January 15, 2020

Pictures - Iowa Enlisted Quarters

It's been a while since I did a selection from my pictures of the greatest ship ever built. This time, it's pictures of the enlisted quarters aboard ship. Unfortunately, these are all of Iowa in her 80s fit, as the WWII spaces have all been renovated. Restoring one may be on the agenda, but it hasn't happened yet.

Me in one of the bunks. They can be tricky to get in and out of, particularly for first-timers. Note the "coffin rack" on the bottom, open to show one of the major storage spaces for a sailor's gear.1

A section of berths deep in the ship. Many of these compartments can be rather labyrinthine. This is a part of the ship where the deckhead is rather low, so only the bottom rack has the "coffin" storage, while the other two have extra lockers elsewhere to compensate for the lack of storage space. In areas with higher decks, all three will have coffins.

The berthing spaces each have small common areas, like this one for GM division, responsible for missiles and the CIWS.

A water fountain installed in one of the berthing compartments.

One of the water-chilled AC units installed in the 80s. The Z indicates that something in the unit had to be secured when in Condition Zulu (fully buttoned up for battle).

The Marine berthing is under the armored deck, wrapped around the barbette for Turret 3. It's painted in camo, possibly because Marines are easily confused when not in familiar environments, or possibly to mark their territory.

The biggest difference between Marine berthing and regular enlisted berthing is the provision of extra lockers for storage of their field gear.

The cabin of Iowa's Command Master Chief, her senior enlisted man and the only one who had his own cabin.

One of Iowa's enlisted heads, specifically, the one on Second Deck that the Operations Department has restored to operation.

The head buts up against the outer hull, and the piping to the CHT (Condensing and Holding Tank, IE sewage) is also visible.

A urinal. These were universal in heads, as the crew were all men.

A toilet, with a replacement seat. An original seat is shown below, from a different head.

Sinks in the head.

Showers were fitted in many of the heads, including ones that let out into the main corridors of the ship. I am not sure how this issue was dealt with, although I suspect that all-male crews allowed a rather casual attitude towards nudity.

Another shower in a different head.

The outside of the 2nd-deck head. There's a significant (~1 ft) step up to get inside. Any guesses as to why this is?2

This isn't the end of the pictures of the living quarters. I have enough to do separate posts on the dining facilities, the goat locker (Chief Petty Officer's quarters) and the miscellaneous facilities like laundry, barber shop, and brig.

1 All photos from my 2018 visit.

2 The answer is that this is space for the plumbing, which can't go under the deck because this head is sitting on top of the armored deck.


  1. January 15, 2020Jon said...

    I assume the head is set low in order to minimize escape of rogue effluents when the ship is pitching.

  2. January 15, 2020bean said...

    I think you're misinterpreting the picture. It was taken while standing in the corridor outside, looking into the head, which is above the level of the surrounding deck.

  3. January 15, 2020Lambert said...

    The little access cover bottom left suggests there's something that needs maintainance under the floor. Probably plumbing.

    My guess is that cutting big holes in the floor there for sewage pipes would compromise watertightness or something.

  4. January 15, 2020bean said...

    You're close, but it's a little bit high in the ship for them to be worrying about watertightness like that.

  5. January 15, 2020Echo said...

    Great pics! It's hard even imagine what the WWII crew quarters must have been like, with 2700 men aboard. I'm trying to find figures for the refit crew reduction to put these berths into perspective. I'm guessing it was closer to 1500 men in the 80s?

  6. January 15, 2020David W said...

    I'm guessing it's to ensure a slope from the head to the sewage destination?

  7. January 15, 2020bean said...


    According to Sumrall, design compliment was 1921, while the numbers in WWII got as high as 2978 for Missouri (2788 for Iowa, and no, I don't have a good explanation for the discrepancy. Maybe flag staff.) The 80s numbers are 1510 to 1518.

    @David W

    Nope, that's not it.

  8. January 16, 2020Chuck said...

    I see the hatch has ventilation. Is it a pump to lift the sewage up? Not really sure where the 2nd deck is in relation to the waterline.

  9. January 16, 2020bean said...

    2nd deck is the deck below the main deck, so you're above the waterline. Lambert was right in guessing it was access for the plumbing. The question is why they didn't just mount it under the deck. That was done elsewhere in the ship.

  10. January 16, 2020Chuck said...

    Could they not do that because of armor? Is the top of the citadel right below the deck?

  11. January 16, 2020bean said...

    We have a winner. Yes, that particular head is parked right on top of the main armored deck, and they weren't going to drill holes in that for a bunch of toilets. Elsewhere in the ship, the heads are not elevated, and you can see the access hatches at the top of the deck below.

  12. January 16, 2020Joel Mitchell said...

    Why was the 9"x9" or 1'x1' vinyl tile chosen for flooring?

  13. January 16, 2020bean said...

    Not really sure. Offhand, I'd guess it's a combination of durability, fire resistance, ease of cleaning, and low cost.

  14. April 05, 2021Jon Christian Merrill said...

    Hello,I'm the artist that painted the missiles and phalanx on the wall in the GM Div.berthing. Thank you for posting it.Jon Christian Merrill,(USS Iowa Mar-87-Nov-89)FTG3.

  15. April 05, 2021bean said...

    You're most welcome. There's actually a better view here, and I'd be happy to credit you if you'd like.

Comments from SlateStarCodex:

Leave a comment

All comments are reviewed before being displayed.

Name (required):

E-mail (required, will not be published):


You can use Markdown in comments!

Enter value: Captcha