Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

July 1, 1984: The battleship Iowa fires a full broadside of nine 16-inch/50 and six 5-inch/38 guns during a target exercise near Vieques Island, Puerto Rico. Note concussion effects on the water surface and 16-inch gun barrels in varying degrees of recoil.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: PHAN J. Alan Elliott / U.S. Navy

August 1942: The Iowa is prepared for launch at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The heavy chains are used to brake the ship entering the water.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: U.S. Navy / National Archives Collection

Aug. 27, 1942: The battleship Iowa at Brooklyn Navy Yard. This photo was published in the Aug. 28, 1942, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Associated Press

Aug. 27, 1942: The Iowa goes down the slips at Brooklyn Navy Yard.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Associated Press

Feb. 22, 1943: Commissioning ceremonies for the battleship Iowa occur on the after deck at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: U.S. Navy / National Archives Collection

1943: Twenty-millimeter gun crew in action on the Iowa's forecastle, probably during her shakedown during first half of 1943.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: U.S. Navy / National Archives Collection

1944: Official U.S. Navy photograph of the Iowa was released on Oct. 26, 1944, was published in the Oct. 27, 1944, L.A. Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: U.S. Navy Photograph

Jan. 24, 1944: The Iowa underway at sea during Marshalls Operations. At left in the distance is the Indiana (BB-58).

PHOTOGRAPH BY: U.S. Navy / National Archives Collection

1944: Underway in the South Pacific, the 16-inch guns of the Iowa fire during a battle drill.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: U.S. NAVY/Associated Press

Oct. 12, 1944: A Catholic chaplain celebrates Mass on the open deck of the battleship Iowa as officers and men stand with heads bowed below covered muzzles of big guns.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Associated Press

Nov. 8, 1944: The Iowa lies at anchor in the Pacific.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Associated Press

Mar. 1945: The battleship USS Iowa in drydock No. 4 at Hunter's Point Naval Shipyard, San Francisco. Damege from a typhoon to one of Iowa's propeller shafts required stateside repairs.T During repairs, the bridge area was enclosed and new search and fire control radar was installed.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Dave Way / Curator / Pacific Battleship Center

Aug. 1945: Sister battleships the USS Iowa, right, and with the USS Missouri sailing together off Japan.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Dave Way/Curator / Pacific Battleship Center

May. 22, 1947: The battleship Iowa moves under the Golden Gate Bridge for National Naval Reserve Week in San Francisco.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Associated Press

July 14, 1951: The Iowa is pushed by tugboats into the San Francisco Navy Yard to begin de-mothing operations for the Korean War. This photo was published in the July 15, 1951, L.A. Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Associated Press

Oct. 17, 1952: A cloud of gunfire smoke hangs over the battleship Iowa after the main battery had pounded Communist coastal defenses during amphibious exercises off Kojo, Korea.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Associated Press

July 3, 1952: Battleship Iowa, on its second tour of combat duty in Korean waters, refuels at sea from the oilier Manatee, as the destroyer Herbert J. Thomas approaches to the left.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Associated Press

May 15, 1952: Back in port after its first combat duty since World War II, the Iowa (BB-61) replenishes the ammunition it hurled at North Korea. A photographer shooting from the super structure captured this overall shot of ammunition loading operations.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Associated Press

June 17, 1952: The nuzzle blast of the battleship Iowa's 16-inch rifle makes a perfect powder puff as her No. 2 turret opens up in support of the United Nations ground forces on Korea's west coast.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Associated Press

1952: The Iowa fires a 16-inch shell toward a North Korean target in mid-1952.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: U.S. Navy / National Archives Collection

Oct. 28, 1952: The battleships Missouri, left, and Iowa, are together again in a fighting zone for the first time since World War II. They ride together from a buoy in a far eastern port during a pause in the fighting against the Communists in Korea. The 16-inch main batteries of the battle wagons have blasted Communist coastal installations and have provided seaborne artillery support for frontline U.N. troops.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Associated Press

Jan. 20, 1952: Crowds tour the U.S.S. Iowa at the start of Long Beach Naval Shipyard weeklong birthday program. This photo was published in the Jan. 21, 1952 Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

June 12, 1957: Anchored at Hampton Roads, Va., the Iowa prepares for the International Naval Review. A HUP helicopter is flying overhead.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: PH1 Castiglia / Naval History & Heritage Command

May 28, 1984: The Iowa sails into Chesapeake Bay at Norfolk, Va., after a training exercise at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Joe Mahoney / United Press International

July 4, 1986: A helicopter carrying President Reagan lands on the fantail of the battleship Iowa in the Hudson River off mid-Manhattan in New York. The president will conduct the International Naval Review from the battleship.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ralph Ginzburg / Associated Press

July 2, 1986: The Iowa, which will carry President Reagan down the Hudson River in an international naval review, arrives in New York Harbor. It will join 22 tall ships and their escorts in a spectacular parade up the Hudson on Independence Day.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Joel Landau / Associated Press

July 4, 1986: President and Mrs. Reagan, dwarfed by the Iowa's 16-inch guns, stand at attention as the national anthem is played during harbor salute to the Statue of Liberty in New York City.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: United Press International

July 5, 1986: The Beach Boys perform just above the big guns of the battleship Iowa in New York Harbor as part of the Fourth of July Liberty celebration weekend.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Frankie Ziths / Associated Press

Dec. 16, 1987: The Iowa fires its 16-inch guns during duty in the Persian Gulf.


April 19, 1989: A fire caused by an explosion in turret No. 2 breaks out on the battleship Iowa. Forty-seven sailors were killed.


April 19, 1989: The crew aboard the Iowa train firehoses on the No. 2 turret after explosion. Forty-seven sailors were killed in the explosion off the coast of Puerto Rico.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Associated Press

Information graphic moved by Associated Press on May 25, 1990, explaining how the 16-inch guns used aboard battleships work.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Associated Press

April 20, 1989: U.S. Navy honor guard coffins during memorial service at Dover Air Force Base for men killed during the turret explosion on the Iowa.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: United Press International

April 20, 1989: Retired Rear Adm. Julian Becton holds a picture of the Iowa at his Wynnewood, Pa., home. A former captain of the battleship, Becton said he believes the explosion that killed 47 sailors could have been caused by burning powder that had not been cleared from a gun barrel.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Bill Cramer / Associated Press

March 27, 2001: The Iowa crosses the Panama Canal at Gaillard Cut near Panama City, Panama. At 108.2 feet wide, the Iowa-class battleships are the largest vessels ever to scrape their way through the 110-foot-wide locks of the canal. They were designed so that they could just fit through the waterway.


March 28, 2001: The Iowa crosses the Panama Canal at Miraflores Lock near Panama City, Panama.


July 18, 2003: The battleship Iowa, bottom left, sits anchored with a fleet of mothballed warships in Suisun Bay, Calif.


April 14, 2012: The Iowa, berthed at Richmond, Ca., sits covered with scaffolding and tarps during maintenance before the move to San Pedro. The poster in foreground shows the battleship when not covered.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Scott Harrison / Los Angeles Times

May 12, 2012: John Wolfinbarger, 88, stands aboard the Iowa and holds up a picture of how the ship looked when he served on it during World War II. He said it sometimes was so hot in the Pacific that he and other sailors chose to sleep on the deck.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

At 3:03 p.m. on May 26, 2012, the 69-year-old battleship Iowa is towed just beyond the Golden Gate Bridge and moves out into the ocean on its final voyage to Southern California and its permanent home as a floating museum on the San Pedro waterfront.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

May 30, 2012: A U.S. Coast Guard boat approaches the Iowa as it arrives off the Southern California coast from the San Francisco Bay.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

June 2, 2012: Members of the Cabrillo Beach Boosters wave as the battleship Iowa enters Los Angeles Harbor through Angels Gate.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times

July 7, 2012 Retired Swiss army officer Fred Alder, 92, is among those lining up in the morning to visit the Iowa on its first day as a floating museum in San Pedro.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

July 7, 2012: A crowd swarms over the battleship Iowa on its opening day as a floating museum.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

July 7, 2012: The line of people visiting the Iowa on its first day as a floating museum on the San Pedro waterfront.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

More galleries on Framework

return to gallery

The battleship Iowa 1942-2012

Pictures in the News | Sept. 19, 2014

Friday's Pictures in the News begins in Southern California, where Youtube sensation iJustine (Justine Ezarik) was first in line oustide the Santa Monica Apple store to get the...   View Post»


Black Friday shopping hunt for deals starts earlier this year

Black Friday shopping hunt for deals starts earlier this year

The annual rush to shop this holiday season got underway in earnest on Thanksgiving as retailers began putting out their Black Friday specials early, and crowds showed up to...   View Post»


Housing the homeless

Housing the homeless

It was seven years ago that SHARE, or the Self-Help and Recovery Exchange, launched its collaborative housing program. It now has a network of more than 1,200 beds in about 200...   View Post»


Unrest across the Middle East and North Africa

Documenting a wave of political unrest across the Middle East and North Africa

As political unrest spread across the Middle East and North Africa, the Los Angeles Times dispatched photojournalists   View Post»

The battleship Iowa 1942-2012

Launched in 1942, commissioned in 1943, the battleship Iowa (BB-61) was the lead ship of a class of four battleships – the largest and last big gun vessels built by the United States. Today, 70 years later, the ship is permanently docked at San Pedro.

In a Sept. 7, 2011, story, Times staff writer Steve Chawkins reported:

The mothballed, mighty Iowa, one of the world’s best-known and most powerful battleships, will be permanently berthed as a tourist attraction in Los Angeles on the San Pedro waterfront, Navy officials announced Tuesday.

The World War II-vintage “Big Stick” could open to visitors as soon as next summer, according to supporters of the years-long effort to bring the ship to a berth at the Port of Los Angeles.

Organizers of the Iowa effort say the ship will create 100 on-board jobs and boost the local economy by about $250 million over 10 years. Looking south to the commercial success of the retired aircraft carrier Midway in San Diego, they anticipate the historic battleship hosting 450,000 visitors a year.

Nearly three football fields long and more than 14 stories high, the Iowa is one of the biggest warships ever built. On its last trip to San Francisco, sailors had to trim its mast by 13 feet to fit under the Golden Gate Bridge.

The Iowa’s record is storied. During World War II, it carried President Franklin D. Roosevelt across the Atlantic to Casablanca en route to a crucial 1943 meeting in Tehran with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Josef Stalin. It is the only U.S. Navy battleship with a bathtub — an amenity installed for Roosevelt, along with an elevator to shuttle him between decks.

The Iowa also was the setting for one of the Navy’s biggest peacetime accidents — a 1989 explosion that killed 47 crew members. The Navy blamed the blast on a sailor allegedly distraught over a failed relationship with another man, but later called it an accident and apologized to the sailor’s family.

The Pacific Battleship Center now owns the ship. After undergoing an overhaul at Richmond, Va., the Iowa was towed to Southern California.

This gallery consists of photos from the Los Angeles Times, U.S. Navy, Associated Press and Pacific Battleship Center archives.

This gallery was updated on July 7.


  1. May 14, 2012, 2:21 pm

    "April 14, 2012: The Iowa, berthed at Richmond, Va., sits covered with scaffolding and tarps during maintenance before the move to San Pedro. The poster in foreground shows the battleship when not covered."

    This is obviously wrong. She's been in Suisun Bay in mothballs, then magically transported to Richmond, VA by April 14, 2012, but in a week, she's going to be towed underneath the Golden Gate bridge to travel to LA.

    Bzzt. Wrong!

    By: Foo
  2. May 14, 2012, 3:31 pm

    The ship is at Richmond, California, near Oakland, not in Virginia. The location has been corrected. Thanks for the catch.

    By: Scott Harrison
  3. May 14, 2012, 6:49 pm

    "Bzzt. Wrong!"

    Yes….., you are…., very wrong. No ones said anything about Virginia.
    You know there are more than just one Richmond right?
    This Richmond is in California, and is north of Oakland and Frisco…., just down river from Suisun bay.
    Actually, if you click this link you can see the mothball fleet with Iowa sitting in the 2nd row last ship on right.
    As a added bonus, in the same row, but all the way to the left is the navy stealth ship "Sea Shadow" in a floating dry dock.

    By: NCC1701D
  4. May 18, 2012, 12:02 pm

    The age of Battleships is not over by a long shot.

    Although it is vulnerable to attack by torpedo boats submarines and aircraft it is still a powerfull big gun platform like no other.

    The US Marines like it for shore defense bombardment support. I agree.

    The shells can be easily and economically made even more accurate be employing gps techology and steering wings.

    As a shore based gun platform protected by shore defenses she is untouchable.

    The firepower from one to four Battleships firing simultaneosly staggers the imagination.

    Case in point:

    Dock the several Battleships close to the Lebnese border in the Israeli town of Nahariya and protect them,

    From that location the Hizbalah / Iran staggering in number network of short and long range missles is Battleship big gun fodder.

    When nueclear Iran is attacked the Hizbalah will fire their arsenal in massive quantities overwhelming any modern defenses

    Israel is installing.

    Only the massive firepower of Battleships will silence the Hizbalah bombardment in short order

    No need to completely overhaul a shore gun platform Battleship. Simply tow it to its battle station.

    Other Battleships can be overhauled providing badly needed jobs to American working men and women.

    The US Marines will get their Battleships as well.

    Battleships can still operate safely as part of a Battleship a Carrier or Littoral Combat Ship group.

  5. May 19, 2012, 11:41 pm

    With modern miniature electronics Gps guidance and maneuver fins the accuracy of the shells can

    be easily and economically improved.

    It would then be possible to lob an armor piercing shell through the ventilation duct of a terrorist fortified

    underground bunker. The threat of a Battleship bombardment would deny them the use of proximate

    shoreside fortifications.

    The time of Battleships has not passed away.

  6. May 20, 2012, 2:12 pm

    This is an outstanding piece of history, I am so glad to see this happen. I have driven by Richmond and seen it anchored out in the bay, and was always saddened by it, what a waste! But now, all who desire can have a chance to see this magnificent ship and honor her service and crews… Ken

  7. September 1, 2012, 1:03 am

    I agree with most of the comments left. I’m honored to live so close to the Missouri too. I know If I were the enemy and saw a large battle ship coming my way I would drop logs and run. The site of the Missouri firing my way is almost enough to cause a heart attack. So we know the Missouri’s in Norfolk, VA. The Iowa is in Richmond, CA. won’t if they ever built one we didn’t know about.

    By: Eric

Add a comment or a question.

If you are under 13 years of age you may read this message board, but you may not participate. Here are the full legal terms you agree to by using this comment form.

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until they've been approved.


Required, will not be published