Built in 1943 at the cost of $120 million, the construction of the massive USS Iowa was an incredible accomplishment. Nearly three football fields long, the battleship was nicknamed the Big Stick. Her massive guns could hurl a 2700 pound shell, the weight of a Volkswagen Bug, a distance of 24 miles. She is the namesake of the most powerful and fastest class of battleships ever launched by the United States. Her sister ships are the USS Missouri, USS New Jersey, and the USS Wisconsin - which all have permanent homes already.
Serving the nation with distinction for over five decades in every major deployment of the armed services, the USS Iowa has a rich history of service. In World War II, the Iowa served as President Roosevelt's ship, moving him to and from the Tehran Conference. It was also present in Tokyo Bay for the surrender ceremony marking the end of World War II, serving as the communications ship to inform the world that peace had been achieved.
During the Korean War, the Iowa engaged enemy forces, shelling enemy positions on the North Korean coast. The Iowa was also involved in Operation Decoy, a strategy near the end of the war to draw enemy troops within distance of the US battleships' guns. After the Korean war, the Iowa was involved in numerous NATO exercises.
The ship was re-commissioned in 1984 by then Vice President George H.W. Bush. In 1989, 47 crew members lost their lives in an explosion on the ship, the only loss of life the battleship ever experienced.
Today, the USS Iowa's fate is uncertain. With a high cost of maintaining battleships, the ship is in danger of not being preserved. This potential tragedy has not gone unnoticed however, and today there is a fight to save the national treasure. Numerous people have joined this cause, including President George H.W. Bush, Iowa Governors Bob Ray, Terry Branstad, and Tom Vilsack, and author Tom Clancy, who currently serves as the Honorary Campaign Chairman of the Historic Ships Memorial at Pacific Square, an organization dedicated to saving the USS Iowa. Historic Ships Memorial at Pacific Square and its status with the Navy is recognized by the Iowa State Legislature. The Iowa State Senate has just passed a resolution to protect and preserve USS Iowa while urging all Iowans to join in these efforts.
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