Our Story

Our Story

Battleship USS Iowa was saved by the Pacific Battleship Center in 2011. Opening in 2012, the crew has quickly grown the ship into a top 5 museum in Los Angeles. The organization’s mission has evolved to fulfill the needs of the community and is excited about the next transition to the National Museum of the Surface Navy at the Battleship IOWA. We hope you enjoy our story and consider supporting us by donating or volunteering.

We ignite curiosity, connect communities, and enhance understanding of America’s role in maritime peace and prosperity.
To inspire global awareness of freedom of the seas.



1.0 About the Pacific Battleship Center dba Battleship USS Iowa Museum

Entering service more than 75 years ago, the USS Iowa deployed to the South Pacific in the early years of World War II. The iconic battleship served with distinction in that war, and later during the Korean War. In the 1990s, as the Berlin Wall crumbled, the IOWA concluded her active duty. Battleship USS Iowa now serves as a 501c3 non-profit historic naval ship museum and is supported solely by earned revenues, individual donations, corporate foundations, and philanthropic organizations. Forged in war and a guardian of peace, the proud ship is the sentinel of the Los Angeles Waterfront.

IOWA’s teak decks and steel bulkheads echo the words and deeds of history, having carried upon them three U.S. Presidents, six of the nine American five-star military leaders, countless foreign dignitaries, and thousands of her own heroic IOWA sailors. Visitors are awed by the IOWA’s proud legacy as one of the fastest and most powerful ships to ever sail the world’s oceans. Battleship IOWA Museum will become the National Museum of the Surface Navy by 2025.  The Battleship IOWA Museum is open 7 days per week from 10:00am to 4:00pm and closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

1.1 An Evolving Vision

The Battleship IOWA Museum tells the stories of historically significant, but relatively unknown vessels. The story focuses on a single ship within one class of ships—battleships. Yet, the public’s interest has evolved to include a broader story, now exploring America’s modern surface fleet. IOWA is certainly an iconic artifact in this chronicle but it represents only a portion of the larger narrative.

Goals of IOWA’s expansion into the National Museum of the Surface Navy include:

  • Educate the public in the Navy’s mission of maintaining freedom of the seas.
  • Illustrate how the modern Surface Navy protects American interests from external threats.
  • Show the Surface Navy’s role in securing and maintaining strong international relations.

The first two steps to achieving this Evolving Vision is to determine the concept and then the plan of how IOWA’s unique spaces will tell this story. Once complete, management intends using the concept and the plan to bring together the internal and external support needed in obtaining the funds required.

IOWA’s Evolving Vision allows the Surface Navy to tell its story as an official United States Navy museum. Repurposing certain of IOWA’s spaces achieves  for the Surface Navy what the National Naval Aviation Museum,  the Submarine Force Library &  Museum, and the USS Nautilus achieve for Naval aviation and submarines.

IOWA’s Evolving Vision displays the Navy’s remarkable collection of artifacts, provides a hugely effective recruiting tool, and reminds visitors of the Navy’s various roles worldwide.

1.2 Existing Facility and Site

The Battleship IOWA Museum is located at Port of Los Angeles Berth 87, adjacent to the World Cruise Terminal. The Battleship IOWA Museum is the first pearl in the string of pearls to bring alive the LA Waterfront as a travel destination. The Port of Los Angeles has invested over $200 million in revitalizing the waterfront in recent years.

Throughout the 19th century San Pedro Bay was home to the Pacific fleet. This was Battleship Country owing to the Navy’s home porting of a majority of the battleship fleet prior to World War 2. Then in 1941 the Navy moved its battleships to Pearl Harbor. The Long Beach Naval Base and Shipyard eventually closed in 1997.

Journey to a New Home

The Navy donated Battleship IOWA to the Pacific Battleship Center (a 501c3 non-profit organization) on September 6, 2011. The Pacific Battleship Center relocated IOWA from the Maritime Reserve Fleet in Suisun Bay, CA to the Port of Richmond, CA and eventually to the Port of Los Angeles. The Battleship IOWA Museum officially opened to the public at berth 87 on July 4, 2012.

The Battleship IOWA Museum is a co-founding partner of L A Fleet Week, the largest Military/Veterans event in Los Angeles, held every Labor Day weekend. LA Fleet Week has revived public/military engagement through its innovative programs and opportunities for interaction with the ships and those who serve aboard them.

IOWA ranks among the top five Los Angeles area museums and tourist destinations. It serves as a platform for numerous education, military, veterans, and community programs. IOWA has welcomed millions of visitors since its opening. In January 2019 the Navy designated the Pacific Battleship Center as the National Museum of the Surface Navy in a public/private partnership.

1.3 Existing Tour Experience

The Battleship IOWA Museum focuses its visitors’ experiences on a journey through history utilizing an app downloaded to guests’ mobile phones. The content is battleship-centric and covers the beginning of the ship’s service in 1943 to its final decommissioning in 1990. The self-guided tour begins with an overview walk of the vessel and ends in the main museum with exit through the gift shop (Ship’s Store). In between, guests walk through six decks of operational areas highlighting weapons systems, navigation, and “city at sea” spaces. The static exhibits, graphics, artifacts, and interactive content illustrate the ship’s service and participation in three wars: WWII, Korean War, and the Cold War.

Specific Tours & Exhibits Include:

  • General admission tour that includes six decks of the ship and is guided by either static signage or the mobile app.
  • “Victory the Dog” scavenger hunt, an activity targeting young guests and following the ship’s WWII mascot throughout the ship with a special prize at the end.
  • Special tours including the Full Steam Ahead engineering tour and the personalized Big Stick VIP Experience.
  • Naval Gunnery Incidents at sea detailing the dangerous work aboard US Navy warships throughout history.
  • Lost at Sea experience focuses on Dr. Robert Ballard’s oceanographic discoveries and the human impact of these wartime shipwrecks.
  • Alfa Romeo Tango (ART) gallery highlights the work of local artists, especially those with an affinity for historic warships.
  • Virtual Reality experiences, located in a mobile trailer, allow use as an outreach medium.

1.4 Impactful Programs: Education, Veterans, and Community

Pacific Battleship Center dba Battleship USS Iowa Museum is not only a museum, but a community platform for impactful programs.  We have three core pillars of programs: education, veterans, and community.

Education Programs
Our inspirational education programs primarily focus on providing career inspiration with STEM/STEAM focus presented in an environment illustrating practical application of lessons learned.  We offer field trips, overnights, and virtual learning experiences for children of all ages to learn and have fun.

Military & Veterans Programs
The ship is natural platform for veterans and patriotic civilians to come together as a community. The comradery nourished and built provides an incredible support network to all involved. The three pillars of veterans programs and services aboard the museum focus on honor, community, and prosperity.  We are proud to host numerous active and reserve military ceremonies, retirements, commissioning’s, pinning’s, and volunteer service days annually.

Community Programs
Our community pillar focuses on supporting public safety exercises, fundraising activities for local organizations, socialization activities, and community development. Since opening in 2012, we have supported numerous local organizations with complimentary space usage and donated experiences. The museum has attracted the attention of millions of people across the world to San Pedro, CA. This attention continues to contribute to the significant growth in the local economy. The staff and volunteers of the Battleship USS Iowa museum are proud of their role in supporting the community.


Battleship USS Iowa and USNS Mercy
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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