Shortly after sunrise Wednesday, the USS Iowa should appear on San Pedro's horizon as it is towed to an anchorage about 3 miles south of the Long Beach breakwater. All Things USS Iowa
Spotting it from shore at that distance might be difficult.
So dozens of spectators and media outlets were scrambling on Tuesday to rent boats and helicopters to get a first look at
Excitement over the ship's long-awaited arrival hit a fever pitch Tuesday as boat rentals spiked amid some confusion over the Iowa's projected arrival time.
After all, it's not every day that a battleship is seen in local waters.
"It even seemed like some of the merchant ships at sea were coming in close to take a look at her based on what we were seeing," said Capt. Dick McKenna of the Marine Exchange of Southern California in San Pedro, which tracked the ship's route south from San Francisco on its computer
And for San Pedro residents, there's a lot riding on this particular ship: The USS Iowa, along with other waterfront developments, is viewed as something that can finally give the town tourist destination status.
"It's the huge game changer for the economy in San Pedro," said local insurance agent William Scott Carter, who launched a "Bring the USS Iowa to San Pedro" Facebook page two years ago.
The Crowley tug Warrior, which along with three other tugs has towed the ship from San Francisco, will be met by another tug at 7 a.m. and led to the anchorage site by 8 a.m. Wednesday.
Based on the activity seen Tuesday, it appeared that dozens of small and large craft, including media boats, will bob around the Iowa on Wednesday as helicopters hover overhead.
"I don't want to say it's helter skelter, but it's every man for himself," McKenna said. "There's a lot of excitement."
"Those who have access to sailboats and power boats will probably want to go out there to check it out," Carter said. "There's going to be plenty of room out there, it's an ocean."
For now, spectators can look - but not touch.
The U.S. Coast Guard has designated a 100-yard safety zone
Getting a good look at the Iowa from land while the ship sits anchored several miles offshore might be difficult, McKenna said.
"In the early mornings we usually have a lot of haze so I don't think it's going to be terribly impressive looking out there at this juncture," he said.
"The ship is very low-slung anyway so I'm afraid some people are going to take a look and say, `Is that it?' You really have to have it a little closer to see how imposing and how majestic these things are."
The tow, which began Saturday in San Francisco, went a little too quickly for some.
The ship originally was expected to reach northern Los Angeles County waters sometime around noon on Wednesday.
The SS Lane Victory, the World War II Merchant Marine ship based in San Pedro, sold $250 tickets to meet and escort the ship back to the San Pedro-Long Beach area.
The timing of the Lane's daylong cruise couldn't be changed due to catering plans.
"The Iowa came in way too fast," said Anthony Broude, president of the Lane Victory's board of directors, who had to juggle plans at the last minute on Tuesday.
"But I'm a military man myself, served 24 years," Broude said. "You always go in with a backup."
The cruise now will take passengers around the ship in anchorage, travel north a while, then return for another spin around the Iowa.
"This was Plan B, so to speak," he said.
Excitement over the Iowa's impending arrival ran higher than Ed Steiner expected, even among the niche fans of the historic tall ships. The event coordinator for the Los Angeles Maritime Institute and the city's official tall ships based in San Pedro, Steiner said the tall ships will help escort the Iowa once it enters the breakwater - expected to occur sometime this weekend depending on how long the hull cleaning takes.
"My family in Denver said, `Hey, we heard about your battleship,"' Steiner said.
After the hull is cleaned, the Iowa will be towed inside the Los Angeles breakwater and docked temporarily at Berth 50-51 in San Pedro's outer harbor.
On June 9, the ship will make its grand entrance into the Main Channel and dock at Berth 87, its permanent site. It is near the port's fireboat display and just south of the Fanfare Fountain along Harbor Boulevard.
The ship will open for tours to the public on July 7.
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