USS Iowa crew at the Iowa State Fair. (USS Iowa photo)

From livestock shows to midway rides and plenty of tasty things on sticks, the skipper and several crew members from the U.S.S. Iowa submarine are soaking in the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines today.

Commander Quintin James says he and the others will be easy to pick out among the masses of fairgoers. “You’re going to see some sailors walking around in their dress whites,” James says. “Feel free to stop by and talk to them, bend their ear and ask them what they do on the submarine and share in fellowship with them their stories so you guys can understand us on the crew and hopefully, we can understand Iowans.”

The submarine is still under construction in Connecticut. Some people in the Hawkeye State are a little confused when they hear about the U.S.S. Iowa, confusing it with the retired World War Two-era battleship that’s now a museum in Los Angeles Harbor.

“A lot of times they’ll say, ‘Oh, I toured the ship,’ and I’ll ask them and they’ll say, ‘Oh, yeah, the battleship,” James says. “I have to inform them that there’s a submarine being built with the namesake of the state of Iowa and let them knew we have a crew here that’s just itching to get to know Iowans.”

Whether you’re working in the military or civilian world, James says it’s always important to have a connection with folks who are outside the workplace.
“We’re really looking for the support network back in the state for the crew and for the family of the crew,” James says, “because once we deploy and get underway, we’re leaving our families behind and having that connection back to the state for moral support and emotional support, knowing that there’s people thinking about the sailors and their families is a great feeling to have.”

Several members of the crew took in an Iowa Barnstormers game over the weekend. They’ve also been in the state for events like the Iowa Irish Festival in Waterloo and to ride on RAGBRAI. James says a delegation from the crew also came to the Cedar Rapids area a year ago to help clear debris after the derecho hit.

“Within 24 hours, we had trucks pointed west with trailers on them and chainsaws and crates and crates of water to come out and help our family, our extended family here in Iowa,” James says. “I have five sailors onboard who are actually from Iowa and I think two of them went on that particular trip.”

The billion-dollar submarine should be fully assembled by October, “pressure hull complete,” James says, with christening scheduled for next spring in Connecticut and commissioning in the spring of 2023. It will be the fourth U.S. Navy vessel to be named after the state of Iowa.