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Daily Breeze: Battleship Iowa in San Pedro closes in on final approval as national Navy museum site


UPDATED: December 9, 2021 at 12:31 p.m.

The USS Iowa took a significant step forward this week when the House of Representatives voted for the World War II battleship in San Pedro to become the first National Museum of the Surface Navy.

The legislation, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragan, D-San Pedro, now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to be approved this month. It would then go to President Joe Biden for his signature.

Once fully approved, the designation for the battleship will make it the first and only museum in the nation dedicated to the men and women who have served in the surface forces of the U.S. Navy.

The Surface Navy comprises personnel on all Navy vessels that have traveled on the ocean’s surface since the nation’s founding.

A fundraising campaign has been ongoing for the museum, with the effort expected to cost $60 million. The opening date is set for Oct. 13, 2025 — the 250th birthday of the Navy.

Included in the overall plan is moving the historic battleship south to the Southern Pacific Slip, where it would be closer to the new waterfront development, dubbed West Harbor, set to open in 2023.

“This legislation honors the men and women who have served — and continue to serve — in the surface forces of the United States,” Barragan said, “by designating this museum as a monument to their sacrifice.”

The ship, which was brought to the San Pedro waterfront in 2012, is now a visitor attraction and a monument to those who served.

The ship was commissioned in 1943 and was considered the most powerful American warship of its time. It served in the Pacific during World War II, transporting President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the first transatlantic leg of his journey to the 1943 Tehran Conference with other Allied leaders.

The Iowa also was present during the Japanese surrender at Tokyo Bay 76 years ago.

The ship was brought back into service during the Cold War and was active during the Korean War.

Jonathan Williams, CEO and president of the Battleship Iowa Museum, said the designation will raise “the profile of the importance of Surface Navy in trade, commerce and humanitarian assistance at the busiest port complex in the Western Hemisphere.”

The legislation was first introduced by Barragan and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein in September 2020.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to support the museum proposal at that time.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn said the ship had gained a “second life” as a floating museum to teach visitors about the importance of the Navy in the nation’s history.

Hahn supported bringing the ship to San Pedro in 2010 while she was the Los Angeles City Council member representing the 15th District.

The House of Representatives passed the bill Tuesday night, Dec. 7.

For the original story with photos and slide show on the Museum, click here.