On a cold and rainy 18th of November, we bundled up and met with our SoCal Smarties group for a tour of the Battleship USS Iowa that is now permanently housed in the San Pedro harbor. No meet- up is complete without a Smart Car caravan. We met up with several other members in the Best Buy parking lot in Monrovia and traveled as a group to the battleship. It's always fun to see the looks on other driver's faces when our cars take over a freeway. We get lots of smiles and waves.
As usual, this was a well-organized meet- up and the wonderful staff at the USS Iowa went out of their way to make our visit special. First, they let us park in our own spot, right in front of the ship. Here is the car line-up.
Smarts at the USS Iowa.
Dan took this great panorama shot with the app on his IPhone.
We made the mistake of not ordering our tickets through the group and had to wait in line at the box-office. The staff at the Iowa still gave us a discount for being part of the group, which was completely unexpected and very nice. Although, we learned our lesson, if you know that your going, just make the online deadlines for group payment and take care of it. It's a hassle to deal with those details on the day of the event.
Our group had its own guide, who was fantastic. He gave us lots of information and anecdotes. He answered all of our questions and even though the ship was crowded, never rushed us through any section. I can't imagine trying to tour the ship without a guide.
A tip for visitors would be to get a guide and arrive at opening. The tour of the ship only goes one direction. It's sort of like playing mini-golf, if you're stuck behind slow people, there is no way around it. Get there early, so that you can be the visitor setting the pace!
My favorite part of the tour was the captain's quarters, which also played host to three presidents. The USS Iowa has played host to more presidents and first ladies than any other American Battleship.
The presidents that have visited the USS Iowa.
This is the captains lounge and meeting area, definitely more plush than any other part of the ship. out in the FDR room.
Here is where the captain sleeps and conducts his business. Captain's bed.
The captains bathroom.
Outside of the captains quarters, we encountered a long, creepy hallway that led to the crews quarters.
Another highlight was a tour of the ship's bridge. We were told that NOBODY sits in the captain's chair, except the captain...and our tour guide's grandson.
The giant steering wheel is in a room protected behind many inches of thick steel.
The entire place is overrun with cables and we found out that it still looks like this in modern battleships.
A visitor to the USS Iowa, needs to be able to climb a lot of ladders. It's not a place for the mobility challenged. Also, make sure to wear sturdy shoes. I had on a good pair of boots, but really sneakers with good gripping soles would have been an ideal choice as some of the steps were slick from rain. A lot of climbing, means great views.
Great view made possible from lots of climbing!
Naturally, my trip report would not be complete without a picture of signage.
Our tour guide made many mentions of the loud noise admitted from the massive weapons on the ship.The USS Iowa is a must see for History buffs and is a great addition to Los Angeles. A big thanks to everyone at the Iowa and to the SoCal Smarties who made this happen - Victor, Bob and Patti. Also, thanks to Sharon who helped us out when we made the mistake of not bringing enough cash to the event. FYI- The café in the Iowa is cash only! And thanks to Jon and Debbie for the best brownies ever! The SoCal Smarties are a great group of people and we had fun catching up with everyone.