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HISTORY OF THE USS IOWA
ABOUT THE BOAT
  • Length: 377 ft.
  • Beam: 34 ft.
  • Displacement (Weight): 7,800 tons (equivalent to 65 blue whales)
  • Speed: 25+ knots (28+ miles per hour)
  • Maximum Depth: 800+ ft.
  • Crew: 15 officers, 117 enlisted

    ARMAMENT
  • 4 Torpedo Tubes
  • 2 Virginia Payload Tubes (VPT), each capable of holding 6 vertical launch Tomohawk missiles that can strike targets over 1,200 miles away.

    TECHNOLOGY
  • Sonar able to detect ships 3,000 miles away.
  • Photonics masts carrying thermal imaging and low-light cameras; replacing the telescope.
  • Nuclear reactor which powers the sub for the 30+ year lifespan of the ship.
  • Pump jet propulsion for quieter movement.
  • The United States Navy has used the name USS IOWA five times, but only the two named battleships were ever placed in service.  Now the name is used again on the fast attack submarine USS IOWA (SSN-797).  The Civil War USS IOWA was a converted merchant ship but was never activated.  IOWA (BB-53) was scrapped when only 31% built because of the agreement of the Washington Naval Conference.
      USS IOWA BB-4
    Unique and not a sister to any specific class until refurbishing into an INDIANA class battleship, IOWA (BB-4) started life as a coastal defense ship.  She was laid down on 5 August 1893, launched in March of 1896, and finally commissioned on 16 June 1897.  She boasted 11,000 ihp vertical triple expansion engines, coal storage for 1600 tons, and bristled with 4-12" (305 mm.) guns in fore and aft turrets.  She carried 4 twin turrets for 8" (23 mm.) guns, and a pair of torpedo tubes.  IOWA had an innovative form of steel armor with a 14" belt surrounding her.  At 362' stem to stern and a beam of 72' she could attain an excellent 20 knots.
    "Fighting" Robley Evans, a legend in Navy history, took command of BB-4 as the Spanish-American War commenced.  Initially used for blockade duty off the Port of Santiago, IOWA fell under the overall command of Commodore Winfield Scott Schley's Flying Squadron that eventually merged with Rear Admiral William Sampson's North Atlantic Squadron.  The blockade duty was a dull and boring two months.
    Spanish Admiral Pascual Cervera finally decided to sortie and attempt to break out from the blockade.  On Sunday 3-July-1898, the fleet steamed out of port.  Almost immediately the U.S. Navy saw the ships, and Schley ordered his ships to commence firing.  Evans' IOWA fired the first shot of the intense battle and pummeled two Spanish cruisers so badly that they were run aground to avoid sinking.
    During the battle, IOWA experienced an engine room fire that threatened the entire ship.  Fireman Robert Penn quickly and heroically extinguished the blaze.  For his actions he was awarded the Medal of Honor.
    As the battle ground down, IOWA started to rescue sailors from the water.  For the next 12 hours, Americans picked up 1,612 survivors and one pig.  The sailors became POWs but no one knows what happened to the pig.  Captain Don Antonio Eulate of the VIZCAYA, thanked the IOWA crew for saving his sailors and presented his sword to Captain Evans who handed it back as an act of chivalry.  Much later, Robley's crew presented him with a ceremonial sword engraved "To our hero--too just to take fallen foe's--we give this sword instead".
    In the post-war period, the great battleship rounded Cape Horn to show the flag off Chile.  She then steamed to Bremerton, WA for dry dock and refit.  She ultimately ended up in New York and decommissioned in 1903.  Hardly washed of sea salt, IOWA was back as flagship for the North Atlantic Squadron.  On 13 May 1911 she participated in rescuing passengers from the liner WARD that had collided with the steamship ADMIRAL FARRAGUT in fog.  All 139 passengers survived the sinking thanks to BB-4.
    The ship served as a training vessel for the next few years, training such luminaries at Raymond Spruance.  In 1914 she was again decommissioned in Philadelphia where she sat until the outbreak of World War I.
    During the Great War, IOWA was sent to Hampton Roads as a receiving ship and used as a guard ship at the entrance of Chesapeake Bay.  In 1919 she was decommissioned for the last time.  The Navy, wanting to free up the name, renamed the old lady Coastal Battleship #4 IX-6.  She traversed the Panama Canal in 1923 and was sunk as a target.
    USS IOWA (BB-4) received the Sampson Medal, the Navy Expeditionary Medal, the Spanish Campaign Medal, and the Cuban Pacification Medal.
      USS IOWA BB-61
    To this day, the name USS IOWA (BB-61) is connected to World War II, the Korean, and the Viet Nam wars as the mightiest Battleship ever built by the United States.  Other than Japan's YAMATO, no battleship compared to the IOWA and her sister ships: WISCONSIN, NEW JERSEY, and MISSOURI.
    The keel for this behemoth was laid down on 27 January 1940, sponsored by Mrs. Henry Wallace, wife of Iowa native Vice President Henry Wallace.  Mrs. Wallace christened her in August 1942, and the ship sailed with Captain John McCrea at the helm.  The skipper was a favorite of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and a former Naval Aide.
    IOWA class ships were 887 feet in length with a beam of 102 feet, weighing in at 58,000 tons when loaded.  She was driven by 8 Babcock and Wilcox M-type 600 PSI dual furnace, controlled superheat boilers, 4 engine sets producing 212,000shp that could push the BIG STICK (during Korea she bore the nickname of the Grey Ghost) up to 33 miles per hour (officially).  She carried a crew of 151 officers and 2,637 sailors.  Her motto was taken from the Iowa State Flag, "Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain".  In order to facilitate President Roosevelt when aboard, IOWA had a bathtub installed.
    For the Tehran Conference, Roosevelt needed the ship to carry him and his delegation that included General George Marshall, Army Chief of Staff; Admiral Ernest King, CNO; Admiral William Lehey, Chief of Staff; General Hap Arnold, Chief of the Army Air Corps; and Harry Hopkins, the president's top advisor.  During the trip, the Navy showed off with a series of maneuvers to impress Roosevelt.  Unfortunately the destroyer WILLIAM PORTER accidently fired a torpedo directly at the battleship.  The bridge quickly ordered increased speed and a hard turn that sent President and staff sprawling avoiding the potential disaster.
    Specifically designed to squeeze through the Panama Canal, IOWA became the Flagship of Battleship Division 7 in the Pacific.  She supported air strikes against Kwajalein and Eniwetok.  Her main service was at Saipan, Guam, and Tinian in the Marianas.  The capture of these islands allowed the huge B-17s and B-29s to directly bomb Japan.  She became the flagship for Halsey or Spruance alternating between the 3rd Fleet and the 5th Fleet.
    IOWA entered Tokyo Bay as Halsey's Flagship.  Her sister and twin, MISSOURI, was chosen as an honor to President Truman for the official surrender.  BB-61 was sent home and decommissioned briefly.
    The outbreak of the Korean Conflict brought the Big Stick back on duty.  She was used for shelling industrial and manufacturing sites.  With Army General Wayne Mark Clark on board she destroyed an ammunition dump.  At the end of the war, IOWA was sent back to Philadelphia and decommissioned.
    Several years later, Ronald Reagan ordered the battleship re-commissioned.  She was towed to Pascagoula, MS for refitting, modernization, and overhaul.  The outdated 20mm and 40 mm anti-aircraft guns were eliminated in favor of 16 AGM 84 and 32 BGM Tomahawk missiles along with 4 Phalanx Gatling guns.  In August 1988, USS IOWA once again was in the fleet.
    Three years later, IOWA lost steering and narrowly missed 3 U.S. ships before running aground.  Sadly, this was a harbinger of her age catching up to her.  On 19 August 1989 while firing her 16" guns, Turret 2 exploded, killing 47 men.  While NIS (now NCIS) initially decided the explosion was caused by an act of terrorism, Congress failed to accept their verdict.  Under non-governmental inspection, the culprit turned out to be very old black powder that was originally milled in 1930.  Laboratory test showed that the powder was very unstable and was ignited by static electricity.
    The USS IOWA (BB-61) was decommissioned in 1990, and now is a museum ship in the Port of Los Angelus.  In her career, she earned 9 Battle Stars, a Naval Unit Citation, a Naval "E" Ribbon with 3 stars, the American Campaign Ribbon, the Korean Service Medal with 2 stars, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, the Philippine Unit Citation, the South Korean Unit Citation, the Philippine Liberation Medal, and the U.N. Korea Medal.
      USS IOWA SSN 797
    The newest iteration of the name is scheduled for a nuclear submarine of the VIRGINIA class.  Being built by General Dynamics Electric Boat Company in Rhode Island, this vessel will be a silent 7,800 tons with a length of 377 feet, a beam of 34 feet, and a draft of 33 feet.  Her S9G reactor steam turbine engine will push her up to 25 knots.  She will be armed with 12 VLS tubes and 4x21' Mark 48 torpedo tubes.  The Newport News shipyard is building the reactor and power unit while the forward half of the submarine is being built by General Dynamic Electric Boat in Groton, CT.  With the expertise of these experienced companies, USS IOWA will continue to be the pride of the Navy and her namesake state.
    Dr. Stephen D. Regan, Ed.D.