to draw as many as 450,000 tourists each year. Local officials believe the Iowa will kick start a revitalization of the area and its attractions.

"Los Angeles is absolutely the right place for this historic battleship, and we are going to take great care of her,'' said Rep. Janice Hahn, whose district includes the port.

Hahn said she worked hard to secure the ship, which she said will generate $250 million of economic activity for the San Pedro economy over the next decade.

"We love the Navy in San Pedro, and we cannot wait to welcome the U.S.S. Iowa to her final home,'' she added.

The Battleship Center raised about $9 million to move and restore the ship, including $3 million from the state of Iowa. The group took out another $5 million in loans and raised the rest through donations and pro bono work.

The Iowa, once dubbed the "Big Stick," is about the length of three football fields, and is the last surviving battleship in the world that has either not been scrapped or turned into a museum.

Kent said the ship will go through an exterior renovation in San Francisco where it's currently mothballed, then be towed to San Pedro where its interior will be converted to a museum.

Plans call for the ship to be opened up in phases.

"Every part of the ship of interest" will eventually be open to the public, Kent said, including the command center, top decks, powder magazine rooms, and the historic wardroom that carried President Franklin Roosevelt across the Atlantic for meetings with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

Formal transfer of the ship's ownership will occur after completion of various environmental and historical requirements, the Navy said.

The ship will be towed to Los Angeles sometime between December and January and could be open to the public by the summer of 2012.

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