USS IOWA B-16 Museum

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



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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 now is the main attraction at The Pacific Battleship Center and operates as a battleship museum. It is open to the public; though 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 well-armed and a formidable foe. Since USS IOWA’s initial commissioning date in 1943, a total of 11,834 16-inch rounds have been fired. Her nick names include “Battleship of Presidents” and “Big Stick.” Presidents used this battleship to travel to important world meetings, and nothing got past this American Pitbull of a battleship.

The USS Iowa BB-61 throughout its years of service was always upgraded to have the newest weapons. There are gun turrets on all sides with missile launchers, machine guns and all the bells and whistles needed on a modern battleship. It also had cruise missiles, and all the modern tools used up to when it was decommissioned and retired.

Many facts and history of the USS Iowa are on display, including many historical pictures.

On the tour, the visitor can see the officers ward room, President Roosevelt’s cabin, armored bridge, missile decks, enlisted berthing, officer’s rooms, mess decks, helicopter deck, and other interesting places to see on board that were part of Navy life.

Besides offering daily tours, The USS Iowa B-16 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 interactive and innovative exhibits.

The USS Iowa B-16 Museum 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.”

It is maintained by a crew of volunteers dedicated to its upkeep and repair. Many visitors come and enjoy climbing all over 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 numerous big guns, heavy armor, fast speed, longevity and modernization, she kept pace with technology for more than 50 years. She earned 8 battle stars because of her service in WW2 and 3 battle stars during the Korean Conflict. The USS Iowa also played a part in the Cold War and Post Cold War. The USS IOWA became a charter member of the famous Pacific Fleet Task Force 58.

The plans for The USS IOWA were drawn up in 1938. She was built in the Brooklyn Naval yards and was launched on August 27th, 1942. Oh my! What a battle asset The USS IOWA proved to be.

On February 22nd, 1943, The USS 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 USS Iowa became the Flagship of Battleship Division 7, joining the USS New Jersey; both making their way to the war effort in the Pacific Theater. USS Iowa made a big difference in eight major battles that happened in the Pacific Theater.

The USS Iowa fired her big guns for the first time in combat during the attack on Japanese base at Truk in the Caroline Islands. The USS Iowa sank the Japanese light cruiser Katori.

During World War 2, The USS Iowa hardly received even a scratch. While smoking Mil Atoll in the Marshall Islands, The USS Iowa was hit by “Japanese projectiles”; (5 inch and 6 inch). The projectiles were no match for the armor of the USS IOWA. “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 USS IOWA participated include: Aitape, Tanahmerah and Humboldt Bays, Ponape, Saipan and Tinian, Battle of Philippine Sea, Philippine and Caroline Islands, Ryukyu Islands, Taiwan and Luzon, and Battle of Leyte Gulf. Also, The USS IOWA jointed USS MISSOURI and USS WISCONSIN in a joint attack on Muroran on Hokkaido; heavily damaged the steel and iron facilities.

The USS Iowa in Japan with USS Missouri 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.”

The USS IOWA received the Battenberg Cup Award as best all-around ship in Atlantic Fleet for 1984.

While The USS IOWA had no damage or death during its many battles, or even a huge storm, 47 men lost their lives on April 19th, 1989, when GunTurret 2 exploded during a training exercise off of Puerto Rico.

The USS IOWA continued serving in various hot spots as protector and deterrent for safe passage of other ships.

Following The Cold War, USS IOWA 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, as IOWA’s new permanent home.



Quick, unexpected deaths that happen on board a Naval Ship can cause spirits of military enlisted personnel to continue on in their service, enjoying their after-life on their assigned duty ship. Men who served and died together may still want to continue even while in spirit form.

In 1987, forty-seven men were violently 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, there is a memorial and a plague honoring the men who died in this accident.

People who suffer injustice 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 that the explosion had been caused by the over-ram of powder into the breech.

In spite of this, the second Navy investigation doubled down on the original finding that the explosion had been intentionally set by Hartwig. However 17 months later, hard evidence was provided that proved that the explosion was indeed caused by the over-ram of powder into the breech after they were able to replicate the condition several times under test conditions.

While the Navy walked back their accusation, they never admitted to wrong doing. The accused seaman who was said to have an affair with Hartwig, suffered from this false accusation and probably ended his Navy career.

Spirits who die in accidents, sometimes try to relive what happened before they died, trying to stop the accident from happening.

The spirit of Hartwig and other crew may be trying to load the powder again to stop the explosive accident that had killed them all and caused so much pain for their families.



While official paranormal investigations have not started yet, visitors who come on board with a recorder may have caught some voices. When the overnight program is started, paranormal groups will probably come and investigate.

Staff and visitors have had pleasant, personal experiences letting them know that spirits are still serving on board.

Friendly Spirits Still On Duty

The USS Iowa Battleship is home to some friendly, BENIGN spirits still on duty.

Though I can’t find anything on line that describes specifically of the personal experiences with these spirits, volunteers acknowledge that the spirits are there. Possible activity could include visual sightings, cold spots, hearing voices, experiencing being the source of spectral chuckles, playing with electricity, and feeling spectral, encouraging company, interested in the repair projects.

Spirit Ready to Help

Some spirits even jump to action when trouble looms.

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 some friendly and helpful spirits.

Surely, these spirits have found some comfort in the lovely memorial and plague commemorating their violent accidental deaths. They perhaps 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

Haunts in California