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Put a tow in the water: Battleship USS Iowa leaves for LA Saturday

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After weather-related (or perhaps, rematch-related) issues postponed the push-off from San Francisco Bay last week, the retired Battleship USS Iowa is finally set to complete its journey to the Port of Los Angeles.

Headed south to meet its new destiny as an interactive naval museum, the USS Iowa is scheduled to depart the Port of Richmond at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 26, and begin a four-day tow down the coast, provided the weather cooperates.

A decades-long member of the "mothball fleet," the powerful ship is expected to pass under the Golden Gate Bridge between 2-3 p.m. on Saturday as it makes its way out of the Bay area.

Those with an obstructed view or limited shore access, from, say, living anywhere else in the world that isn't the California coast, can still track the ship's movements, however.

The Pacific Battleship Center –- the nonprofit that’s restoring the ship and bringing it to L.A. -- will be providing a live stream of the voyage thanks to a webcam mounted above the bow, and a donation of transponders and tracking services by Pole Star Space Applications Ltd.

Robert Kent, president of The Pacific Battleship Center, says the organization doesn't operate other attractions and that it was created specifically for the purpose of acquiring the USS Iowa from the U.S. Navy.

"We’ve just finished about three-million dollars worth of restoration work on the vessel and the Iowa actually looks like she’s ready to go back into service," Kent told KPCC's Ashley Bailey. "All her weaponry is back on board, the entire superstructure all the way down to the waterline has been repainted, mast has been put back on."

The Pacific Battleship Center has a 10-year permit with the City of L.A.’s Harbor Department to maintain the battleship along the San Pedro waterfront.

According to the agreement, the city has the right to relocate the Iowa if annual paid attendance falls below 100,000 visitors, but Kent expects the ship will draw double that number of visitors per year. 

The museum will open in July.

Pro tip: Don't call the battleship a boat. "That will be the first thing that makes all us sailors cringe. A boat is really tiny and this is really magnificent," says Kent.

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