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Museum Update: 18 April 2024


Dawn on Wednesday, April 19, 1989 finds USS IOWA underway in the blue Caribbean waters off Puerto Rico. The only unusual thing about this gorgeous sunny day is that there is an admiral aboard to observe a gunnery demonstration.

At 0955 (9:55 AM) a nineteen-year-old engineman 3rd class has just come off watch and is chatting with a shipmate near the dentist’s office on second deck. There’s a bang – a big one. A bang like the ship has fired one of her massive 16″ guns.

But something’s off. The sound isn’t quite normal.

And then smoke starts pouring through a vent in the overhead. General quarters blares over the 1-MC speakers, but for once, it’s no mere announcement and it’s definitely not a drill.

The young sailor (pictured above) is David Canfield, Battleship IOWA’s Vice President and Chief Information/Technology Officer, and as we prepare to mark the 35th anniversary of the Turret II tragedy, he shares some thoughts with us.

As we head into Friday and the 35th annual remembrance of the IOWA 47 who lost their lives in Turret Two on April 19, 1989, I am powerfully reminded that each of us involved in this institution are here for reasons that are deeper than a paycheck or trivial volunteering opportunity; they are often rooted in passion and emotion.

Although the things that draw a diverse group of people to the battleship vary greatly, I believe that we are unified in what we do while we are here.

Sometimes it is easy to lose sight of that, and I would encourage everyone on the crew to take a moment to reflect on what we, as a unified crew, have accomplished over the past dozen+ years. Sometimes when we are focused on the daily challenges we lose track of from whence we have come, and of where we are going.

We will have 1980s crew onboard for the memorial and for a few days prior to and following. Please take a moment to speak to these veterans of IOWA and get to know them.

Many will want to visit old workspaces, and if you have the opportunity to facilitate this and escort them it will be an experience not soon forgotten. I would encourage the current crew to connect with the previous crew during this time — these opportunities are fleeting.

Some final thoughts about the 19th:

Thank you to the entire crew for never forgetting the 19th or the 47 sailors who perished that day, and for also remembering the rest of the crew who still bear the scars.

April 19th, 1989 is little more than a footnote in history, especially against the backdrop of 35 years of trauma and war — but it is our footnote, and I appreciate that here, aboard the battleship, it is not forgotten.

I am humbled and honored to remain a part of this crew.

David Canfield
Vice President & CIO

To learn more about David’s experiences aboard IOWA on April 19, 1989, as well as read about his return to the ship as a member of the team who saved her from the scrapheap of history, please click the button below.

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