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Accessibility & Safety

Accessibility & Safety:

The Battleship IOWA was built for active duty naval service and as such corridor space and access from deck to deck as well as the width of doors were minimized to essential crew needs only.  For this reason, you will not find original elevators on battleships, just ladders (a nautical term for stairs).  You will also notice that the corridors are much narrower than what you would see in an average building space.  Being at sea, under the conditions of potential conflict, also meant that many of the doors were either watertight or completely sealable for structural integrity.  You will encounter what the sailors refer to as “knee knockers” throughout the ship at doorways and passageways.  Knee Knockers are the 6-8” elevated base of the watertight and structural door ways that allow for the doors to be sealed.  They got their name from those that forgot they were there and tripped over them landing in most cases on their knees. Today the Knee Knockers and the narrow doorways are an impediment to guests in wheelchairs or those using walkers.



Accessibility to Persons with Disabilities

Battleship IOWA Museum has installed one chairlift on Main Deck; the deck used to board and exit the ship, bringing guests to the 01 level to the Captain’s Cabin where former President FDR stayed. As part of the opening of the Battleship IOWA’s newest exhibit, LOST AT SEA, two more lifts for our physically impaired guests are newly installed facilitate access to the 2nd deck museum spaces and the 3rd deck new exhibit area.

Noting the spaces mentioned above, wheelchair and guests utilizing walkers are restricted to Main Deck exterior spaces while on Battleship IOWA. While there are still obstacles such as uneven decking to contend with while on the Main Deck, our wheelchair and guests using walkers can visit our exhibits located during tour operating hours.

The Battleship IOWA is a floating museum ship.  The steepness of the boarding gangways is dependent upon the ocean currents and waves, with higher tides providing a steep ramp incline while boarding.  Accessing the museum at low or mid-tide conditions is much easier to negotiate when using an assisted device such as a walker, wheelchair or even a cane.  An arrival planned around tidal conditions during operating hours is as simple as checking the San Pedro, Ca tide chart:



Visiting the Battleship IOWA can be a very rewarding family experience. Children of all ages are welcome on board. Younger kids love the “Victory the Dog Scavenger Hunt,” and it is available, at no additional cost, at the beginning of your Battleship IOWA Museum experience.

Parents and guardians must supervise children at all times. Running and roughhousing are not permitted while on board.  We point this out this is for safety reasons.  The Battleship will not be damaged if your child falls on the deck, IOWA was built to withstand enemy gunfire and attacks.  However, we do not want your child to suffer the consequences of falling or running into something while on board.  Our staff makes the point, ‘Everything on the IOWA was made stronger than any part of your child’s body!’

Stroller parking is available on board the Battleship IOWA Museum.  The use of strollers is limited to Main Deck exterior spaces only. For small children, we suggest the use of a front carrier (Baby Bjorn-type carrier).  Due to the low overheads (ceilings) around the ships ladders, small children in backpack carriers are subject to hitting their heads as their parents negotiate the stairways which is why we suggest the front-loading carrier.  Adults are not allowed to carry children via stairs unless they are in a carrier. If the child or children are not in a carrier and cannot climb stairs safely on their own, then the child and a guardian must remain on the main deck of the ship.

Designed as a military ship, the Battleship IOWA Museum is a unique, authentic experience in which you traverse the same decks and stairways the sailors did when she was active.

However, please don’t try to act like a sailor by running throughout the ship. The sailors were acclimated to these conditions and were able to move quickly from one part of the ship to another.

If at any time you would like to exit the tour route, please locate a Battleship IOWA crew member and they will assist.

We are actively searching for accessibility funding.

If you are interested, please contact or call 877-446-9261 ext. 709 to discuss the opportunity.

Site developed by Wicked Code, Inc. and funded by The Edward E. & Marie L. Matthews Foundation •  Photos by Rick Stipa Photography
Other photos - US Navy Archives and National Archives

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