U.S.S. IOWA Arrives!
The "Big Stick" is towed into San Francisco Bay and the Navy is back!
Nothing less than spectacular was IOWA’s Midnight Arrival at the Golden Gate Bridge on Friday, April 20. One of the greatest ships ever launched by the American People was transiting under a bridge many label an engineering marvel of the 20th Century. The Cities of Oakland and San Francisco were contacted by HSMPS and dedicated several fireboats to greet IOWA. The City of San Rafael police boat also joined the welcoming committee. Enormous water plumes shot hundreds of feet into the air, illuminated by the fireboats’own floodlights as IOWA was escorted into San Francisco Bay. To add to this dramatic scene, HSMPS hunted all over California to rent 8,000 watts of brilliance generated by two enormous World War II search lights. These incredibly powerful lights illuminated the battleship’s magnificent silhouette from both the north and south ends of the "Gate". The powerful beams, when not on IOWA, formed a brilliant white arch over the Golden Gate Bridge from 11PM -2AM amid cheers from thousands of spectators. Nearby roads were choked with parked cars as people, some having driven hundreds of miles or flown thousands of miles, streamed to bayside sites to see IOWA. Traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge came to a rush hour crawl. It probably marks the first midnight commemoration of a mobilization asset, if not a commissioned vessel.
IOWA’s arrival electrified the Bay Area news media--Aided by a HSMPS national news release, dozens of news segments aired and days of front page coverage appeared in leading newspapers. IOWA’s relocation received broad media coverage in national and regional print, broadcast, and television media. Television stations 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 11, 20 covered the battleship’s arrival in San Francisco Bay on Friday, April 20, and her tow to Suisun Bay on Saturday, April 21. The reporting continued for another two days. IOWA’s midnight arrival and transit to Suisun Bay was covered live with on the spot descriptions and interviews with former crew members. San Francisco radio stations KSFO and Des Moines station Radio IOWA also broadcast news of IOWA’s arrival. Newspapers San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner, Contra Costa Times, Marin Independent Journal, Sacramento Bee, Press Democrat, San Jose Mercury News, San Diego Union Tribune, Los Angeles Times among others gave extensive, very favorable coverage. Associated Press wrote a great article and published a number of photographs of IOWA’s San Francisco Bay transit. AOL carried photo’s of IOWA, featured on their CBS News site. The French and Chinese media were also present for IOWA’s homeporting.
The Air Show on Saturday, April 21, honored IOWA before thousands of Bay Area residents in the City of Benicia as the battleship approached Suisun Bay. An Air Force KC-10 tanker, arranged for by Marin County Council Navy League and HSMPS, made dazzling, low level passes over IOWA as members of the national press, in helicopters and on the ground, stared in amazement. The Confederate Air Force sortied four aircraft, including a P-51 Mustang. So crowded was the waterfront that one Navy League President was forced to park two miles away to get a glimpse of IOWA. U.S. Coast Guard patrol boats and pleasure craft were everywhere to be seen. Bridge traffic over the Benicia Bridge was at a crawl as IOWA was towed under the bridge. Even AMTRAK trains running along the Bay slowed and sounded their horns. Unfortunately, the Navy air demonstration to honor IOWA, approved by the service’s Chief of Information, Admiral Stephen Pietropaoli, could not be generated by the naval aviation community.
History came alive when the Presidential Yacht POTOMAC, which Franklin Delano Roosevelt used to embark upon IOWA, trailed the procession to Suisun Bay. A personal vestige to the late President, just like the bathtub installed on IOWA, the POTOMAC carried veterans, families, friends and press. She was the platform for a major television station’s coverage of the historic arrival of "President Roosevelt’s battleship" and added grace and history to this amazing day. For HSMPS staff, it was a great to work with the POTOMAC.
IOWA was honored in a professional and imaginative manner. Her arrival offered a golden opportunity to highlight a proud naval legacy in an area steeped in naval heritage and tradition. The results were singularly unique and favorable for the service. The community is proud of IOWA and the Navy. Moreover, the community appreciates the Navy’s decision to return to the Bay Area by relocating one of our nation’s most treasured assets near America’s most visited City. HSMPS staff and supporters will never forget this day, one of the best in their lives.
To help us continue with the project of preparing an educational and museum program for students about IOWA (while she is in reserve status) as well as funding preparations for IOWA as a memorial and museum upon her retirement from the reserves, please consider becoming a donor member or providing services. Your help is needed. Refer to our Ship's Store and Membership page and thank you.
To see additional photographs of IOWA's arrival, click here.
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