Get out your flags and cameras ready, folks. The mighty U.S.S. Iowa is leaving San Francisco Bay — for real — Saturday.
And there will be a flotilla of well-wishers already out on the bay to greet her: Her departure coincides with the numerous events planned for the 75th Anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Do you know anybody who served on her? Add a comment below and allow us to salute that person.
At about 10:20 a.m. Thursday, the Pacific Battleship Center announced the departure via its Facebook Fan Page. The ship is to depart the Port of Richmond at 11 a.m. and should be under the Golden Gate Bridge by 2 p.m. "If you will be on a small boat, we encourage you to watch ship and boat traffic closely and please be safe!" the center wrote on its Facebook page.
Her departure was originally planned for May 20, but bad weather and high seas forced days' long delay. Perhaps to happy conclusion, since the festivities will be even bigger as the maritime community — and everyone else—comes out in force this holiday weekend for the bridge party. Bring out the fireboats!
The U.S.S. Iowa, the last of the battleships, is headed to Los Angeles, where it will become a floating museum — the last of its WWII sister ships to be restored and opened to the public — in San Pedro, near Long Beach.
The U.S.S. Iowa (BB-61) is the first of four “Iowa Class Battleships” from World War II. It is the last such ship to find a permanent home befitting its storied past. The other three are the U.S.S. New Jersey (now in Camden, N.J.), U.S.S. Missouri (at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and historic, for Japan's unconditional surrender was signed on its decks), and U.S.S. Wisconsin (in Norfolk, Va.).
In the 1980s, then-Mayor Dianne Feinstein lost a bid to homeport the U.S.S. Missouri in San Francisco. Efforts to keep the Iowa in the Bay Area also failed more recently.
The public's last chance to walk on her decks while berthed in the Bay Area was documented in . Volunteers lovingly cared for thes ship while it was in Richmond undergoing repairs.
The next chance? San Pedro, where the ribbon-cutting will take place on July 7.
It will take about three to four days for the U.S.S. Iowa to make its way to Los Angeles. Southern California publications were already trumpeting news of its departure.
Plan to find a spot around San Francisco Bay to wave goodbye Saturday.