Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Back On the Horse

Change is in the air tonight. The weatherman promises snow later this week. Since Friday the overnight  temps have trended up, up, up. About 6PM Tuesday I looked at the remote sensors around Donner Summit. They looked promising...the afternoon highs were down from Monday, and the forecast said cooling overnight pending a cold front due Thursday afternoon.

After dinner I sidetracked myself with some WW2 Documentaries on PBS. Before I realized it, it was after 10PM! I looked at Boreal's webcam...yep, they're back in business...snowmaking-wise. I'm sure they're shooting to reopen Friday.

All this nice weather has been seductive...I've been soaking it up...luxuriating the DaveCave. I've got a day or two of chores to be ready for the season, so I'm guilt-free. However, I did miss a big deal down in the Inland Valley.

When SturgeUrge and I go sturgeon fishing, most of the time we launch at Martinez and fish the Mothball Fleet (MBF) on Suisun Bay.

The National Defense Reserve Fleet has been one of America's  retirement villages for America's decommissioned warships since the end of World War Two...and a great sturgeon fishing hole. Most of the MBF ships are troop ships, freighters, tankers and oilers. The fleet gained a distinguished fighting veteran in the spring of 2001, the battleship, USS Iowa.

Launched in August 1942, the Iowa was the first of four Iowa Class fast battleships built in New York and Philadelphia's Naval Shipyards during WW2. The Iowa was the only Iowa Class battlewagon to serve in the Atlantic.

After her maiden shakedown cruise, and two weeks of maintenance, the Iowa ferried President Roosevelt to Casablanca, the first leg of FDR's journey to the Tehran Conference with Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin.

After the Atlantic voyage, the Iowa sailed to the Pacific Theater. USS Iowa fought her way through the Pacific from January 1944 all the way to Tokyo, seeing action in the Marshall Islands, Kwajalein, Eniwetok,  Guam, Saipan, the Marianas, Truk, The Battle of the Philippine Sea, and the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

Iowa survived Typhoon Cobra that devastated Task Force 38. TF 38, seven fleet carriers, six light carriers, eight battleships, 15 cruisers, and about 50 destroyers, was slammed broadside by the typhoon during their attempt to refuel at sea.

Three destroyers capsized and sank with nearly all hands, while a cruiser, five aircraft carriers, and three destroyers suffered serious damage. Almost 800 sailors perished and 80 were injured.

Iowa reported zero injured sailors as a result of the typhoon, but suffered a loss of one of her float planes, and damage to one of her shafts. The damaged shaft required Iowa to return to the US, and she arrived at San Francisco on 15 January 1945, for repairs. During the course of the overhaul Iowa had her bridge area enclosed, and was outfitted with new search radars and fire-control systems. before returning to action.

Iowa's sister ship, the USS Missouri was the site of Japan's formal surrender on Tokyo Bay, Iowa entered Tokyo Bay a day later.

Seen from the water in a small skiff, Iowa is very impressive. To this day you can see the typhoon battered plates of her hull. Low slung and 887ft long, she looks fast even at anchor. Iowa's 16 inch main battery still looks lethal.

Iowa ended up at the MBF after San Francisco's Board of Supervisors passed on berthing her on the San Francisco waterfront as a floating museum. In September 2011, the USS Iowa was awarded to Pacific Battleship Center for placement at the Port of Los Angeles, after some rehab at the Port of Richmond.

Here's what I missed: Last Thursday and Friday Iowa began her journey. Thursday's very high tide was perfect to move her from the fleet and under the three Benicia Bridges. She spent Thursday night side tied to the Subaru Wharf in Benicia before her tow to Richmond on Friday's high tide. Iowa draws 37ft, and Richmond spent a good part of Summer dredging it's Inner Channel.

Iowa will be in Richmond into January. We'll get down there ASAP...while there's still some halibut stragglers still haunting San Francisco Bay!

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