Hugh Pickens writes writes: "The LA Times reports that decades after transporting President Franklin Roosevelt across the Atlantic and fending off kamikazes in the Pacific during World War II, the 45,000 ton battleship USS Iowa completed it final voyage as it arrived at its permanent berth at the Port of Los Angeles as a living museum. "This is my first time aboard since 1946," said Bob Dedic, who served on the 887-foot-long (270-metre) battleship from 1944 to 1946 and sported a cap he had bought at the ship's store more than six decades ago. He recalled wild storms, including one typhoon in which he feared the ship would capsize. Launched from the New York Naval Yard in 1942 with a crew of 151 officers and 2,637 enlisted men, the Iowa's first wartime duty was in the Atlantic, neutralizing a German battleship. Later in the war, the Iowa pounded beachheads in the Pacific with its 16-inch guns ahead of Allied landings and took part in the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay in 1945. Iowa was decommissioned in 1958 and stayed anchored off the Philadelphia Navy Yard for most of the next 26 years. To beef up a dwindling Navy, President Ronald Reagan ordered the Iowa restored, rigged with Tomahawk and Harpoon missiles, and, at a cost of $350 million, sent back to sea in 1984. In all its years at sea, the Iowa suffered only two minor hits by enemy fire. Its greatest tragedy was in peacetime, when a gun turret explosion in the Caribbean killed 47 sailors. The Navy laid the blame for the 1989 accident on a sailor who was allegedly distraught over a failed relationship with another man. A U.S. Navy investigation detected "foreign material" and the presence of a "chemical ignition device," naming one crew member as the "principal suspect" in purposefully causing the blast. Later Sandia National Laboratories report submitted to Congress found no conclusive evidence of such a material or ignition device, speculating that a "high-speed overram" of the turret may have been to blame. "This is a great military event," says Air Force Col. Richard E. Nolan, who is stationed at Los Angeles Air Force Base. "I'm telling my sons this is part of US history and hoping they will someday bring their children to see it.""
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