SAN PEDRO, Calif. – The USS Iowa is the only remaining battleship on the continental West Coast of the United States.
After three wars and decades of service, the Iowa was retired in 1990. It has a lot to show for its decades of service and historian Dave Way knows all about it.
Way has been working on the museum ship for almost eight years. He’s given countless tours, some to Navy veterans.
“Oh we love it. We absolutely love keeping the ship open for them. It’s almost like a sacred duty so to speak,” said Way.
The Iowa was one of the last battleships ever made. They stopped manufacturing them after World War II.
But if it weren’t for Way’s efforts, the Iowa might have ended up in the scrap yard. In 2011 he turned in a nearly 1,200-page proposal to convince the Navy the decommissioned battleship would be better off as a museum. A year later it opened to the public.
You could say Way has spent his whole life preparing for this job. He’s always loved building model ships and studying their history.
He grew up in Long Beach and used to work on the Queen Mary. His love for these huge ships started young.
“The one and only time my parents pulled me out of school when I was in junior high school was when the New Jersey came out for the Vietnam war and I was pulled out of school to watch her come in,” said Way.
Each Memorial Day, the war ship transforms into a place for tribute and celebration. There’s a commemoration ceremony to honor those who have served starting at 10:00 a.m. Then dancing and music lasts until 3:00 p.m.
It’s going to be a busy day for this vessel, but she’s seen plenty of action in the past and should be up to the task.
For Way meanwhile, it’s another chance to share the compelling story of the USS Iowa, the last great remaining battleship on the continental West Coast.