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Retired
battleship open to bidding by California communities

Retired
battleship open to bidding by California communities

Bidding for the World War II battleship Iowa was opened to any California community willing to give it a permanent home following an agreement by two federal lawmakers. Sen. Diane Feinstein and Rep. Richard Pombo agreed to open bidding for the battleship to any California town or city. The Iowa is now moored in Suisun Bay, about 30 miles northeast of San Francisco. Pombo had previously supported donating the 63-year-old ship to the port of Stockton. Officials there have proposed making the Iowa a tourist attraction, pledging a 1,000-foot dock, a 90,000-square-foot building, and a 15-acre parking lot. The latest agreement gives San Francisco another chance to acquire the ship. Earlier this year the city's board of supervisors voted 8-3 to block a plan to bring the ship to the Port of San Francisco. Opponents cited several reasons, including lukewarm support from the San Francisco Port and Mayor Gavin Newsom, the Pentagon's antigay "don't ask, don't tell" policy, and the city's history as a center of the peace movement. Feinstein, who has criticized the move as "petty," said she remains interested in seeing the Iowa moved to San Francisco. "Most San Franciscans have no idea what these ships are like or what life aboard them was like for the crew," she said in Washington, D.C. "It's really interesting." Language agreed to by Feinstein and Pombo will be included in a defense authorization conference report that Congress is expected to pass in the next few days. If that happens, the Navy could decide on the winning bid within a year, Feinstein aide Howard Gantman said. (AP)

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