October 09, 2019

Pictures - Iowa Officer's Quarters

It's time for more pictures from the greatest battleship ever built. Unlike previous installments, where I've looked at various technical facets of the Iowa, this time I'm going to look at officer's country.

The wardroom is the center of the officer's social life. Here, they eat and talk.

The tables are rather utilitarian, but comfortable enough. This space is on the tour route, and is often used for events.

The officers had their own galley, where mess stewards cooked for them.

To go with the galley was the scullery, where the dishes were washed.

The passage just forward of the wardroom. Note the box of OBAs1 and other emergency gear scattered about.

The officers have staterooms, with between one and four officers per room, as well as a desk and storage for uniforms and papers.

The Executive Officer's2 office. Most of the time, ending up here was a sign that things had gone horribly wrong.

The officer's head3 doubled as a decontamination station in case of chemical or nuclear attack.

It's pretty spartan, but slightly more luxurious than the enlisted head.4

Next time, I'll take a look at the enlisted quarters.

1 Oxygen Breathing Apparatus

2 The ship's second-in-command.

3 Bathroom, so-called because in the days of sailing ships, they were in the front (head) of the ship, where the odors would blow clear of the ship.

4 The box in the foreground is something added as a museum ship, although I'm not sure what.


  1. October 09, 2019Lambert said...

    Footnote 4 looks like a portable air conditioner.

    I suppose a battleship cares less about temperature/humidity than the average museum exhibit, but a historical artifact is a historical artifact and it needs to be looked after.


  2. October 09, 2019bean said...

    That could be it, although I'm not sure how aggressively air-conditioned those spaces are. The doors to the wardroom and the forward horseshoe are usually left open to allow free passage of visitors.

  3. October 11, 2019cwillu said...

    Dehumidifier maybe? Not sure where you could usefully vent an AC unit.

  4. October 11, 2019Lambert said...

    Looking at the product spec, both?
    Seems like it can reject either humid air or liquid water.

  5. October 11, 2019quanticle said...

    I have that exact same version of Tom Clancy's Red Storm Rising (though mine is in worse condition).

    How standardized were the quarters on these ships? I've toured the Missouri, when I was last in Hawaii, and from what I recall, its officers quarters were very similar.

  6. October 11, 2019bean said...

    They're reasonably standardized, although comparing Missouri to Iowa is easy mode, as they're sister ships. There's a regulation somewhere that says "Officers of such-and-such grade should have staterooms with 2 bunks per stateroom, and each occupant needs X amount of space for uniforms, Y for secure papers, and Z for personal effects." This drives space allocation and furniture fits, although I don't know how much of this is up to the discretion of the naval architect/shipyard and how much is standardized at higher levels. These regs are updated over time, and so newer ships are going to be more spacious and probably nicer to live in.

    But there's a lot of commonality between ships. America felt familiar, despite being about 30 years newer than Iowa. And when you have a situation where the ships were refitted only a few years apart, they're going to be very similar indeed.

  7. October 21, 2019Gareth Al. said...

    How different would the spaces have looked when it was first commissioned?

  8. October 21, 2019bean said...

    Weirdly, I don't have a good answer to that. I've checked several books, and none have pictures of the officer's quarters. It wasn't hugely different, though. At some point, I may go through my pictures from Massachusetts and see if I have any from there.

  9. October 22, 2022Argleblargle said...

    What were the social dynamics like between officers and enlisted on the Iowa during WW2? Was it more like modern times (with the officers just as a professional managerial group), or more like the age of sail with a massive class difference between the two?

  10. October 22, 2022bean said...

    More like modern times than age of sail, although not quite as much as today, AIUI.

  11. October 23, 2022Doctorpat said...

    @Argleblargle, I draw my data from tales about the Australian army, not the US Navy, but from what I'm told there was arguably even LESS social distance between enlisted and officers during WWII. Because during the war, we had all sorts of people being enlisted. Your rank and file might include university educated men, business owners and people who were previously well up the corporate (or public service) ladder. So you had a bunch of guys in the trenches who were "socially" the equal of officers, even though they were "militarily" clearly of lower rank. This caused some friction with officers who had become accustomed to having a larger prestige gap than they were now getting.

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