Pacific Battleship Center, USS Iowa San Pedro, CA

The USS Iowa seen from San Pedro harbor.

The richness of this destination stems from the unusual story of a President and a meeting in Tehran at the height of World War II. As risky as it now seems, in 1943 President Franklin D. Roosevelt left Washington DC and, in utter secrecy,  steamed across the Atlantic Ocean to attend a pivotal meeting with Churchill and Stalin in Tehran. Incredibly, they avoided German U-boats and Luftwaffe fighters and docked in Algeria some eight days later. FDR completed the final legs to Tehran by airplane. His ship was the USS Iowa.

The Iowa class battleships were our nation’s largest — and last — class of battleships, each as long as three football fields and as tall as a 11-story building. After safely delivering the President to Algeria, the Iowa served in the Pacific,  and later went on to the Korea. She was decommissioned in 1994 and moved to Los Angeles in 2012.

When you visit the Iowa be sure to  walk in the gap between the forward turrets and the superstructure. While they were underway FDR was pushed back and forth through this passage to view his convoy’s destroyer escorts.. The Iowa  is the only Navy ship with a bathtub: FDR like to bath his paralyzed legs.

This a beautifully restored battleship run by a very active group of volunteers who see to it that it doesn’t become a dusty old relic of the sea. (Be  sure to ask a docent about the wayward torpedo that almost sunk her!) There are movie nights, lectures, dances and, of course, tours. Located 40 minutes from the glitter of Beverly Hills, there is plentiful parking and a gift shop on board.

See their web site for the latest tours – they do change.

Hours:   Daily:  10am – 4pm

Visit museum website

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