Page 8 November 22 , 2012 TORRANCE TRIBUNE TerriAnn in Torrance A Visit with the USS Iowa By TerriAnn Ferren the ship are run. At the west end of the ship non-profit organization that wants to save the contact the local Boy and Girl Scout troops. I Last week I attended an event that was (starboard side), I spoke with two energetic ship…and they want to do it in Los Angeles.” am sure they would relish the opportunity to held on the USS Iowa, the battleship that is young ladies, Jennifer Caleca and Tawney Mike told me a good Navy friend he trained spend the night on board a ship! He told me now a museum moored at her new home in Nelson, who have worked on board since in the ‘80s, David Canfield, recruited him to they want to completely open up the entire San Pedro. The USS Iowa, “The Big Stick,” the end of June and since the gala opening help. “In the back of my head I thought we ship to visitors. an engineering masterpiece and one of our on July 7, 2012. “I will be here forever so helped save the ship once--let’s help save the Then we made our way all over the ship. country’s treasures, has served over 70 years long as she the ship is here,” said Jennifer. ship again. So I packed up my stuff, kissed Honestly, as I followed behind Mike down the in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Korea, hosted three “I am a civilian--almost everybody on board my girlfriend good-bye and drove across the narrow hallways and up and down the narrow U.S. Presidents (Franklin Delano Roosevelt, is a civilian. We have hundreds of volunteers country and got here in February and have stairways to the nooks and crannies you can see Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush) and and we have about 20 paid staff.” Both young even though decommissioned could be asked to women told me they love working onboard serve again. She was built from 1939 to 1942 the USS Iowa. and was commissioned in 1943. Walking up Later that evening as I left the ship I felt the gang plank that cold night I was chilled not there was more I wanted to see and know only because of the cold wind, but because of about this fascinating vessel right in our own the history this distinguished ship held within backyard port, so I was fortunate enough to its soul. The night was lovely and as I walked make an appointment with Mike McEnteggart, on the deck, I was intrigued and wanted to learn Public Affairs Officer of the USS Iowa, USS more about this ship. There are four Iowa class Iowa BB-61 from the contact I had with Lou ships--the Iowa, the Jersey, the Missouri and Romero, one of the security guards. the Wisconsin. This vessel (the Iowa) truly is Monday morning came quickly and as I a magnificent example of floating history. And zoomed down the Harbor Freeway to San although the Missouri might be the best known Pedro, I couldn’t help but feel excited to see (because the surrender of WWII happened on this great ship up close once again. Veteran’s its deck) let it be known that the Iowa has won Day is special to me for many reasons. My every contest (competition between the four daddy, my father-in-law, uncles, friends and my ships) against her sisters hands down every time. nephew are veterans and to think I was going Remember all the phrases and expressions we to visit this bit of history on this weekend was learned in school that have a nautical origin? exciting. Turning off Harbor Boulevard toward There’s toe the line, three sheets to the wind, the ship, I saw how the sun was bouncing off taking turns, stranded, stem the tide, leeway, the grand dame. Lots of people were buying Ross Tipps and Mike McEnteggart. Photo by TerriAnn Ferren. knowing the ropes, fluke, deep six, coast is tickets for tours of the ship and I got in line been here ever since,” said Mike. on the tour--and some you can’t--I was amazed clear, clear the deck, and above board, to name to ask for Mike McEnteggart. Standing in line Mike began as part of the volunteer operations by this floating city. Listening to Mike’s ship but a few. And I especially remember studying I met Tim Smith, who shared with me that he team and is now the Public Affairs Officer, stories sounded like something out of a novel. the lives of explorers from the 15th Century. served in Vietnam (1970-1971) and was on USS Iowa BB-61 (civilian). The ship is now a He told me with enthusiasm one time he was As a young girl growing up in Torrance, I holiday from Washington State and wanted museum. But an interesting bit of information on board the USS Iowa and she was going couldn’t imagine someone sailing in a wooden to see the USS Iowa. Mike told me was that the ship is still listed (the equivalent of) 45 miles an hour in the in the Navy records and it (the military) can Atlantic Ocean and he said he could probably In the election, the public narrowly chose to address take her back up to 2020. So technically, the have water-skied behind it the wake was so ship can be deployed and made seaworthy in incredible. “The guns are amazing--they are the concerns of the heart over the concerns of the head. 120 days. That was amazing to me! To think 67 feet long and we have nine of them. It is this ship that is sleeping on the still waters of pretty cool stuff,” said Mike. the harbor could be put into commission was As we made our way over the decks of the ship toward unknown destinations across the An exuberant Mike McEnteggart introduced startling to comprehend. ship, I was privileged to see Mike’s “apartment”- sea to explore new worlds. As I soaked in the himself to me and began by sharing that he The State of Iowa donated $3 million toward -a lieutenant commander’s stateroom. Yes, he history that chilly night, I approached a man served on the USS Iowa from November 5, the refurbishment of the ship. And as a thank lives on board! Mike said, “Sometimes I think, standing near the rail. Mr. Lou Romero told 1985 to December 18, 1989. Born and raised you, anyone from Iowa may tour the ship ‘What are these people doing in my house?’ me he was a security volunteer on board the in Albany, New York, he served in the Navy free. Mike said when he first saw the ship in But I lived on this ship before when I served. USS Iowa and loves what he does. “I have been engineering department (auxiliary-gang) while January, she was a “rust bucket” and the mast But this is a ‘we’ thing--it is not my ship it is working here since late June,” he said. “I live the ship was located in Norfolk, Virginia. Mike was cut off and sitting on the flight deck. To ‘we the people.’” His dedication and enthusiasm in Torrance. This is great. This is fantastic. I went on to share, “There was an explosion on look at the ship, it is hard to imagine how is contagious. Lots of things about this ship I like to explore down below and see the way this ship that killed 47 of my friends on April far she has come from the ghost reserve fleet found incredible. But the most important thing the sailors used to live. And what I think it 19, 1989. I was a firefighter and I was in the of Suisun Bay in Richmond, California to I took away was a sense of awe for those who is really great--before they opened the ship, turret minutes after it exploded. We didn’t save the shining jewel she is now. One of the first have served aboard this grand vessel. Take a they brought in all the veterans who served anybody because we were late by the time we got things they did was to have her painted and day to take the short drive to the USS Iowa on the ship and they had a big reunion. There there. It was an accident. It was an open breach the mast was put back on and things began located right next door in San Pedro. From were thousands who came down. Lots from explosion. There are lots of different opinions to roll. “Our crew is second to none we have the bathroom sinks that were preserved and Iowa…they were here for the dedication, July on how it happened, but all the witnesses are about 200 active volunteers and 1,500 on the nearly frozen in time to the only bathtub on 3 right before the Fourth of July. Lou went on dead…we did save the ship. I looked at the database and a paid staff of 30 and everybody a battleship (because Roosevelt couldn’t take to explain to me the Governor of Iowa attended front of the bow and it was low--really, really loves it,” boasted Mike. a shower) to the old teak deck, this ship is the dedication along with many dignitaries. low--and we had to flood the turret which is Opening day was July 7, 2012 and since that amazing. I asked Mike if he ever got seasick “But the best part was the veterans. There were like a five-story building. By itself it weighs time Mike told me that they have had more and he said, “No, only the Marines get seasick!” 80- and 90-year-old veterans who were here.” as much as a WWII destroyer--just one turret. than 120,000 visitors and he hasn’t heard one Believe it or not, you can rent space on the From the aft of the ship, I decided to make So in essence, you have three WWII destroyers negative comment. He now wants to expand ship for parties, events, receptions, ceremonies my way down the steep metal stairs to the on the ship and that’s just the turrets! We did the education program and have “sleepovers” and concerts. Call 877-446-9261 for information mess, now doubling as a museum area where save the ship. Twenty three years later and we on the ship and tell the story of the ship’s or access www.Pacificbattleship.com. Bon in a small theatre area films of the history of hear about this Pacific Battleship Center, a history. At this point, I told Mike he should voyage! • Battleship IOWA approaches the Benicia-Martinez bridges over the Carquinez Straits. Photo by Bob Fish. Torrance resident Lou Romero working as security on the USS Iowa. Photo by TerriAnn Ferren.
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