Wednesday, November 7, 2012

There are neither folk, and then there's Norfolk.

What to do today. Considering we are in a seafaring area, perhaps something of a nautical nature. Scooterchick snapped this picture of  me. "Your chariot awaits my dear."

We drove down I-64 and got off in Norfolk. For those of the uninitiated, and I unashamedly admit I was in that category, the correct pronunciation is "Gnaw-fook" rhyming with "Nawf-hook", and so welcome to Nauticus, the National Maritime Center in Norfolk.

Let us not forget the welcome that the mermaid gave us in the lagoon out front. She is tastefully attired in flowers, of which we know there are many in the sea.

Part of the museum includes the battleship Wisconsin and for an additional fee there is a very informative guided tour of  part of the ship. The ship is so large it requires one picture facing towards the bow,

And one facing toward the stern. She is longer than 2 football fields and carried a complement of 2,700 men. She was the fourth off the Iowa class battleships, and the last one ever launched by the USA.

Here Scooterchick shows us the load of one of the guns. It fired a 2700 pound shell up to 27 miles with deadly accuracy. The charge was 6 bags of powder, each weighing about 60 pounds.

Here is a picture looking aft from the bow. One broadside of the 16 inch guns "softened up" any opposition before the Marines went ashore. She saw action in WW2, Korea, Vietnam and the 1st. Gulf War. What a massive weapon to have at one's disposal.

In the wardroom we received our briefing prior to the tour. We learned a lot about the ship, and about the sailors who called her home. Skip the navy vet who led our tour was informative and humorous.

He showed us many areas of the ship including the Fire Control Center, then launched a recorded presentation that was very realistic, and duplicated an actual event from the Gulf War, in which the ship used a Tomahawk cruise, then the 16 inchers to deal with some pesky enemy combatants. The remaining enemy fighters ended up surrendering to an unmanned drone that was circling overhead.

This was the Captain's cabin while in port. It included a double bed. (Well he was the Captain.)

This was the Captain's in port dining room. It included some furniture and a dining table, where many foreign dignitaries and crew members dined with the Captain. The last Captain to command the ship was reputed to be so parsimonious of appetite, that any invitation to dine with the Captain resulted in a warning from other crew members, "make sure you eat a meal first"!

This is the view forward from the bridge. During one stormy crossing of the North Atlantic, she reputedly buried her bow so deep in an oncoming wave, that water completely covered the lower gun deck. The bridge crew of the day must have wondered if they were about to be sailing a submarine, when she finally came through that wave and carried on at 32 knots.

In one passageway we had it explained to us that every space in the ship was labelled so that any necessary maintenance could be identified. This space is:
The second level, frame 95 from the bow, on the center line, a living space, extending from frame 95-99 and the crew responsible for it's maintenance was Operational Intelligence. Keep in mind every space in the ship was labelled similarly for ease and accuracy of identification.

This was the galley adjacent to the Captain's in port cabin. There was one man responsible for this space, and since the Captain is on duty 24/7 so was he!!!

He also had to know what dietary restrictions were required for any visiting dignitary anywhere in the world.

This was the bridge. To the right of this picture was a built in fire proof bunker know as "the Citadel". It was circular, 17 inches thick and the bridge crew were able to retreat into it if the ship came under fire during a battle. They could see out of 4 inch slits, and maintain control of all vital shipboard functions. It never actually had to be put to use.

 The bridge was equipped with windows. The original set imploded when the guns were test fired. They were replaced with plexiglas ones which merely vaporized at the next test firing.

An engineer working on the problem had his young son on board, who suggested; "Daddy why don't you just roll them down like the windows in our car." This solved the problem and ever after, the windows were required to be rolled down prior to firing the 16's.

Having concluded our tour, we went back ashore and took in the museum. They had some naval uniforms to clown around in so we did!

Here Scooterchick is showing how grand life can be in the Navy! Either that or she's talking about the one that got away........"it was thiiiiiiiis big"!!

Now we have a shot of me, apparently explaining about some incoming kamikaze, pointing to a fly on the bulkhead or merely boring someone with a tale of "back in the day."

They had a display of sailor's racks. They had a 3 inch thick foam mattress, and space below for stowage of personal items. As you can see 6 footers fit with a few inches to spare.

There was another level dedicated to current port operations. Norfolk, which includes the shipping harbor known as Hampton Roads, is the biggest, deepest and busiest port on the east coast!
This shows a scale model of the bow of a cargo ship.

Many of the items which move into and out of the port come or go by train. It is the second least expensive way to transport goods, the first being cargo ship in terms of cost per ton.

There is an open deck on this level and there were a couple sailing vessels which we sadly did not have time to visit. Another consideration was the 46F. temperature and raw wind coming in off  "The Roads."

The one picture I failed to include earlier is a Navy A-6 fighter bomber that is suspended on a pole where we reenter the museum. This is a cool added touch as it is seen in an in flight pose, passing the Wisconsin at speed. 

Another thing which was displayed on the third level of the museum. It is a full scale representation of a battleship bridge. Lots of things to play with and do.

A pair of glasses was mounted on a pole. Here I am playing lookout. There was a tug-style yacht moored about 200 yards away. With these glasses everything aboard jumped into sharp focus.

Here is a little mockup of a tug. On the bridge was an electronic set of instruments and controls to navigate, dock and operate the tug. Sadly this exhibit was out of looked like fun.

On the way out of the museum, one of our companions pointed out this flag. it is the biggest flag I have ever seen. I would venture to say it is Texas-sized. I don't know how big, but probably 30x70 feet!!

After all this excitement and fun, we decided to head back to our lodgings, and we needed to stop to get gas ($3.29 gal.) and coffee. True to form the coffee was spitefully horrid. We drank it anyway.

My neither Norfolk tale ends here. Having now had dinner, real coffee and a piece of apple pie and ice cream, I am ready to retire...........Ciao for now!

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