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Battleship Iowa glimpsed from San Pedro

The ship will open to the public July 7 as an interactive museum.

May 31, 2012|By Kim Christensen, Los Angeles Times

San Pedro's Lookout Point Park was the place to be Wednesday morning to catch a glimpse of the battleship Iowa as it headed for its new home at the Port of Los Angeles.

Well, it was for a little while, anyway.

"It was right out there, but the fog is eating it up again right now," said Stan Webber, one of about a dozen spectators gathered at the popular Gaffey Street spot overlooking the port.

Webber, 60, who works in transportation in the television industry, had his camera and binoculars ready when he showed up at 6:30 a.m. to await the arrival of the 887-foot-long ship, which was being towed from San Francisco.

"You can't miss the profile," he said after getting a look at the 69-year-old vessel before it disappeared into the haze. "It's unmistakable. It's awesome."

The Iowa dropped anchor Wednesday about three miles offshore, where divers will clean its hull of contaminants and invasive species before it is permanently anchored at Berth 87 on June 9. The ship will open to the public July 7 as an interactive museum.

Vietnam War and Navy veteran Mark Gamache, 62, had festooned his car with the Stars and Stripes and other flags, including one commemorating POWs and MIAs and another boosting the Dodgers.

He said he'd been tracking the ship since it began its four-day voyage from the Bay Area.

"Once you've been on a big ship, you get an excitement about big ships," he said. "I've got goose bumps I'm so excited about this coming in today."

San Pedro resident Karen Mikkelsen said she drove over to the Palos Verdes Peninsula early Wednesday in hopes of seeing the big ship pass. When that didn't work out, she raced back to Lookout Point. By 8 a.m., she was still hoping for a glimpse.

"I want to see what one of these looks like out on the ocean, not tied up in port," she said. "But it's going to be parked out there for a while, so I can come down and see it anytime. And I will."

Webber and others at the point said they considered the battleship's arrival a historic moment.

"It's the last of its kind," Webber said. "This could be the last battleship we'll ever see in the open ocean. It's kind of like seeing the last T-Rex being taken to the zoo."

kim.christensen@latimes.com

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