SAN PEDRO (CBS) — The USS Iowa will have a permanent home at the Port of Los Angeles, after a unanimous vote Thursday by the Los Angeles Harbor Commission approving a lease agreement and an environmental report for the historic battleship.

The USS Iowa is scheduled to leave Richmond in Northern California, where it has been undergoing restoration work, Sunday and is due to arrive in San Pedro on May 24.

The ship will anchor between the breakwater harbor for several days while crews clean the ship’s hull. The battleship will then be towed to a temporary berth before it drops anchor permanently at Berth 87. The USS Iowa will become a permanent museum and is scheduled to open to the public on July 7.

“Los Angeles is thrilled to welcome a national treasure that has served our nation so faithfully for so long,” Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said. “It is with great pride that our city, our port and our community say ‘Welcome Home’ to the USS Iowa.”

The 887-foot-long vessel, known as the “Big Stick,” has a storied past. It ferried President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his top military advisers to and from the Tehran Conference in advance of World War II. It later served in the Pacific Fleet, shelling beachheads in the Marshall Islands. The ship was at the battle of Okinawa and was among the first to enter Tokyo Bay after Japan’s surrender.

In 1989, during a training mission off Puerto Rico, the 16-inch gun in Turret No. 2 exploded, killing 47 sailors, and the ship was decommissioned the next year.

The nonprofit Pacifica Battleship Center raised about $9 million to move and restore the ship, including $3 million from the state of Iowa. The group took out another $5 million in loans and raised the rest through donations and pro bono work.

The ship museum plans to offer overnight stays and at least five tours, including tours focusing on life at sea, engineering and armor, and tours of the ship’s weapons.

Navy veterans who served on the World War II-era battleship are scheduled to hold a reunion in San Pedro over the July 4th holiday in conjunction with the grand opening of the ship’s reincarnation as a new floating museum.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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