Battleship USS Iowa is affectionately nicknamed the Battleship of Presidents primarily due to her role in welcoming several Commander-in-Chiefs during her long storied history. In 1943, a bathtub was installed for the use of President Franklin D. Roosevelt during his voyage to the Tehran Conference. The ship hosted numerous dignitaries including the South Korean President in the 1950’s followed by welcoming Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush aboard in the 1980’s. Today, the Battleship USS Iowa Museum continues to serve as an important symbol of American democracy in Los Angeles. The crew proudly welcomes aboard hundreds of thousands of guests aboard annually to see where these President’s once stood, dined, and bathed.
On 12 November 1943, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt boarded the USS Iowa from the Presidential yacht USS Potomac at the mouth of the Potomac River. The President’s party included Presidential Advisor Harry Hopkins and the Joint Chiefs of Staff for a secret meeting with Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin at the Tehran Conference.
“Perhaps, indeed, these vessels embody our conception of liberty itself: to have before one no impediments, only open spaces; to chart one’s own course and take the adventure of life as it comes; to be free as the wind – as free as the tall ships themselves. It’s fitting, then, that this procession should take place in honor of Lady Liberty.”
“We join today in mourning for the 47 who perished and in thanks for the 11 who survived. They all were, in the words of a poet, the men behind the guns. They came from Hidalgo, Texas; Cleveland, Ohio; Tampa, Florida; Costa Mesa, California. They came to the Navy as strangers, served the Navy as shipmates and friends, and left the Navy as brothers in eternity. In the finest Navy tradition, they served proudly on a great battleship, U.S.S. Iowa.
And your men are under a different command now, one that knows no rank, only love, knows no danger, only peace. May God bless them all.”