November 23, 2018

Crew Art - USS Iowa

While I often focus on the battleship as a machine, it would be a mistake to neglect the men who ran them. I've previously talked about life aboard Iowa, but one interesting aspect I did not discuss was the art created by the crew.

A mural in the Chief Petty Officer's1 quarters, known as the Goat Locker2

There are many pieces of art scattered around the ship. Some of them were in the most public areas, such as the mess decks and wardroom.

A mural showing Iowa and a Ticonderoga class cruiser on the port mess line.

A partially-restored mural of the Pacific in Iowa's wardroom.

The ship's crest on a pillar in the mess deck.

A painting in the forward mess area.

Another popular area to decorate was a group's berthing spaces. The crew was split into divisions; each division was responsible for a specific function, ranging from a main gun turret to the radio to damage control.

A mural in the GM division berthing space. GM division was responsible for the Tomahawk and Harpoon missiles and the CIWS. This was painted by John Christian Merrill, and a photo of him with it can be found here.

The berthing spaces of R division, responsible for damage control. Below is the original mural, ordered altered for obvious reasons.

Other men decorated their workspaces. Doors made popular canvases.

Another group that put effort into art was the crew of Engine Room 2.

A painting at the top of the ladder down to Engine 2.3

The last crew to decommission Iowa signed their names to the gearbox.

The art aboard Iowa provides a fascinating window into the daily lives of the men who sailed aboard her. Besides their efforts to fight the ship and live, they took the time to customize their environments, showing their pride in their ship and their unit, and also their interest in the (absent) opposite sex.

1 Navy senior enlisted, equivalent to senior sergeants in other services. It's widely known that the Chiefs run the Navy, and merely allow officers to drive their ships about.

2 The name supposedly originates from the days of sail, when goats were kept in the chief's quarters, because they could be trusted not to eat the goats before they were supposed to. All pictures mine, unless otherwise noted.

3 These last two photos are courtesy of The Fatherly One.


  1. November 23, 2018doctorpat said...

    I'm assuming these paintings are not on canvas or other flammable material?
    Given the previously mentioned efforts to remove all wooden furniture from the ships.

  2. November 23, 2018bean said...

    I believe all of them are on metal bulkheads.

  3. April 06, 2021Jon Christian Merrill said...

    I have a Polaroid,yes i did say Polaroid.My brother is trying to get it on the page.Any suggestions?

  4. April 06, 2021bean said...

    Email me at battleshipbean at gmail.

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