Friday, September 19, 2008

Group hoping to bring USS Iowa to M.I. to hold informational open house

Group hoping to bring USS Iowa to M.I. to hold informational open house
Times-Herald staff report
Article Launched: 09/19/2008

An open house to learn more about efforts to bring the USS Iowa to Vallejo will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Mare Island Museum, 8th Street and Railroad Avenue on Mare Island.

"It's a chance for the community to interface with all the people involved with the effort and learn about all that they are doing to make it happen," said Merilyn Wong, president and director of Historic Ships Memorial at Pacific Square, the organization trying to find the battleship a new home.

Exhibits and photos will be available, and a film will be shown about the Iowa and efforts to bring it to Vallejo. The original Iowa whaleboat, used to transport troops on and off the ship, also will be on hand.

The free event will feature food and refreshments for a nominal charge, plus a "ship's store" with souvenirs for sale. All proceeds will go to the project.

If the Iowa comes to Mare Island, it would likely be docked between dry docks Nos. 1 and 2 in Mare Island's historic core.

The foundation needs to raise a minimum of $16.7 million, but is trying for $20 million, Wong said. So far, about $1 million has been raised, she said.

One of the Iowa's legacies is that it transported President Franklin D. Roosevelt to the Tehran Conference peace talks with Joseph Stalin and Winston Churchill during World War II. It also is the only battleship outfitted with a bath tub.

Currently part of the Suisun Bay Mothball Fleet, the Iowa was launched Aug. 27, 1942, and decommissioned in 1990. Mothballed in 2001, the ship is 888 feet (nearly three football fields), and about 108 feet tall.

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