Our mutual blogging friend, Dr. Jim, a volunteer on the USS Iowa (BB-61) hosted a behind-the-scenes tour for me yesterday. Thank you Jim. It was a GREAT EXPERIENCE! There are about 1,000 volunteers that keep the ship running with about 300 of those working as key players. Dr. Jim is one of those essential people–until he leaves for Colorado and makes his CALEXIT.
For those of you who have seen the movie, “Battleship” where the USS Missouri takes on aliens, the USS Iowa could be at sea in her current configuration. The standard start-up time for an Iowa Class Battleship is 24 hours. If there was sufficient crew and fuel, she is capable of getting underway, and has some rounds for her 16″ guns.
The navy won’t repo the Iowa, but the concept of using it offensively does have some fantasy appeal even if there are no space aliens to shoot at with the big guns.
Having Dr. Jim take me in tow and show me what the normal public tour never sees (such as Forward Fire Control) and getting my mitts on the triggers of the 16″ guns, was nothing short of spectacular.
Thanks again, Jim. It was an excellent break from reality. Today, back to reality.


  1. I would love to have gone to sea in one of those BB's. Even more, I would love to experience a full broadside of those 16's. They were mighty weapons, and could be used today, with proper air support. Glad you got to see the 'inside' of the ship. IF you ever want a tour of a fighting lady, and you are in Charleston, let me know and I will give you a tour of the USS Laffey (DD724), sister to my shipe USS Frank E Evans (DD754).

  2. Thank you for the offer. If I'm down there I'll take you up on the offer.

    The Iowa is being well cared for, and is being restored to her former glory. I have more photos that I didn't post up from the bowels of the ship down inside the armor belt and the lower armor spaces. I may throw them up this weekend. The star of the tour was the former fire control room where the triggers for the big guns are. Dr. Jim has forgotten a lot more about this than I know, but the electromechanical analog computer used to aim and fire the guns are nothing short of amazing. And there is "Broadway" down the middle of the Iowa – which is cool and historic.

    My back-stage tour also included ship art, painted on this or that bulkhead or hatch by members of the crew that are part of Iowa's unique history.

    The volunteers who give their blood, sweat, tears and money to help keep the proud old ship in shape are the true heroes here.

  3. You're very welcome!

    She's a fine ship, and we love showing her off.

    You would have enjoyed seeing the Combat Engagement Center, and the "spook rooms"!

  4. Although the outside of the ship was in poor condition from her years of outdoor storage, the inside was in very good condition due to the extensive preservation techniques used by the Navy when she went into lay-up.

    She was sealed up, and extensive dehumidification procedures were used to keep her clean and dry inside. Any areas where the paint had peeled were covered with red lead primer, and extensive monitoring equipment was installed to detect any water intrusion.

    The Iowa was the "least stripped" of the four, and the only one that had 90+% of her 1980's radio gear intact.

    Some of the equipment, like the Harpoon launchers and CWIS were removed, but four of the armored box launchers for the Tomahawks were left, with the other four being replaced with reproductions.

  5. We toured the North Carolina, BB-55, a few years ago. An older class, nevertheless it was astounding to see how 2300 men could live in in a ship 733 feet long. How? Cramped quarters and fighting spaces. A claustrophobic wouldn't survive on a battleship. While we were on the ship a Marine was getting married; the ceremony conducted on the fantail by the catapult launcher.

  6. Uhhh….that's actually a myth. If you look at the amount of mass being "expelled" from the ship, and the velocity imparted to it, it doesn't come anywhere near a larger enough amount of force to move the ship.

    What you're seeing in the photos of a broadside being fired is the shockwave of the muzzle blast moving over the water.

    It's very similar to the stories of the GAU-8 cannon on the A-10 making enough force to make the airplane go "backwards" if they fired it long enough.

  7. You can rent the ship for a wide variety of functions, private or public.

    Before the election, we had candidate Trump come and speak for a private event. Sometime later, the Sanders campaign approached the ship to request a similar venue. They shocked (shocked, I tell you!) to find out they had to pay to rent the facility!

    We get ZERO funds from any state, local, or federal source, and are entirely self-supporting through admission and rental fees, and other donations.

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