Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Battleship Iowa Superstructure and CEC Tour

It wasn't a very long tour, but hoo-boy, did we go up some steep narrow ladders!

Normally, I'm down on the "01" level, which is the main deck, where the radio room is located, so pardon me if I get the deck numbers all mixed up, as these are areas currently not on the tour, and are generally OFF LIMITS unless you have areason to be there.

We went up a couple of ladders, and were at one of the longest passageways on the ship, about 175' long:

Forward, to the end of this passageway, we found a couple of doors, the first with some more artwork by the talented Blair Denning:

The 'gator appears to be holding a sextant, but I don't know the significance of it.

The next door was a "Guest Cabin", and I'm told Admiral Kincaid used it for his at sea quarters:

Finally, we reached the hatch to the Combat Engagement Center (CEC), referred to as "STRIKE" by the people that worked there. I'm not sure of the significance of the curved metal track for the top of the hatch, unless it was just to keep the hatch from swinging open too far:

This is an armored area, as you can see by the thickness of the hatch. I believe it has 3" of armor, not a lot compared to the 17.5" of the Armored Conning Tower!

A lot of history was lost in this area when the Iowa was modernized in the 1980's. Several cabins and staterooms were gutted with no regard to their historical value, but the Iowa was still an active ship at the time, needed massive upgrades, and historical value was not on the list of important things.

This is the stenciling on the hatch leading to the CEC, indicateing it's on the "02" level:

This is the desk the Tactical Affairs Officer (TAO) used. As you can see, it doesn't have much left on it besides the "Red Phones" and some secure voice equipment:

The grey metal frames past the desk are actually holding some clear plastic, and were used a Threat Display Boards, so the crew could keep track of any bad guys determined to be hostile. Off to the right, laying on its side, you can see one of the "Battle Seats" that we've managed to acquire to replace missing equipment in the room.

A LOT of the equipment was stripped from this space, and we're trying locate replacements to get the room is presentable shape to include on the tour route.

I think this was one of the positions the Harpoon missiles were controlled from:

This is one of the radar displays used. Notice it has a Red Phone next to it, along with a rectangular "black box":

There are numerous black boxes of this type, located at or near radar displays, and I was told these were used for the Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) function. I'm sure if I'm wrong I'll be corrected here, and I appreciate it!

Here's two radar displays we were able to acquire from the aircraft carrier USS Ranger, CV-61, before she was released for scrapping. The Ranger also "donated" several of the battle seats seen laying on the floor here. Note the IFF box to the left of the console. There's another IFF box to the right of the rightmost console:

Here's a wider view of this position:

Here's a view to the left od the TAO station. The round dials are repeaters for things like the ship's heading, speed, and weather:

This is a "Navigation Switchboard" for some purpose I don't know, and what appears to be a bank of reel-to-reel tape recorders:

Here's a view to the extreme left of the TAO station, showing more empty equipment positions:

And here's a couple of close-ups of the desk in the left of the above picture:

An "interesting" placard on a desk:

And off to the side of the CEC is an area I'm told was "The Spook Room", now used as a storage area:

Another stripped area, function unknown by myself:

And a lonely looking "Data Terminal Set", function also unknown by myself:

ASnd the backside of the door we came in:

I've got more pix of the inside of the CEC, but we covered so much material while we were in here, I really can't remember what I took pix of!

I've been told that I can make a request to be escorted back up here, and snap away to my heart's content, so I'll have to get one of the "radar guys" we have to take me up there, as they know a lot more about this area than I do. As long as you have permission, and tell Security where you're going, it's generally not a problem to get into some of these areas to look around and take pictures.

There's also a Combat Information Center (CIC) aboard the Iowa, but I'm told that was used mostly before her retrofits and upgrades, and served a secondary function to the CEC, where the ship was "fought from".

And yep, we're missing a TON (or three...) of equipment. The Missouri has a pretty complete CEC, and it's on their tour route, but we have quite a ways to go before we get there.

The Iowa, though, has an almost complete Radio Room and Transmitter Room, so while they have stuff we'd like, we have a lot of stuff they (and the New Jersey and the Wisconsin) would like!

I'll pick this up tomorrow with the "superstructure" part of tour, and visit to "CONN2".


  1. Fascinating. I love these pix, btw, and it definitely makes me think of that '44 destroyer I served on. Also, the curved metal track is indeed to keep the door from swinging back into the panel behind it. And I liked seeing the cryptographers' symbol on the "security area" door. :)

  2. Thanks, I had to go back and look at the picture to see what you meant.

    Almost all the lights (except for the blue ones) are out in that area, so I had some trouble taking pix. I had to get close to some things so the prefocus light on the camera reflected back enough light to get a reading, allowing the shutter to trip.

  3. I often look at your blog and follow the pics/posts about the happenings on the ship. I grew up fascinated by the battleships and the big guns. When i hit 17, I ended up enlisting in the Army since they offered me some more options. Even though I became Army I still liked the I became an artilleryman for the nearly 24 years.

  4. Way cool. A toast to the Iowa and all who preserve her! (And you know how I'll be drinking that toast.)

    1. Thanks, Murph!

      Sometimes it's frustrating trying to get some of the gear working, but it's always worth the effort.

  5. Yep, that's an IFF transmitter, one for each console. It can send AND receive IFF codes. The red phones are secure radiophones, depending on the freq, they might be VHF, UHF or HF... The rectangular box next to the nav radar set is a dead reckoning tracer (DRT), it has a mechanical bug that moved according to those repeaters you pointed out. They laid different charts or blank paper on it to scribe tracks. And that data terminal was probably used for something else... :-)

    1. Yep, and all the Red Phones run to the "Coke Machine" in FACCON, or what we call "Radio Central".

      We're manually tracing out the wiring between several of the red phones so we can eventually patch the receivers and transmitters to them for special event radio use.

      We found the microfiche room a while back. ALL off the microfiche cards are embedded into an IBM punch card, and there's something like 90 THOUSAND cards in the room, covering every aspect of the ship, right down to mundane things like 1/4-20 screws!

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  7. I can believe it! And the door with the gator on it was the Navigator/Quartermaster's space. Probably held charts and other navigation tools, including sextants, sight reduction tables and other stuff for Celestial navigation!

  8. The more time I spend on her, and the more I see, the more I'm in awe at the men who manned her during all her history.

    We've got a microfiche reader now, and one of the guys I work with, who's a retired IBM guy, is trying to find a card reader so we can sort the microfiche cards, and get an index of them.

    Considering the scope that these cards cover, they'd be a valuable resource for us if we knew what was on each card.

  9. The reel to reel recorders were probably used for recording data of CIC scopes and/or radio traffic. We had similar banks of recorders for the tower @ NAS Oceana. One of our (ET's) jobs for duty crew was to replace tapes every morning.

    Btw, the background pic at the top of my blog is one I took of a 15 gun salvo fired from the Iowa, ca.1984 during CENTAM ops. All 9 16in. & 6 5in guns fired simultaneously.

  10. The Reel to reel was probably an RD-397 or RD-379. One was for data and the other for Comms. If have questions about the equipment you are looking at and need more information, please email me at I was an ET in for over 20 years and I am working with a group just like me. I can tell what most of that equipment is and may be able to dig up schematics and wiring diagrams for most of the equipment.

  11. Hi, Dan

    The reel-to-reel recorders were used to record the Air Traffic Control audio. I don't know if they also recorded scope traces.

    This area has undergone significant changes and upgrades since I did this post. One of our guys is an old Hughes Aircraft radar guy, and he knows this stuff very well. Most of the consoles have been replaced, all of the "battle chairs", the lighting is working properly, and numerous other improvements have been made.

    We found two "surplus" CWIS consoles and were able to get them, along with most of the missing radar display consoles. The Tomahawk consoles have been rebuilt, and I think we have enough stuff to finish the Harpoon consoles.

    I ran down some NAB 10-1/2" hubless reels and tape for the Reel-to-Reel recorders, and they're working again. Just needed some cleaning and finding where all the power switches and breakers are.

    Ill have to go back up there and take new pix, The difference is stunning.

    This area will probably be added to the tour route late in 2016 or early 2017, it's come along that far!


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