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Posts Tagged ‘ships’

Alabama the Battleship and Friends (Day 104)

October 30th, 2009 No comments

Last military museum for a while. Well — till Texas. That seems like a while, but it’ll probably be like a week and a half.

The USS Alabama is a WW2 battleship that was used for five years, then sat mothballed for another 15 before getting towed to Mobile, Ala., where it became a “museum”. Sort of the martial-maritime version of the Biltmore Estate, except for the entry fee was 82% less and it wasn’t the home/play-thing of a useless trust-fund nerd. If you want to know what a WW2-era battleship was like, this is a fantastic ship-museum. They let you touch a lot of stuff and climb on things.

They also have a WW2-era submarine there, the USS Drum.

uss-alabama_uss-drumAs an added bonus, this photo also shows Mobile’s skyline. Seriously, it’s there.

uss-alabama_periscopeThe periscope actually works. You can see the Alabama through it. You can order someone to fire torpedoes at the Alabama, but nothing happens, at which point the fantasy breaks down.

They let you climb up into the conning tower, which is pretty cool. There are also a lot of levers and knobs you can manipulate to your heart’s content (depending on your heart). This would’ve been the greatest field trip ever if I were still in grade school.

Also there’s sort of a flight museum. Or at least, there are some planes parked in a hangar there.

uss-alabama_f15-f16Any color you want, so long as it’s gray.

uss-alabama_yf-17“See that white plane over there? The one that’s the only legitimately unique thing we have in this place? Yeah, that one. How ’bout you go ahead and throw all those folding chairs next to it. There you go.”

The plane’s a YF-17, one of two prototypes that were originally developed for the Air Force, which rejected them in favor of the F-16. Then the Navy needed something small, so had Northrop re-develop it into the F/A-18 that has since grown up considerably to where it’s now not small at all. Anyway — nice folding chairs. Hope that airplane’s not getting in the way of your spare television set.

Then battleship.

uss-alabama_stackRoll, Tide!

uss-alabama_16-inch-shells16-inch shells are pretty big actually.

uss-alabama_stack-and-semiforeSome day I hope to learn semaphore so I can quit wondering whether a ship is talking about me.

uss-alabama_bob-fellerWell he did. And he’s basically the Ted Williams of right-handed pitchers.

uss-alabama_turret-meManning my self-selected battle station.

Other things I feel like typing right now:

  • The Alabama is a fantastic artifact, especially so given that it was never updated after WW2 and therefore has its 1942 almost completely intact.
  • Being allowed to crawl all over it is awesome. For instance, you can crawl into all three of the sixteen-inch turrets. Never done that before.
  • Some time I’d like someone to explain exactly what it is that makes up the smell inside a big, retired navy vessel. I’m guessing it’s oil, grease, and seawater, but — it’s just a guess.
  • A WW2-era battleship would make for an unbelievable haunted house, I think.
  • They claimed that the ship went through 1,000 gallons of ice cream a day, despite having a crew of only (“only”) 2,000. Raises at least a couple of concerns for me.

The Pacific War Museum is the one in Texas. It’s the only one I got left this trip. Sadly. I skipped the WW2 one in N.O. If you’ve been there and it’s great, please don’t tell me now.

Thx,

bkd

Yorktown IV: Revenge of the Essex Class (Day 97)

October 22nd, 2009 6 comments

I guess it’s never a bad thing to go hang out on an aircraft carrier-museum for a few hours. Well — probably the second consecutive day of it might get old. Never done it that way, though, so I wouldn’t know.

I’m starting to realize that Charleston’s attractions are merely okay. OTOH, it’s been a great, comfortable, *polite* place to hole up for a few days.

That said, here are a few pictures of the same thing each time. (The aircraft carrier is the Yorktown, it was built in 1943 and therefore involved in WWII. Decommissioned in 1970. It smelled like an aircraft carrier.)

Oh, and I forgot to re-charge my DSLR battery, so these were taken with my cell phone, so they’re kind of crappy-looking.

yorktown_ship-flag-bridgeCarrier, flag, Ravenel Bridge (connects Charleston with Mt. Pleasant)

yorktown_tailhookTailhook, but no scandal.

yorktown_hornetHornet is go.

yorktown_thru-windowBridge and Phantom viewed from flight control.

Y’know, I’m not sure I learned anything from this ship. The guy there didn’t know if there were any actual F4F Wildcats left anywhere (theirs was another FM-2). Um. They have a Medal of Honor museum on-board, but it was pretty dull. You do (re-)learn that aircraft carriers are big, complex systems there. Got to see the on-board dentist area. There’s also a submarine that you can walk through (torpedo room, engine room, officers’ rooms, bridge, galley, mess, torpedo room — IIRC).

Beautiful day, though.

bkd

(PS, I *did* learn that Charleston lost their navy base in, like, ’98 or so. Still got the AFB, though.)

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