|USS Alabama firing a broadside in the Atlantic Ocean, 1943. (Source)|
Alright, the Ike is not actually "my" carrier, though as a tax payer I am, in reality, a part owner. She is a fine ship with which I have a connection. Having been aboard her more than once and actually having been to sea on her once upon a time. The connection there is that my oldest daughter, The Nuke, was once a member of ship's company aboard that fine warship. Which is how The Missus Herself and I were able to have Christmas dinner on the Ike back in the day. (2007, I think...)
As you may well imagine, with three offspring having been in, or still in, the United States Navy, I have connections with more ships than just the Ike. I consider those ships "mine" as well. (Again, part owner, though it's not like these ships are timeshares, as in "Hey, can I use the carrier for the last two weeks in September?" And wouldn't that be awesome?) So today I thought I'd talk about "my" ships. (As you may note, I claim USS Alabama (BB-60) as well, having visited her when I was assigned to Keesler AFB in Biloxi, Mississippi. But we'll get to that, shortly.)
I do believe that USS Alabama was the first warship I ever stepped aboard. I know I have pictures from that day when on the way over to visit one of The Missus Herself's sisters (in fact, the sister of Uncle Smitty's Hamsters fame, if fame that be), we decided to stop at the USS Alabama Memorial Park on the way back to Mississippi.
We toured the Alabama and I also got to clamber aboard my very first submarine, the USS Drum, which was actually in the water when we visited in 1987. Here's what she looked like a few years before that -
Uh, yes, I did notice the aircraft behind the Drum, saw those and now I understand there are more, including, (oh, be still my heart) an F-4C* on a stick. This one, and she looks good. Damn good.
Anyhoo, those were museum ships, oddly enough (just learned this today) the other battlewagon I've been aboard, USS Massachusetts, is the same class as the Alabama. Both are fine examples of the South Dakota-class. Odd, innit?
I have seen three Iowa-class battlewagons as well with mine own eyes (so to speak), the USS Iowa herself, she was tied up to a pier at Naval Station Newport when we first arrived here in Little Rhody. (Along with two aircraft carriers. USS Saratoga and USS Forrestal. Yeah, it was awesome seeing those old gals tied up alongside each other. Though as the years went by, those two carriers were really showing their age.) As I've been to downtown Norfolk, I've also seen USS Wisconsin haven't been aboard her yet.
Flying into Philly on more than one occasion, I've also seen the USS New Jersey at her mooring in the Delaware River. (We flew right over another aircraft carrier going into Philly once, USS John F Kennedy at the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility in Philadelphia. (According to Wikipedia, "Big John" might be on her way to Boston as a museum ship. Then I might actually get to walk her decks. The WSO has actually been at sea on the "Big John" - I might have a ball cap, somewhere...
Other ships I have a connection with include three more carriers, USS Enterprise (son-in-law Big Time went on two combat deployments with her air wing, and The Nuke served her first class midshipman tour aboard the "Big E" in the Mediterranean. Then there's the USS Theodore Roosevelt, or "TR" as she's known in the fleet, aboard which my youngest granddaughter, L'il Sweetie, was baptized back in January out yonder in Sandy Eggo. Of course, I can't forget the USS Ronald Reagan, I went to sea aboard her back when the The WSO was a Bullet (VFA-2). She also did RIMPAC 2014 on Reagan. She did the work, I got the t-shirt. Two, actually.
Oddly enough, The Nuke did a midshipman cruise (third-class) aboard Reagan before she was commissioned. Wild, huh?
I've been on a few other museum ships which were designed to submerge and resurface, i.e. submarines, other than the Drum. At nearby Battleship Cove, Murphy (of Lagniappe's Lair fame)and I toured USS Lionfish. (I've also been aboard USS Nautilus over at New London and the USS Dolphin out in Sandy Eggo.) We also toured the USS Massachusetts, the USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. (a WWII-era Gearing-class destroyer), the Hiddensee (a Soviet-designed, former East German missile corvette), and a bunch of other cool stuff that day. Murphy was somewhat disappointed that there were no boarding ladders for him to test. But he did find lots of other buttons to push. He's an interactive kind of guy. And if you touch something and it breaks, you can always blame Murphy, the docents will believe you. Heh, Murph has a reputation!
Speaking of destroyers, I've been on some active duty versions of those as well.
One of "my" destroyers is the USS Oscar Austin, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer. I toured her for work. Yes, sometimes my job is fun. Now the next one I spent nearly a week on, tied up to the pier but cool nevertheless.
|US Navy Photo|
I toured this ship for work twice. The first time I was one of the tourists, the second time The Nuke was assigned to her as the Anti-Submarine Warfare Officer, or ASWO. So that time I was one of the guides, brought 60-odd folks from work out to tour the ship over five days. Like I said, there are times when the job is a lot of fun. (There's more on McFaul here as well as the other destroyers I'm connected with via the progeny.)
Lots and lots of ships I've seen, I've got lots more I want to see. Someday I will get The Nuke to get me aboard a nuclear submarine, underway! (Hey, a fellow can dream, can't he?)
Oh yeah, I've been aboard a frigate as well, The WSO's college roommate was aboard that one. USS Taylor came to Little Rhody for the Fourth of July a few years back. Spent a couple of hours touring that ship. Spent most of the Fourth playing beer pong with a bunch of newly-minted ensigns. Much fun and I only puked once. The WSO managed to eject from a lawn chair and narrowly missed a few of The Missus Herself's rose bushes. Well, the rest of us thought it was funny...
Anyhoo, here's a list of "my" ships. (Warships only, US Navy only.)
|USS Taylor FFG-50 (US Navy Photo)|
- USS Alabama
- USS Drum
- USS Nautilus
- USS Massachusetts
- USS Lionfish
- USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr.
- USS Dolphin
- USS Nautilus
- USS Oscar Austin
- USS McFaul
- USS Briscoe
- USS Nitze
- USS Taylor
- USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (underway)
- USS Ronald Reagan (underway)
- USS Theodore Roosevelt
- USS Wisconsin
- USS Iowa
- USS New Jersey
- USS Saratoga
- USS Forrestal
- USS John F Kennedy
- USS Midway
- USS Yorktown (hat tip to Chris Johnson for the reminder!)
|USS Midway (Source)|
* Update: The Phantom on a stick at Battleship Memorial Park, Mobile, Alabama is tail number 63-7487, an F-4C (F-4C-18-MC). (Source)