Memorial Day tribute – USS Iowa final voyage this weekend

On this memorial day, I thought it might be appropriate to share this image and story. The USS Iowa made its final voyage from Richmond, CA to San Pedro CA on Saturday, May 26th, sliding under the Golden Gate Bridge for the last time.

A bow view of the battleship USS IOWA (BB-61) firing its Mark 7 16-inch/50-caliber guns off the starboard side during a fire power demonstration. Date 15 August 1984 Image: Wikipedia

Ironically, the Golden Gate Bridge had its 75th anniversary a day later.

USS Iowa (BB-61) fires a full broadside of her nine 16″/50 and six 5″/38 guns during a target exercise near Vieques Island, Puerto Rico (21°N 65°W). Note concussion effects on the water surface, and 16-inch gun barrels in varying degrees of recoil., July 1, 1984 Image: Wikipedia

Full story and more great photos here: USS Iowa final voyage from Richmond, CA

As always, my thanks and respect to our men and women in the military, who have served our country in times of war and peace.

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GeoLurking

During a WASEX ( war ar sea exercise), one of the Nato Players got close enough to receive the signal for a gun engagement from the Iowa. Concidering the size of the vessels… had it been real, it would not have been pretty.
(early 80’s)

PiperPaul

Awesome. No, really…AWESOME.

Truthseeker

Yes, but did they hit the aliens?

At least she won’t be broken up, the fate the Big E got after WWII:

Enterprise entered the New York Naval Shipyard on 18 January 1946 for deactivation, and was decommissioned on 17 February 1947. In 1946, she had been scheduled to be handed over to the state of New York as a permanent memorial, but this plan was suspended in 1949.[13] Subsequent attempts were made at preserving the ship as a museum or memorial, but fund-raising efforts failed to raise enough money to buy the vessel from the Navy, and the “Big E” was sold on 1 July 1958 to the Lipsett Corporation of New York City for scrapping at Kearny, New Jersey. A promise was made to save the distinctive tripod mast for inclusion in the Naval Academy’s new football stadium, but was never fulfilled; instead, a memorial plaque was installed at the base of what is still called “Enterprise Tower.” Scrapping was complete as of May 1960.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Enterprise_(CV-6)#The_end_of_the_.22Big_E.22

“Ironically, the Golden Gate Bridge had its 75th anniversary a day later.”
Did the Iowa miss the target?

In 1989, I saw two battleships, USS Missouri and USS New Jersey, fire simultaneous broadsides in the western Pacific. That came a few minutes after an F-14/Tomcat did a supersonic fly-by just a few hundred from my ship. Awesome is indeed the best word that comes to mind.

EternalOptimist

Very nice photos of Iowa.
my father served on HMS Valiant in WWII. She had eight 15″ guns and he saw a lot of action.
http://t1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQLSlXDKv1bv5OFBpaGltBXkAwJbKHvY80Y3_gn9p2KGypu74hUDBSW3t8
He was shot at by German subs at Norway, bombed by Stukas, took part in the first radar driven night action, bombed by the Italians then finally attacked by Italian human torpedoes in Alexandria harbour.
After that he transferred to HMS Victorious and was stationed in the Pacific, providing cover whilst the damaged US carriers were repaired and refitted. The ship temporarily transferred to the US navy , changing it’s name to USS Robin. In the pacific he was bombed by the Japanese, then finally Kamikazed a few times. He told me that they were put in harms way more than the US carriers, because the British ships had a 6 inch armoured steel deck, as opposed to the US wooden decks.
At the end of the war, as a chief petty officer, he was transferred to a minesweeper. The newly commissioned, pink cheeked captain called him to a meeting as they set out on their first mission
‘Chief petty officer, I want you to put a drill in place, should we strike a mine. I will inspect at first light tomorrow’
‘Are you sure sir ?’
‘Yes. why?’
‘I saw the battleship HMS Barham strike a mine. The first one hundred feet of twelve inch armoured steel just disappeared. Gone. And as we are eighty feet long and made of wood, do you really think it is worthwhile ?’

Alan the Brit

Yeah, she may be old, she may be outgunned by a small frigate these days with the right misslie technology, but what a presense on the water, magnificent, truly magnificent! A terrorist rib boat speeding towards her would be so much rubber under the air blast from those powerful 16″guns, would even have to aim at it! Be very proud USA, very proud indeed.

Reminds me of the Cracked story on the USS William D Porter, which among other crimes launched a torpedo at the Iowa, while the President was on board:-)
“They announced “Fire one!” and the first fake torpedo was fake fired. “Fire two!” and the second fake torpedo was fake fired. “Fire three!” and a swooshing sound was heard. The crew watched in horror as an actual torpedo left the tube and made a beeline for the Iowa and the president of the United States.”
http://www.cracked.com/article_19637_the-5-craziest-war-stories-all-happened-same-ship.html

That is some Broadside.
The Ship moved sideways.
ThAT was Real Awesome!

Laurie

Thanks, Anthony and I join you in thanks to those who gave everything for our freedom and to those who served.

Awesome indeed. I like how the designer tricked Neptune into thinking the ship was going to be skinny all the way back.

Thommo

Love the images. Is the first a painting? Some people do these well.

William Truesdell

I served on her for a few days of my Midshipman cruise to South America, Sailed from Annapolis to Norfolk where I shifted to the USS Northampton CLC 1. During the cruise we had a gunnery exercise and towed a sled. Destroyers fired first and were impressive with splashes all around the sled. Cruisers second and even tigher. Iowa last and fired only one turret. Result- no sled.

Graphite

Talk softly and carry a big stick.
And man, that is some stick.

George V

Nice display of Newton’s third law in that first picture. I am also amazed at the complex design of such a ship in the day when the computing device was a slide rule and the design system was a drafting pen, compass, straightedge, and giant sheets of paper.
George V.

pax

Cool!

kadaka (KD Knoebel)

I came across something I highly recommend reading, the Wikipedia account of the 1989 USS Iowa turret explosion when 47 crewmen perished. It’s long but worth it, well written and thoroughly researched. It is the finest Wikipedia entry I have ever read, whatever that’s worth.
And what it is, is a long and ultimately sordid tale of brass and bureaucrats lying and conspiring, before and after, arguably causing it and not-arguably covering it up. While written in a bland and neutral tone, the details have nevertheless angered me. To summarize my impression, it’s like the “upper management” involved went to the graves of these fine battlefield troops, squatted and dumped, and blamed it on a stray dog. While looking around for any other graves they would have to likewise “honor”.
Our troops deserved better. They deserve better than they get now. Today, in the US, we show our respect for those of the military who have fallen. Let us not forget to extend due respect to all who have served or are now serving our nation honorably. At the absolute least, this is what they are owed.

Jonathan Smith

I am reliably informed that when she fires a broadside USS Iowa drifts up to 16m (50ft in old money) sideways. There is no statistic about these ships that isn’t impressive.
[Not that much. Robt]

greymouser70

If I remember correctly, it was stated that when the Iowa-class battleships fired a full 9 gun broadside the whole moved 30′ from the recoil. That is one large amount of Kinetic Energy!!!!!
[30 inch more likely. Robt]

FredericM

Slide Rule – good. A once seaman assigned to this class battleship in the late 60s denoted what many pictures have displayed – the 16 inch projectile is so large that at the correct angle-and light one can see with their eye the projectile leaving the barrel. This sailor noted most the roll counter to the gun recoil. HE rounds weighted up to 2700 lbs/max range 24 mile. The older USS Alabama of the Dakota class also had the auto mechanical load system-nicely displayed cut away in the Mobil, AL resting site. There is on a highway north of Yuma a displayed menagerie of engineering a purposed small satellite 40/60lb launch gun (for temporary stationary battlefield ) of this 16 inch with a barrel of 119 feet.

Larry Mead

Actually these ships did not move sideways. Even the big guns on Battleships couldnt do that. Too much mass and the water on the other side of the ship made it impossible. At best a slight roll. The first Pic looks like there is a port turn occuring at the time of firing.

wsbriggs

In response to one comment, the first image is not a painting. In a past life, my employer exhibited every year at IITSC in Orlando. One of the corporate products was a 60″ printer (no points for guessing the co.). We’d have a list of Admirals and Generals who came by wanting prints of the Iowa, Missouri, [Wisconsin], M1A1 Abrams, SR-71, B-52, F-22, F-117, B2. All were digital images from photos taken by the respective services. You can imagine the quality of a 600 dpi 60″ print.

TANSTAAFL

Imagine firing a Volkswagen 28 miles.
Great googly moogly!

RACookPE1978

Worthy of note – though the British in the very early 1900’s) – 1902 through 1917 – “thought” they were developing the world’s best computers and analog calculators for their empire-protective battleships and battlecruisers ! – they were WRONG. Dead wrong in how they did the “simple” sciences of gunnery prediction and ballistics predictions – 300 years after Newton.
The early analog computers were “good” for what they did – for example, the analog (gear-driven) “watch-maker” black box for the USS Texas (BB-34) of 1914 era-computers allowed input signals (gear-settings) for latitude (to correct for the Coriolis effect of the earth’s spin on the shell and other ship’s position), temperature of the gun barrel, temperature of the powder, current range, own ship’s course, other ship’s course, own ship’s speed, other ship’s speed, etc … WWII analog computers were similar.
But the British “consensus” scientific development followed the own “favorite sons” and “consensus” experts in the Brit Navy and the Brit establishment (Royal Society – among others) …. So, at Jutland – and many other naval battles [since] WWI, they LOST their battlecruisers and their ships because their computers – their equations and their corrections and their calculators were dead wrong. The Germans outshot them, out sunk them, and out-calculated the Brits… because the Brit “science” was correct in naval gunnery. Politically correct, that is, in the government’s decision of how to fund their naval gunnery computers.
Dead wrong in the practical aiming of the shells over long range – but correct to the Royal Society’s “consensus” of how to the aim guns and pay for the analog computers in their Navy of the day.

Alan Watt

It’s sad to see this ship retired. I don’t believe any US shipyard has the capability to build this hull any more. The main guns are obsolete, but I believe the turrets could be reworked into missle launcher housings, or replaced altogether. What I would do is rip out the oil-fired boilers and reduction turbines and replace them with a LFTR powerplant. A 33 knot hull with 11-17″ of armor plate and unlimited range at full speed that can transit the Panama Canal could be put to a lot of uses.

kadaka (KD Knoebel)

Graphite said on May 28, 2012 at 3:36 am:

Talk softly and carry a big stick.
And man, that is some stick.

And Obama is the current Commander in Chief of the US Armed Forces, and VP Biden promises us that Obama has a big stick.

commieBob

EternalOptimist says:
May 28, 2012 at 1:35 am
Your dad said something like:
‘I saw the battleship HMS Barham strike a mine. The first one hundred feet of twelve inch armoured steel just disappeared. Gone.

Your dad was wrong about the cause. The Barham took three torpedoes and, because she had a lot of improperly stored ammunition, her magazines exploded.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Barham_(04)

Alan Watt

The Iowa-class battleships were dinosaurs the day they were launched. WWII naval battles turned on air power, not surface guns. The carrier Enterprise arguably made a greater contribution to US victory in the Pacific than all four Iowa-class battleships put together. Talk about disrespect — she was scrapped in 1958. The Japanese had two even larger battleships the Yamato and the Musashi and I doubt their contribution to the Japanese war effort was even equal to their fuel bill. Both were sunk without inflicting any significant damage to US forces.
Still, that armoured hull is something we can’t build today at any price. I’d really like to see it back in our active fleet, with a modern powerplant and modern armaments.

eyesonu

Thank you for honoring our armed services. I salute you as well as the services so deserving the honors.
That photo is impressive to say the least.. Nine 16″ projectiles at over 1 ton each simultainiously approaching a target 24 miles away with no possibility of electronic jamming. Think about it for a moment.
Would you scrap that old ’57 Chevy or consider a restoration utilizing some of the ‘new’?

Gayle

I had the opportunity to board and tour the USS Iowa in 1987, thanks to my father-in-law’s command position at Norfolk. She has remained close to my heart ever since. I hope the people of San Francisco appreciate her as they should. Too bad she can’t sail up the Mississippi and the Missouri and berth at Council Bluffs, where I know she would be loved and appreciated. (And yes, I know that’s not possible!)

Dave Worley

That photo gives the appearance that the ship is recoiling a long way. That does not seem possible. Most likely it’s a turn as someone has commented.

It’s posts like this that make me glad to be a minority viewpoint. We’re a couple of weeks off the 6th of June. 10,000 casualties in one day. Let’s not forget them.
Pointman

George E. Smith;

Well I am old enogh to remember when the only thing standing between my arse, and the empire of the rising sun, was the United States Navy; and the men who sailed those ships. I don’t recall any of the Big Battle Wagons ever making it to Auckland, for R&R; A long way to burn fuel; and we could only really supply them foodwise; being dependent on open shipping lanes, ourselves for almost anything manufactured. But I did get to watch many GIs baseballing on the footy field of the Manurewa Elementary School; and went to the Homai camp many times, to watch Errol Flynn movies, sitting on a GI’s lap in a big tent. So to N. Jim; if you’re still out there somewhere; I won’t ever forget you. And you too; Fatty, and Skinny; my little sister remembers you too. Hope you made it home, from that hell on earth out in the Pacific.
And finally to former Mayor of San Francisco, and now California “senator” dianne feinstein; a nice Bronx cheer, for giving the USS Iowa, the bum’s rush, and ending it packing to LaLa land. Well SF didn’t deserve it anyway.
To all you veterans out there; my eternal Thank You; we can’t ever repay our debt to You.

Gail Combs

I am happy to hear she will not be sold for scrap. And a big thank you to all those who have served in the military and are now serving. No matter what the politicians do, right or wrong YOU guys are the ones putting your lives on the line.

nc
George E. Smith;

“”””” Dave Worley says:
May 28, 2012 at 7:30 am
That photo gives the appearance that the ship is recoiling a long way. That does not seem possible. Most likely it’s a turn as someone has commented. “””””
Not so fast Dave, that is not just the ship that moved sideways, It took a lot of water that flowed from a long way away, with it.. There are numerous other pictures of battleship broadsides, that clearly show the whole recoil surface wave radiating from the ship. That is all under the gun fire in this photo.
Also, ship’s bows are made pointy like that for a reason, and they don’t sweep water sideways like that in a turn; they slice through the water, not scoop it aside. Try pulling a toilet plunger out rapidly, and see how far away frm it, the water moves.

Gunga Din

RACookPE1978 says:
May 28, 2012 at 6:45 am
But the British “consensus” scientific development followed the own “favorite sons” and “consensus” experts in the Brit Navy and the Brit establishment (Royal Society – among others) …. So, at Jutland – and moany other naval battle sin WWI, they LOST their battlecruisers and their ships because their computers – their equations and their corrections and their calculators were dead wrong.
============================================================
First, there are many who read this blog who have lost loved ones in the service of preserving freedom, not just for us in the US but also for their own coutries. This is small consolation but I am grateful for what they did.
Second, Jutland. That was one of the few turning points in history that may have literally been a turn. The British had more ships but ship for ship the German ships were better, except for the Queen Elizabeths. Better aiming, better ammo (British armor piercing rounds tended to break up on impact.), better quality armour, a fatal flaw in British ship design allowed a direct hit on a gun turret to explode the magazine, etc. Remember there was no radar at the time. The British admiral ordered his fleet to make a turn without knowing where the Germans were. That turn happened to put them in the position to “cross the T” of the German fleet, a great tactical advantage at the time. If they hadn’t made that turn the fleets would have sailed by each other with neither fleet having a positional tactical advantage. Perhaps the German fleet would have won not just the tactical battle (They did sink more British ships than they lost.) but the strategic battle as well. The U-boat almost forced Britain to surrender. Throw in the German High Seas Fleet ….. ? If Germany had won, there would have been no rise of Hitler and the Nazi party. One of history’s “might have beens”.
Third, as I understand it, the 16′ guns were only fired simultaniously for photo shoots. All that recoil was tough on the ships.

eyesonu

Pointman, you make a valid point. Many of us have not forgotten, but there is a new generation and of course the ‘ivory towers’. The old school remembers the hard lessons, the ‘new school’ not as there has never been a hard lesson.

Darrin

Alan Watt, from where she will be sitting they’ll be able to call her back to active duty if needed. The reason behind retiring her is she is just to damn expensive to operate, takes a lot of fuel oil to keep her going. When I was in the Navy(late 80’s- early 90’s) it was bandied about that it cost around 1 milliion a day to keep her underway. Second reason is a retrofit to a more modern propulsion system and armament would also be cost prohibitive. To truly make her worthwhile to run with her size and weight she would need to go nuclear, gas would work but she would likely only be able to outrun supply ships.

DonS

Caption on the first photo says something like “16 inch 50 caliber guns”. Is that right swabbies?

To Jonathan Smith,
There is hardly any movement of the ship, but the guns recoil a couple of meters. I have first hand knowledge. One of my tasks as a midshipman on summer cruise on the Missouri in 1951, was to load the firing cartridge into the breach of one of those big guns. I was located in a recessed area just to the side and watched the recoil. The projectile and powder bags had been loaded the floor above me and I inserted the cartridge after the guns were elevated.
Capt. Fred H. Haynie (Ret)

Alan Watt says:
May 28, 2012 at 6:46 am
It’s sad to see this ship retired. I don’t believe any US shipyard has the capability to build this hull any more.

We don’t have the capability of making homogenous chromium-nickel steel battleplate anymore, either. When Iowa and New Jersey were being upgraded, the shipyards used ordinary shot-peened steel.
Dave Worley says:
May 28, 2012 at 7:30 am
That photo gives the appearance that the ship is recoiling a long way. That does not seem possible. Most likely it’s a turn as someone has commented.

She’s cruising straight ahead, slowly. The recoil illusion is whitecapping of her wake caused by blast overpressure from the guns.

George E. Smith;

“”””” Alan Watt says:
May 28, 2012 at 7:08 am
The Iowa-class battleships were dinosaurs the day they were launched. WWII naval battles turned on air power, not surface guns. The carrier Enterprise arguably made a greater contribution to US victory in the Pacific than all four Iowa-class battleships put together. Talk about disrespect — she was scrapped in 1958. The Japanese had two even larger battleships the Yamato and the Musashi and I doubt their contribution to the Japanese war effort was even equal to their fuel bill. Both were sunk without inflicting any significant damage to US forces. “””””
A Navy pilot veteran, I became acquainted with; Ensign Jack Cowan Cochrane of Dinuba California, went to flight school with George HW Bush, and was assigned to the carrier Wasp
in the Pacific. Bush was assigned to the carrier San Jacinto.
Jack was awarded The Navy Cross for his role in the first battle of the Phillipine sea. He also got a DFC (one of two) for helping torpedo a Japanese heavy cruiser, in the second battle of the Phillipine sea; AKA Leyte Gulf. He was one of three planes making a simultaneous run at the cruiser, at 140 ft and 140 knots; sitting ducks, because any move would send the fish off sideways. So all three dropped successfully and all hit (and sank) the ship.
But Jack caught a 40 mm AA shell, which blew a 3 x 4 ft hole in his wing, but never broke anything vital.
His flight of about 15 Grumman Avengers climbed and regrouped at 1500 feet to return to their carriers. The Battleship Musashi; sister of Yamato, fired a 18 inch (think so) round at them from the port aft quarter, and Jack said the shell went by right in front of them, exactly on their altitude, and exploded a short distance to the right of the flight. The shock wave flipped some of the planes sideways; but all survived. If the shell had had proximity fuzes; the whole 15 plane flight would have been scrap metal; but the timed fuze was a fraction of asecond too late.
Musashi could have hit them if they had been at 15,000 feet.
As Allan says, Musashi never hit anything much. I think it survived Leyte Gulf, and was lost later, as was Yamato.
The story of Jack’s Navy Cross, is even more remarkable.
Sadly he died at about age 85, in perfect health; fainted getting out of bed too quickly, and broke his neck on the bed footboard.
He was about the nicest unassuming guy, I have ever met; and I had to drag his stories out of him, so that the heroes of The Greatest Generation will never be forgotten.

Gunga Din

DonS says:
May 28, 2012 at 8:24 am
Caption on the first photo says something like “16 inch 50 caliber guns”. Is that right swabbies?
============================================================
I’m not a “swabby” but I think your question is mixing up “small arms” and “large arms”. (If I get this wrong I’m sure I’ll be corrected. I welcome that.) In large guns “caliber” doesn’t refer to the diameter of the barrel as it does in small arms but rather the ratio of the barrels diameter to the length of the barrel.

Hoser

No, the people of San Francisco don’t appreciate these ships. They had the chance to have one, and passed on it. I have set foot on the Missouri and New Jersey. It was amazing to see the plaque commemorating the signing of the Japanese surrender at the end of WWII.
http://ww2db.com/battle_spec.php?battle_id=13
I was in the Smithsonian viewing the Enola Gay forward section and some people walked by complaining about the bombing of Hiroshima. I said without the atomic bomb drops, my wife would not have been born, and my kids wouldn’t either. My father-in-law was a US Marine who fought on Iwo Jima. Almost certainly, he would not have survived a battle on the main islands of Japan. Part of me celebrates Aug 6 and 9 not only for the US, but also for Japan. The Japanese people were freed from a tyrranical government. Keep in mind that hundreds of thousands of people died in the firebombings of Japanese cities; more died in one attack on Tokyo than each the atomic attacks.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombing_of_Tokyo
It is the soldier who gives us freedom, and it should not be squandered.

@eyesonu. Yes, I’ll do something to honour them this Friday.
Pointman

George E. Smith;

Correction. Musashi WAS lost at Leyte Gulf (Battle of); and it did have 9 18 inch guns.

DonS says:
May 28, 2012 at 8:24 am
Caption on the first photo says something like “16 inch 50 caliber guns”. Is that right swabbies?

I’m not a swabbie, but any former or current Redleg can answer that. The bore diameter is 16 inches and the tube is fifty calibers in length, from muzzle to breech. Caliber refers to the bore diameter, which in this case, is 16 inches, so the tube is 800 inches long.

Jakehig

RACookPE1978 says:
May 28, 2012 at 6:45 am
This post is stridently critical of the RN’s gunnery systems etc. but posts no references. This is the first I have read of such deficiencies. What are the sources for these comments?
Gunga Din has already noted the problems with ship design and shell construction but there was also an issue with fuses. After Jutland the Germans removed unexploded large-calibre shells from several ships.
Back on topic, I have nothing but respect and gratitude for the bravery and sacrifice of the services.