Saturday November 9, 2013 - San Pedro, CA - Picked up my long time friend Marty in Lomita and headed back to San Pedro about 11:00 AM to check out the Veterans Appreciation Day festivities at the USS Iowa. Marty had never been on the big battleship that was opened to the public back in December 2011. Just two 63 year boys headed out for a day of fun.
It was a beautiful warm sunny morning when we arrived at the dock and found ample parking right next to the event. Our local politicians along with other dignitaries welcomed everyone. Afterwards the live band pumped out the music.
We were enjoying the scenery and looking forward to boarding the ship to give Marty a real up close view of the guns from the fantail. We ground to a halt at the bottom of the long gangway where we asked the security officer for "permission to board."
We were told, along with another couple, that the Iowa was not ADA compliant. Marty you see lost both his legs to illness a few years ago and is confined to a wheel chair.
The security officer went on to explain that wheel chairs could not be allowed on board due to security concerns. In all fairness to the officer I think he meant to say "safety" concerns not "security concerns." Marty and I were certainly no threat to security.
A radio call was made to a superior who showed up pretty quickly and confirmed that we would not be allowed to board. Considering what I'd read about the Iowa I was pretty amazed that we couldn't at least be allowed to view the main deck. After all, FDR had been able to sail aboard the ship. Almost like his own "Love Boat."
Wikipedia - During World War II, she [USS Iowa] carried President Franklin D. Roosevelt across the Atlantic to Mers El Kébir, Algeria, en route to a crucial 1943 meeting in Tehran with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Josef Stalin. She [USS Iowa] has a bathtub — an amenity installed for Roosevelt, along with an elevator to shuttle him between decks.
While I'd been fortunate enough to go aboard the USS Missouri with my family a few years ago in Long Beach (the Missouri is one of the Iowa's sister ships and is now docked in Pearl Harbor, HI) Marty had not yet had the opportunity to see one of these ships up close.
Well, we made the best of things and headed up to San Pedro Brewing Co. for lunch. Marty was ok with our day out but just couldn't understand the concept of a Veterans event that couldn't accommodate wheel chairs. He thinks the two are synonymous - wheel chairs/veterans - veterans/wheel chairs.
As I now read the fine print on the USS Iowa's website at pacificbattleship.com, I must confess that I missed the part where it clearly states::
USS IOWA is not currently ADA accessible. However, accessibility for disabled guests will be improved over the next year.
There are many obstacles on the ship such as uneven decking, high door frames and many sets of stairs that are safety hazards. For that reason, no wheelchairs are allowed aboard the ship and those using canes and walkers should use extra caution.