Historic Ships Memorial at Pacific Square ("HSMPS") presents the United States Navy and the people of the nation with outstanding, long-term value. In particular, HSMPS's educational emphasis and social commitment in one of the country's most visited areas and cities, the San Francisco Bay Area, presents the United States Navy with an unique and enviable recruitment and public relations vehicle. This is particularly important given nationwide service cutbacks, base closures and fleet relocation to a few locations, distancing the Navy from the populace. The Bay Area in return benefits from the project's formidable educational, economic, and social benefits. Underlying all we do is the belief that by being transferred to San Francisco, the U.S.S. Iowa ("IOWA") can serve the nation, the community and the United States Navy in the following ways.
The long-term benefits of placing U.S.S. IOWA in San Francisco are dramatically diverse and, perhaps, even ingenious. The potent, pragmatic, and varied capabilities of the battleship are hard to understate. These benefits multiply with increased public access aboard. It is this multitude of possible benefits that convinced the States of California and Iowa as well as both Houses of Congress of the United States for two years that IOWA should be homeported in San Francisco.
Past President Edward Cummings, Captain USN (Ret.) & current President Merylin Wong are shown aboard IOWA, keeping the project in alignment and on target. (This photo shows IOWA in Philadelphia in 1998. Since then we have brought the ship to the San Francisco Bay Area.)
NAVAL LEGACY: Vallejo and the United States Navy have a relationship that dates back over 150 years and during that time Mare Island naval shipyard constructed over 500 ships. The only battleship ever constructed on the West Coast, the U.S.S. California, was launched from Mare Island. During WWII, the shipyard was instrumental in the construction and repair of so many submarines that one can effectively argue that the shipyard played a major role in the defeat of Japan. In the Cold War, Mare Island Naval Shipyard constructed nuclear submarines. Since the facility was closed by the Navy and turned into civilian use, Mare Island Naval Shipyard has been preserved and titled one of the most significant locations on the West Coast on the National Historic Trust. It is a wonderful site for the U.S.S. Iowa to become a naval memorial and museum.
In a more general sense, over nearly six decades of their illustrious history, IOWA and her three sister ships, NEW JERSEY, MISSOURI, and WISCONSIN, collectively known as the 'Iowa'-class battleships, have visited San Francisco Bay in the past. They came for a variety of reasons including maintenance, repair, drydock, inactivation, recommissioning and decommissioning ceremonies, and port calls. Lead ship U.S.S. Iowa is a symbol of the world's most evolutionary and wide-ranging navy. Her history is that of an American Navy protecting its homeland and the free world, a Navy that held the line during World War II and the Cold War. U.S.S. Iowa will memorialize the sacrifices of service personnel in both peace and war. With U.S.S. Iowa prominently displayed at Mare Island, Vallejo, the naval legacy will be the beneficiary of significant visibility in one of America's oldest naval installations.
HSMPS maintains contact with the Naval Historical Center in the Washington Naval Shipyard in Washington D.C. so as to faithfully convey this priceless naval heritage.
EDUCATION: IOWA is a powerful educational medium to impart almost a quarter of this nation's history. As President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's battleship, she vividly conveys the enormous and almost desperate effort made by this nation in the greatest human conflict ever waged--World War II--a world war that concluded on the decks of her sister battleshipship, MISSOURI. What few know, is that U.S.S. Iowa was originally designated the platform to accept Japan's surrender. Harry S. Truman from the State of Missouri, who became President as a result of the untimely death of President Roosevelt, selected U.S.S. Missouri on which to hold the ceremony to mark the end of World War II. The battleship's service in WW II and her continued deployments in the Cold War, from the gun line off Korea to North Atlantic and Mediterranean patrols with NATO, symbolize the dramatic rise of America as a superpower. Her powerful story is one of national evolution, visibly conveying some of the most defining moments in human history.
The educational component is significantly expanded through new high school courses planned for day and overnight programs. This includes study programs in science, history and math that are geared to meet State standards in education. Students will be given pre-boarding reading assignments designed to enhance their onboard experience. For instance, science students will study the principles of steam then visit IOWA's engineering spaces to get a real example of how water can be converted into energy. History students will visit the ship and President Roosevelt's cabin and related exhibits to learn more about FDR and WW II. The ship is a vast classroom waiting to be explored. Already, five school districts, representing hundreds of thousands of school children, have written HSMPS supporting the U.S.S. Iowa's placement at Mare Island.
PRESIDENTIAL SITE: The U.S.S. Iowa was President Roosevelt's battleship during World War II and has been discussed by the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute as a Presidential site. In this light, we envision a FDR museum and exhibit onboard. Such a display would add another Presidential site to the West Coast. Importantly, the battleship would be the West Coast's only monument to one of our nation's greatest presidents. This is especially fitting as President Roosevelt visited Mare Island on several occasions and his Presidential yacht POTOMAC has been preserved in the San Francisco Bay Area. In this light, U.S.S. Iowa at Mare Island offers the nation a unique Presidential site and museum.
CONFLICT RESOLUTION: HSMPS has worked with both the Department of the Navy and the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute to conceive of the annual use of the U.S.S. Iowa as a conflict resolution platform. Envisioned as a week long annual conference of world leaders (including the Secretary of State, ambassadors, Department of Defense, NATO leadership, the Vatican, United Nations leadership), this gathering would focus on identifying and proposing solutions to global flash points that include piracy, global warming, nuclear proliferation, famine, trade disputes, etc. The workshop venue, attended by diverse and global representation, would provide global leaders and representatives an unique opportunity to meet in an alternative, private and historical setting. This use of the U.S.S. Iowa presents a powerful and influential opportunity for the Navy and the battleship. Such a global conference advances President Roosevelt's principles of world peace and stability. No other naval memorial would offer this advantage.
RECRUITMENT: In Vallejo, U.S.S. Iowa will enjoy enormous visibility in the nation's most visited regions, with over 16 million visitors annually. Add to this the fact that nearly 5 million tourists frequent the wine country in nearby Napa Valley and another 2 million visitors come to Vallejo's Marine World Africa USA. For a Navy struggling to attract recruits, U.S.S. Iowa in Vallejo in the North San Francisco Bay Area represents an significant gateway to potential recruits. In Vallejo, U.S.S. Iowa will attract local residents (not likely to go into the City) as well as tourists. The population base around Vallejo is nearly 2 million. The impressive battleship, with her graceful lines and powerful capabilities, will inspire potential recruits to join, while for parents that may tour the ship the Navy may develop as a serious career option for their children. Clearly, for a Navy that has relocated to just a few ports, U.S.S. Iowa in Vallejo and the San Francisco Bay Area is a powerful medium for reaching the American public. By bringing the U.S.S. Iowa to Vallejo, HSMPS will help put the United States Navy at center stage in a major metropolitan area and a global tourist Mecca. IOWA's location in the San Francisco Bay Area is enthusiastically endorsed by local recruiters.
JOB CREATION: The U.S.S. Iowa as a operating non-profit will employed nearly 50 individuals. Additionally, the bringing of the IOWA to Mare Island will trigger (1) probable development of the buildings adjacent to the battleship's berth and (2) the likely establishment of many new, staff intensive organizations, especially non-profit entities, and businesses. The bringing of the U.S.S. Iowa to Mare Island will generate hundreds of jobs in remodeling, administration, sales, food services, hospitality functions, public relations and more. The area around U.S.S. Iowa's berth potentially represents nearly 11 acres for development. To-date nearly 30,000 square feet of space has been identified by specific non-profits and businesses as worthy of lease consideration.
WOUNDED WARRIOR PROGRAM: The U.S.S. Iowa will employ approximately 50 individuals. However, the housing of the two large non-profits interested in relocating by U.S.S. Iowa and the development of retail business (some already with signed letters of interest) adds a powerful economic aspect to the project. The potential re-modeling of facilities and build-out of these organizations and businesses will employ hundreds. HSMPS is a strong advocate of developing a program of job training and placement for our wounded veterans. The U.S.S. Iowa and Pacific Square represent hundreds of jobs that could be developed into a national model of training and employment for disabled veterans. Fortunately, there is a new VA clinic within blocks of IOWA's projected berth.
DISASTER CONTINGENCY: HSMPS has taken a lead role in plans to use U.S.S. Iowa in the event of a disaster. We have worked with the Navy for years in planning for this application. We have been incorporated in regional dialogues on emergency recovery and met with civic leaders. HSMPS has designated areas of the battleship for disaster command and control functions. San Francisco Bay Area will sustain a major earthquake in the future. When it occurs, IOWA could save lives. An 'Iowa'-class battleship is virtually seismic-proof. Similarly, a terrorist act could incapacitate regional emergency and police response capability. Here too, U.S.S. Iowa's armor plated and sealed hull makes her a very robust control post in Vallejo. With the Navy's approval and without any structural modifications or degradation in dehumidification efforts or security , "selected compartments" aboard IOWA may serve as an ideal, emergency command and control facility for Bay Area emergency response officials. Diesel generators on the ship can deliver power while real-time data communications can be easily initiated and received aboard the battleship from portable equipment. Former Governor Davis of California endorsed this concept. There is strong civic support for this use.
PRESERVATION: U.S.S. Iowa will receive exceptional maintenance in the Bay Area. The extensive work experience of the personnel and facilities that the Maritime Administration maintains in the region to care for the reserve fleet, are a robust resource certainly adequate for the battleship's needs. One of the nation's largest concentration of reserve ships is in nearby Suisun Bay. As if this were not enough, San Francisco has a dry dock large enough for the 887-foot long IOWA. The private maritime support services used by MARAD stand ready to take of BB-61 as a museum ship.
COMMUNITY INTEGRATION: Placing U.S.S. Iowa at Mare Island, Vallejo provides the veteran's community a bridge to the large non-veteran populace. U.S.S. Iowa in the San Francisco Bay Area represents a dramatic portal, connecting the military with the nation at large.
Conclusion: Berthing the historic battleship IOWA in Vallejo presents the United States Navy and the community with outstanding value and a multitude of opportunities. The benefits to the Navy and the community are mutual, clearly enormous, and long term. The Bay Area's unique visibility as a tourist mecca, its experienced maritime preservation force and infrastructure, and deep water piers make it a highly viable candidate as a homeport for the U.S.S. Iowa. BB-61's historical and educational stature offer a highly valued experience and contribution to our nation's historical legacy. At Mare Island, Vallejo, such a rich blend of benefits beckons a truly great ship.
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