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U.S.S. Iowa Will Depart Saturday During Bridge Festivities

Historic World War II battleship is scheduled to pass under the Golden Gate Bridge between 2 and 3 p.m. after a week-long weather delay.

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.

John Kuhlman May 26, 2012 at 05:06 PM
In 1955 as an NROTC graduate from University of Oklahoma, I sailed on the USS Iowa (BB61) as a Midshipman in training. BB61 was part of a flotilla of about 15 ships. We sailed from Norfolk, VA taking 14 days to cross the Atlantic to the port of Gosport in England. The crossing was longer than normal because of various Navy and Marine manuevers at sea. In Gosport, we were welcomed by the Mayor of Gosport with a huge celebration event where we were served "strawberries and cream". Leaving England we sailed through the Straits of Gibralter into the Mediterranean to ports in France, Spain and N. Africa/Turkey. Before returning to Norfolk we spent several days in Guantanmo Bay, Cuba (pineapple juice was the drink of the day. Many gallons of it on very hot days!) and conducted gunnery practice with the island of Culebra as the target. Firing BB61's 16" guns broadside was a memorable experience. One other experience. The ships news came out one day inviting all Midshipman to join the ship's crew for swimming off the fantail at 1600 hours. Told us to put on swim suit and bring our towels. So there we Midshipmen were in the middle of the Atlantic ocean on the fantail (stern of ship) and all of the ships crew standing on decks above us waving their towels telling us to go ahead and jump of the fantail! Of course the water was mere 30 to 40 feet below the fantail and the ship was steaming full ahead at 25 knots! John Henry Kuhlman IV johnkuhlman@comcast.net Novato, CA
Brent Ainsworth May 26, 2012 at 05:24 PM
I salute you, John! Great story. Thanks for sharing.

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