A day at the ocean

Today my son, Joe, and his son, William, went to the harbor at San Pedro to see the USS Iowa on the first day it was open to the public. We had neglected to buy tickets online and, when we arrived, we found first that it had been moved from where we thought it was, and that the line was enormous. In fact, they had stopped selling tickets because the ship was too crowded.

Joe got on his cell phone and logged into the ship website, where he was able to buy tickets for the 2 o’clock boarding time. He couldn’t print, of course, so we went over to the yacht club where we were able to print the tickets. We had lunch and went back to the ship about 1:40. We found the end of the line for 2 o’clock and boarded just about on time.

It was still very crowded but the tour was enjoyable.

Here are Joe and William on the main deck with the two forward turrets in the background. The #2 turret is the one that had the lethal explosion in 1989. The initial reports suggested that it had occurred by sabotage.

The first investigation into the explosion, conducted by the US Navy, concluded that one of the gun turret crew members, Clayton Hartwig, who died in the explosion, had deliberately caused it. During the investigation, numerous leaks to the media, later attributed to Navy officers and investigators, implied that Hartwig and another sailor, Kendall Truitt, had engaged in a homosexual relationship and that Hartwig had caused the explosion after their relationship had soured. In its report, however, the Navy concluded that the evidence did not show that Hartwig was homosexual but that he was suicidal and had caused the explosion with either an electronic or chemical detonator.

Ultimately, that explanation was rejected by the public and Congress as an out for the Navy and the explanation was an error in loading the bags of powder.

Here is William standing by a shell and the powder bags on the main deck. The bags are behind the shell and are rammed into the breech after the shell with a rammer. The investigation concluded that it was not a human error or a deliberate act but an error in loading.

During its review, Sandia determined that a significant overram of the powder bags into the gun had occurred as it was being loaded and that the overram could have caused the explosion. A subsequent test by the Navy of the overram scenario confirmed that an overram could have caused an explosion in the gun breech. Sandia’s technicians also found that the physical evidence did not support the Navy’s theory that an electronic or chemical detonator had been used to initiate the explosion.

At any rate, the tour was fun and the day was beautiful. The ship is still not fully restored and will require a lot of work to get into good shape for tourists. It got quite warm in the after section where the ship store is and I finally headed up to the main deck again to cool off.

Here are Joe and William at the stern of the ship looking out at the empty cruise ship terminal.

Here is William on the bridge with the rest of the ship in the background.

Here is Joe taking a photo of William with the main gun turrets in the background.

It was a beautiful day. We will be back.

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One Response to “A day at the ocean”

  1. Ken Mueller says:

    Great pictures. Thanks.