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Later, we made a second visit just to observe the 24-hour security patrols from the safety of the shoreline.

As news began to mount that the ships would finally be towed out for scrapping, we knew we had to act fast if we wanted to explore and document them.

We had fantasized for years about getting aboard, but it always seemed too difficult and other sites presented fewer challenges.

But the Iowa will likely see a different fate than its sister ships who await their ultimate demise at a shipbreaker.

Vallejo is currently in a heated battle with the port of Los Angeles (San Pedro) to secure rights to the battleship and turn it into a museum.

On our second trip, we discovered several holes as we readied the boat along the roadside.

Luckily, we found a patch kit at a nearby gas station, and we were back in business.The ships have shed more than 20 tons of toxic paint debris that have settled into bay sediments, where they will cause problems long after the ships are gone.Even though Congress and the State of California ordered MARAD to address the situation, nothing was done for most of the past decade.Over a two-year period, several close friends and I gained unprecedented access to the decaying ships, spending several days at a time photographing, documenting, and even sleeping aboard them—often in the luxury of the captain’s quarters.Sneaking on-board required months of planning and coordination, and it involved taking significant risks.Warning signs posted on the hulls instruct you to stay at least 500 feet away.

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