Navy museum

Exhibits at the future National museum of the Surface Navy in San Pedro would include the Navy's role around the world in humanitarian aid and in protecting international waters for trade. (Courtesy Photo, Pacific Battleship Center)

A congressional bill to establish the USS Iowa in San Pedro as a national Navy museum won the backing Tuesday, Oct. 13, of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

The bill, introduced on Sept. 25 by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and U.S. Rep. Nannette Barragan, D-San Pedro, would make the Battleship Iowa the first Surface Navy museum in the country.

Supervisors passed the motion unanimously after hearing several public speakers.

Oct. 13 is recognized as the birthday of the U.S. Navy, which turned 255 this year; the Continental Congress established a seagoing force for the fledgling nation on Oct. 13, 1775.

“What better way to support this motion than on Oct. 13,” said Bruce DD MacRae, a vice president of UPS and a board member on the Battleship Iowa. “That just makes me smile.”

The Surface Navy comprises personnel on all Navy vessels that have traveled on the ocean’s surface since the nation’s founding.

Development of the museum would cost about $60 million and would also entail moving the historic World War II battleship south to the Southern Pacific Slip, where it would be closer to the new waterfront development, recently redubbed West Harbor, expected to open in 2022.

Initial plans have called for the first phase of the new museum to be unveiled in 2023, with a completion date in 2030. Fundraising is ongoing for the museum.

“The USS Iowa is not only a proud piece of Navy history itself,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn, who represents the area, “its second life as a floating museum has taught millions of visitors about the importance of the U.S. Navy and the bravery and sacrifice of the men and women who have served.”

The Iowa has been docked as a popular tourist attraction on San Pedro’s waterfront since 2012.

Hahn authored the motion to back the bill and supported bringing the ship to San Pedro in 2010 while she was the Los Angeles City Council member representing the 15th District.

The supervisors’ motion directs the county’s Washington, D.C., advocates to send letters of support for Senate bill 4683 and House resolution 8369 to Feinstein and Barragan.

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