USS IOWA B-16 Museum

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A violent explosion in Turret 2 was the start of paranormal activity in 1987.



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The USS Iowa was a state-of-the-art battleship that was a vital part of Naval operations from 1943-1993. It is now the main attraction at The Pacific Battleship Center and operates as a battleship museum. It is open to the public, but you should be prepared to use narrow, steep stairs meant for young people serving their country.


This battleship has the largest guns (16″/50 caliber) on a U.S. Navy ship, making it a well-armed and formidable foe. Since its initial commissioning in 1943, a total of 11,834 16-inch rounds have been fired from her guns. Her nicknames include “Battleship of Presidents” and “Big Stick.” Presidents have used it to travel to important world meetings.

Through its service this pitbull of a battleship was always upgraded with the newest weapons. There are gun turrets on all sides with cruise missile launchers, machine guns, and all the necessary bells and whistles.

On the tour, visitors can see historical pictures of the officers ward room, President Roosevelt’s cabin, the armored bridge, missile decks, enlisted berthing, officer’s rooms, mess decks, the helicopter deck, among many other interesting places that were part of Navy life.

Besides offering daily tours, The USS Iowa Museum offers “group programs, education visits, special events, filming, military ceremonies, and is in the process of starting an overnight program.” Most popular are the ship’s innovative interactive exhibits.

It has been a film location for movie productions and TV shows, including NCIS: Los Angeles, American Warships, Bermuda Tentacles, and Dark Rising.


More About The Pacific Battleship Center

“Pacific Battleship Center is a registered 501(c) (3) non-profit organization and receives no funding from the City or County of Los Angeles, the State of California, or the federal government. The State of Iowa is instrumental in the preservation of the Battleship Iowa and telling its story and provided $3,000,000 to the startup operation of the Pacific Battleship Center.”

“Pacific Battleship Center relies on admissions, memberships, and donations from corporations and individual donors. Donations and sponsorships go towards the start-up and expansion of a variety of programs including education, museum, tours, and long-term preservation & restoration.”

The battleship is maintained by a crew of volunteers dedicated to its upkeep and repair. Many visitors come and enjoy exploring the different levels, amazed at the size and capabilities of this retired Flagship of the Navy.



Designated the “World’s Greatest Naval Ship” due to her heavy guns, armor, speed, longevity and modernization, the USS Iowa kept pace with evolving military technology for more than 50 years. She earned eight battle stars for her service in WW2 and three battle stars during the Korean Conflict. She also played a part in the Cold War and Post Cold War, and became a charter member of the famous Pacific Fleet Task Force 58.

Plans for the USS Iowa were drawn up in 1938. She was built in the Brooklyn Naval yards and launched on August 27th, 1942. Oh my! And what a battle asset she proved to be.

On February 22nd, 1943, The Iowa started her career in the war effort in the Atlantic, with 151 officers, and 2637 enlisted sailors. “The assignment called the “Tirpitz Watch” (a German battleship) contributed to the neutralization of the threat presented by that warship then poised in Norwegian waters.”

In January of 1944, The Iowa became the Flagship of Battleship Division 7, joining the USS New Jersey. Both made their way to the Pacific Theater. Once there, The Iowa made a big difference in eight major battles.

She fired her big guns for the first time in combat during the attack on the Japanese base at Truk in the Caroline Islands, sinking the light cruiser Katori.

Amazingly, The Iowa received hardly a scratch in the war. While smoking Mil Atoll in the Marshall Islands, she was hit by five and six inche “Japanese projectiles”, but they were no match for her armor. “The 6 inch projectile hit Turret 2 and the 5 inch projectile hit the hull plating, neither of which caused significant damage.”

Other Pacific War battles that The Iowa participated in include those at Aitape, Tanahmerah and Humboldt Bays, Ponape, Saipan and Tinian, the Battle of the Philippine Sea, the Philippine and Caroline Islands, the Ryukyu Islands, Taiwan and Luzon, and the Battle of Leyte Gulf. She joined The USS Missourit and The USS Wisconsin in a joint attack on Muroran in Hokkaido; heavily damaging Japanese steel and iron facilities.

With the USS Missouri she cruised into Sagami Bay in July of 1945 to “effect the surrender of Yokosuka Naval District. USS IOWA and USS MISSOURI entered Tokyo Bay in support of landing of occupation forces to take place next day.”

From 1982 through 1989, The USS Iowa “practiced various training exercises and drills before heading to sea to monitor the United States’ southern coastline in case of an attack.”

In 1984 she received the Battenberg Cup Award as best all-around ship in the Atlantic Fleet.

While she suffered no damage or death during her many battles, 47 men nevertheless lost their lives on April 19th, 1989, when GunTurret 2 exploded during a training exercise off of Puerto Rico.

After that tragedy, The Iowa continued serving in various hot spots around the world as protector and deterrent for the safe passage of other ships.

Following The Cold War, she returned to the naval base at Norfolk and received a Turret Two Memorial plaque. She was decommissioned on October 26, 1994.

On November 18th, 2018, Port of Los Angeles Harbor commissioners voted unanimously for Berth 87 in San Pedro Harbor, Los Angeles, to be made The Iowa’s new permanent home.



Quick, unexpected deaths aboard a Naval Ship can cause the spirits of military enlisted personnel to continue their service, in their afterlife on their assigned ship. Men who served and died together may still want to continue that way even in spirit form.

In 1987, forty-seven men were incinerated when a routine gun drill in Turret 2 went horribly wrong, exploding back into the turret. “The explosion, which began in the gunpowder charge of the center gun, spread through the three gun rooms and much of the lower levels of the turret.”

On the USS Iowa, a memorial and a plaque honor the men who died in this accident.

People who suffer injustices in this world, sometimes can’t rest when they enter the spirit world.

The Navy’s investigations were quick to blame one of the crew member victims, Clayton Hartwig, who they said had deliberately caused the explosion because of a homosexual relationship with a fellow crew member that went awry.

A group of engineers and scientists however thought the explosion had been caused by the over-ram of powder into the breech.

A second Navy investigation doubled down on the original finding. However, 17 months later, hard evidence came to light that proved that the explosion was indeed caused by the over-ram of powder after researchers were able to replicate the condition several times under test conditions.

While the Navy walked back their accusation, they never admitted to wrongdoing. The accused seaman said to have had the affair with Hartwig suffered from this false accusation.

Spirits who die in accidents, sometimes try to relive them before they died, in efforts to stop them from happening.

The spirits of Hartwig and the other crewmen may still be trying to load the powder, properly, in order to stop the fatal accident that had caused so much pain for their families.



While official paranormal investigations have not started yet, visitors who come on board with recorder smay have caught voices. When overnight programs start, paranormal groups will probably come and investigate.

Staff and visitors have had pleasant, personal experiences which have led them to believe that spirits are still serving on board.

Friendly Spirits Still On Duty

The USS Iowa is home to friendly, benign spirits who are still on duty.

Though I can’t find anything online that specifically describes peoples’ personal experiences with these spirits, volunteers acknowledge that they are there.

Possible activity could include visual sightings, cold spots, voices, the sense by witnesses of being the source of spectral chuckles, strange electrical activity, and feelings of being in encouraging spectral company.

Spirits Ready to Help

Some spirits even jump into action when trouble looms.

In once case, a wayward, clumsy ship visitor was pulled to safety by a cold unseen hand when he nearly fell off a top deck.


Apparently so! Personal experiences of staff and visitors strongly point to the presence of friendly and helpful spirits.

Surely, these spirits have found comfort in the lovely memorial and plaque commemorating their deaths. Perhaps they still want to enjoy their home in the Navy, and find ways to be helpful when needed, from keeping workers company to saving clumsy visitors.




250 S Harbor Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90731

The USS Iowa Battleship Museum is permanently docked at Berth 87 in the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro, California at the PACIFIC BATTLESHIP CENTER.



Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr

Our Photos are copyrighted by Tom Carr

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