The last of the Iowa class battleships not consigned to a museum, the Iowa was laid down in June 1940, launched in August 1942, and finally commissioned in February 1943. Following a shakedown cruise in the Chesapeake Bay, the Iowa sailed to Newfoundland as a hedge against the possibility that the German battleship Tirpitz would sortie into the Atlantic, and remained there for the rest of the year.

1944 saw the Iowa transfer to the Pacific Fleet, where she made her combat debut in February and took part in the Marshall Islands campaign before joining a carrier task group and taking part in the Marianas campaign and the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

Iowa took part in the Korean War, providing gunfire support to UN forces there, but was deactivated in February 1958. Reactivated in 1980 as part of the Reagan Administration's rearmament program, the Iowa returned to her origins in the Atlantic Fleet, cruising in American and European waters and taking part in exercises with NATO allies' ships. Unfortunately, the most memorable occurrence on the Iowa during her second life was an April 1989 explosion in her #2 turret which killed 47 men. She was decommissioned the following year and placed in the "mothball fleet" at Suisun Bay; stricken from the Naval Register in 2006, she is available for donation as a museum ship.