The battleship USS Iowa is pushed by tugboats stern first under the Benicia-Martinez bridge on Suisun Bay Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011, in Benicia, Calif. After resting in the Suisun Bay Reserve "mothball fleet" for a decade, the famous battleship is taking the first leg of its journey to southern California, where the Pacific Battleship Center intends to transform the vessel into an interactive museum permanently based at Berth 87 in Los Angeles. The Iowa will be towed to Richmond, Calif., on Friday for significant refurbishment until at least the end of the year and possibly through the first part of 2012 before the move south. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
The Iowa, which represents the peak of naval military power in an era from Franklin Roosevelt to George H.W. Bush, was nudged by tugs from its decade-long spot amid the Navy's fleet of retired ships.
In a carefully timed maneuver, the ship towed at a seasonal extreme high tide, the only way short of dredging that would allow the ship to pass beneath three bridges, one of which didn't exist when it was sent to storage in 2001.
The Iowa, the lead ship of its class of the biggest, fastest and most powerful battleships ever to sail, is also the last battleship to find a permanent spot for retirement. Its sister ships are museums: the Missouri, at Pearl Harbor; the Wisconsin, in Norfolk, Va., and the New Jersey, in Camden. The Navy no longer has battleships in its fleet.
"This is the world's last battleship's final voyage," said Robert Kent, president of the Pacific Battleship Center, after signing papers allowing the group to take custody of the ship from the U.S. government early Thursday, just hours before the scheduled noon departure.
"There are no more," said Kent, standing on the ship's warped wooden main deck. "This is the close of a chapter, the chapter of battleships."