Monday, August 19, 2019

Some BBs along the way.

Well, it sounds like Sarge represented the gang quite well at Saturday's get together.  Like most of us, I wish we could have been there.  Woulda been fun.

However, as promised I have some photos to post, and rather than in chronological order, I think I'll post them in by types rather than location.

Having been on a lot of ships in my life, to include my first voyage at less than one year old and a couple of sails on Blue Ridge and Coronado, I thought I'd start with "Ships for 100, Alex".

One of the things I realized on the drive back home from the USS Texas stop, was while all different, there was an identifiable lineage in the 3 Battleships I'd "Seen" on the trip.  I say "Seen", because one of them, USS Louisiana, was only a large scale model.  The current USS Louisiana looks like this when she's underway.
Source
However, the USS Louisiana (BB-19) was a Connecticut Class Battleship commissioned in 1906. Her big claim to fame in her 14 year career was participation in the round the world cruise of the "Great White Fleet".

USS Louisiana (BB-19) Source
Her armament was 4 x 12" guns, 2 forward and 2 aft and difficult to see in the above photo, as well as 8 X 8" and 12 x 7" guns along the sides as well as 4 X 21" torpedo tubes along the sides.  She spent WWI as a gunnery training ship, was decommissioned in 1920 and sold for scrap in 1923.

Here's the model

But she sets the baseline for my point.  The next ship, chronologically, is USS Texas (BB-35).

Huge, too big to get in one shot, so panorama was needed. Ergo, a bit of distortion.

USS Texas is a New York Class Battleship, and is the sole surviving battleship that fought in both WWI and WWII.    She is huge!  Her armament included 10 x 14", 21 X 5" guns as well as 4 X 21" Torpedo tubes.

USS Texas is part of the San Jacinto monument park.  The park and monument commemorate the Battle of San Jacinto, an 18 minute battle fought on April 21, 1836 where the Texans led by Sam Houston defeated the Mexican Army led by Santa Anna.  He escaped after the battle, but was captured the next day and held captive until the Leader of the Mexican Government (did I mention that Santa Anna was also President of Mexico at the time?) signed the Peace Treaty granting Texas its Independence.

Funny, how negotiations are easier when your boot is on their neck.

Stay on Target, juvat!

Target Aye! ¡Mi viejo sargento de la Fuerza Aérea con un ojo biónico!

 
The similarity is in the emplacements  (barbettes) directly above the rust spots on the hull

So having visited the USS Kidd museum the previous day and viewed the model of the USS Louisiana, when I started to board the USS Texas and took the above picture, I was struck by the similarities.

Specifically, the 5" gun emplacements along and recessed into the sides.  They very much reminded me of similar emplacements on Louisiana.  

Boarding was delayed for a few minutes as a Cub Scout Pack that had overnighted on board held a flag raising ceremony.  I thought it was cool.

With the ship officially opened, we boarded and started walking around.  This truly is a museum ship and very few things were "don't touch".  There were some off limits areas, primarily 3 decks down and given what I've read about the ship and its maintenance problems, I was ok with that.

But as I said, very few things were "don't touch".



So the 3 inch gun mounts, which you and a partner could traverse and elevate, were prime real estate for the Cubs.  No, Murphy, I don't think they actually fire, although, if anyone can make that so, it would be you.

But, while I wanted to try, Mrs J wouldn't stop laughing, so I gave up.

The 5" gun emplacements from the inside.

The ready rack for the guns.  These were loaded manually although there was a hoist that brought them up to the gun deck from storage.


Moving forward, from the midships and on to the Main Deck

The San Jacinto Battlefield,  Santa Anna's men were basically at the monument, Sam Houston's men started from the foreground in the picture.

Mrs J is taking a picture of me taking a picture.
The main battery turrets also show the lineage back to the USS Louisiana.  2 barrels per turret (albeit a couple of inches bigger).  But if you notice on either side and slightly above the main turrets are a weapon platform that shows further evolution (and eventual demise) of the battleship.

Anti-aircraft platforms.  USS Texas was the first battleship to receive and test Anti-Aircraft on board.  She was also one of the first BB's to have an Aircraft itself on board.  It, however, was used for Observation and gunfire control rather than protection.

WWI for USS Texas was spent mostly in convoy duty while in WWII she was initially assigned to the Atlantic. Prior to US entry in the war, she again performed convoy escort.  After Pearl Harbor, her armament was changed somewhat to increase the AAA coverage.  She provide gunfire support during Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa as well as the Normandy Invasion.  Specifically she was tasked with providing the gunfire support for the Ranger attack on Pont Du Hoc. Ironically, the commander of that attack was James E. Rudder, Texas A&M class of '32.

Following replenishment, USS Texas returned to support the attack on the port of Cherbourg.  During this attack, the Texas came under fire from the batteries around the port and sustained a hit which wrecked the pilot house killing the helmsman on duty, Christen Christensen, the only combat fatality USS Texas sustained.
USS Texas as seen during the invasion of Southern France from USS Arkansas.  A miss is a as good as a mile, I guess.

She further provided support for the invasion of Southern France before being transferred to the Pacific where she provided support for the invasions of Okinawa and Iwo Jima.



Quiz question #1:  What is this and what is it used for?

All in All, I'm glad I got to visit her.  I sincerely hope she returns to some venue where she can be explored.  I think San Jacinto is symbolically a good place, but I guess the water environment isn't conducive to her longevity.



As we were walking back to the car, I glanced back at the ship.  Thought this was an interesting shot.

This was playing in the Officer's Wardroom on board.   The chaplains story of the German Artillery hit is dust raising.





The 3rd BB to talk about was in fact the first we saw.  Way back in the early portion of the road trip, we stopped at Mobile and visited Battleship Park.  Since it was only a couple of hours from Baton Rouge and the Stalinist prison camp hotel room, we went directly to the park arriving around 11:30.  It was Alabama...in August.  It was warm, but again, at least it was humid.

So. juvat, an excellent opportunity to realistically experience, if only for a brief while, life on a battleship in the South Pacific. I mean, how much more realistic can it get? 102° on the Truck thermometer,  heat index of 112 according to the news, and a 36000 ton hunk of metal that's been out in it for years.

My antiperspirant failed.


But...

The park itself is very cool and has quite a few one of a kinds.

Not the least of which is the star of the show.
There was no place I could get to where I could get a full shot of her
USS Alabama (BB-60), was the last of the South Dakota class of Battleships.  I was struck by the similarity to the Missouri, but noted that she seemed smaller.


Well...Congress....Money....War Coming, but..."OK Navy, you can have more battleships, with bigger guns, but no more tonnage."  So, with additions and changes to the design based on lessons learned at Pearl Harbor, she is quite a bit more cramped than Iowa class.  That having been said, she was "Yuge",  Texas is just "Huge".

Cost a bit to get into the Park Museums ($25 for Mrs J and I with our Senior/Veteran discount, pick one, they're both the same amount), but worth it.



Came aboard and strolled back to the aft deck.  Took a picture for a Japanese couple visiting the ship and enjoyed the irony of that.  I was enthused about this ship, because I had no real knowledge of what she had done during the war.

Well, she was initially assigned to the Atlantic after commissioning in August of '42.  However, by summer of '43, she was transferred to the Pacific, which was a pretty dark time in that theater.  However, she was a new battleship and the last of her class and a new class was coming into service, and there were carriers and other ships, in short, the tide was turning.

You got that feeling when you walked on board.
9 battle stars. The Gilberts, Marshals, Truk and other raids, Hollandia, Marianas, Carolines, Leyte, Okinawa, and Operations against Japan itself.

One of Buck's "I had no ideer" 's but this made a lot of sense. (After I read the captions.) with a wartime crew of ~2500, no one could know everyone, so these buttons were worn on uniforms and specified duty stations and shifts.  At a glance you could tell where and when someone was supposed to be.


STxAR's favorite room.  (The radio room)


The main gun casemate which provide structural support and protection for the loading and firing process.

BTW the lug on the right is 6'
 Which was a big deal when you're loading these little things.  Right after that picture, I had the thought that those guys in the turrets weren't tiny.

"When I joined the Navy, I was a 90Lb weakling, look at me NOW!"

But somehow those shells had to get maneuvered onto these lifts for loading.  Quickly, when it's hot, humid, and loud.  Over and over.

Then there was the 5" rounds also.
All so these things could go boom when they were supposed to.  BTW, when I counted, there were 45 weapons of various sizes I could see from this position.  I don't think I got them all in the shot, however, 
Source
Quiz Question #2  What was this used for?

So that rounds out the BB's we encountered.  And we learned a lot.  I did have one moment I'll remember for quite a while.

My Country's Flags were all at half-staff/mast.

It bothers me when I see that.  It means we've lost countrymen.  It irritates me when it happens for no apparent reason.  It annoys me when some idiot publishes some manifesto trying to justify their actions.  Finally, I am infuriated when somebody tries to make political gain out of it and blame it on devices, not people, and tries to pass laws that prohibit or restrict my/our ability to protect our lives and those of people we love.  I worry about our future.
Dedicated to Alabama Military and First Responders who have lost their lives since 9/11
Then sometimes something happens that says I might just be wrong about that.


50 comments:

  1. Hmmmm.....quiz 1 and 2...... I got nothing....(sigh). Hope the Texas project works out, the decking and hull looks pretty bad. Nice selection of photos juvat, good follow up posting. Interesting to see the progression of a weapons system over the years. Noticed that the crew for Alabama went from approximately 1,800 in peace to 2,500 in the war, that is cramped all right. No, you're correct about someone always blaming devices and not people, it's usually one group of people doing that continually. Getting mighty tired of that tactic too so thanks for that last photo.

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    1. My pleasure, Nylon. I was coming out from looking at another section of the monument and saw him. Said a quick prayer that I could get the camera on him in time. Thankfully....Mom and Dad were completely on the other side of the monument, so there was no prompting for his action. Probably about 7 or 8. Did my heart good.

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    2. What is really sad is the Texas is about as rusty looking as most of our actual working fleet is.

      And, yes, no matter what the media is constantly telling us, patriotism still lives strongly in this nation, even amongst the young.

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    3. I have noticed that the few times I've seen a picture of an Active Duty ship. Unfortunate.

      It was refreshing to see an exhibition thereof, though.

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  2. Very well done! You are a great photo-journalist. And it's a real tossup. I love the radio room, and the machinist spaces are mighty nice too!! I really like them both..... a lot.....

    My son and I had a hoot on that 3 inch mount when he was 10. That gun deck made me a bit claustrophobic. Maybe growing up in Lubbock county had something to do with that.

    Yeah, Houston in summer.... You shower, dress, hit the door, and you have sweat circles on your shirt before you make it to the car. It's a swamp. A malarial swamp. Those Allen brothers were scallywags. (I used a different dictionary)

    I sure hope they can save the USS Texas. It is really looking rough. Like it needs a few hundred guys to start chipping paint, cleaning up the rust and slathering on red lead.

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    1. Thanks, Both ships looked like the machinist spaces were actually being used currently for ship maintenance, so the shots weren't as "interesting" as I thought.

      I'll bet a Father/Son gunnery session would have been fun. Unfortunately....

      Houston is not my favorite town in Texas, for a lot of different reasons, but traffic and weather are in the top 2.

      Me too.

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  3. First thought on seeing #1 - a dolphin used for mines. #2 - no idea.
    Frank

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    1. Can't remember where I heard a paravane referred to as a dolphin - but for some reason it stuck in my head.
      Frank

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    2. Frank #1 Correct on the usage, they didn't have any reference to dolphin in the description, so I'll defer to your expertise.

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    3. Correct of the name, at least as far as the placard went.

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    4. My first thought was “minesweeping” - but then I thought “how could it be better at sweeping mines than the *giant steel thing* it’s attached to?”

      There’s more than one way to sweep a mine, if you know what I mean...

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    5. It's a paradise with cutter, part of the Oropesa sweep streamed from a fitting at the base of the bow. The sweep would be pulled down to the desired depth, by a " kite ", and away from the ship to the desired distance by an " otter ". The otter and paravane would be kept at a proper depth by a float that was attached to the paravane. The sweep wire would draw the mine's float cable to the cutter, which would then cut the cable.

      Interestingly enough, kites and otters are identical, the only difference is where in the sweep you put it.

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    6. Yeah, I was hoping someone knowledgeable about that would explain how it worked. According to information on the ship it was designed to be launched from the bow and would extend out to the sides with a cable in between. The mooring of the mine would be cut by the cable. I'm not sure how it would stay out away from the ship and not be dragged back by the ships forward motion until it rested against the side.

      I think HMS Defiant has said something along the lines of "Every ship can be a mine sweeper once."

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    7. STB
      We must have been typing at the same time. So, if I understand what you said and can translate it into aviation speak, the two controls act similar to an airfoil and use the ships forward velocity to apply pressure in a direction you want the paravane to go and then is kept there by the cable?

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    8. Juvat - I would not refer to the dolphin comment as expertise, just something I heard once (somewhere) that resulted in an 'Interesting' tag applied to a memory note in my brain. As a result of the tag, it now is the first thing to pop up, iffy as it is.
      Grew up in the midwest, and heard a harvest crew manager say we were using the word 'maize' all wrong, because in the region he grew up in, it was used for wheat (?????).
      Frank

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    9. Anonymous Frank - Like the word 'corn' which in Europe meant any grain, mostly wheat or barley. Knowing the regional meanings of words helps a lot.

      Like in SE Tennessee. Bars aren't places you drink at, they are those wooden things (or plastic things) that drinks come in... you know, barrels...

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    10. Methinks Scott the Badger went through MCM 101 at the MIW schoolhouse. Although MCM hasn't changed since before WWII so all that info is out there somewhere.

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    11. Juvat, you have grasped the use of otters and kites most skilfully.

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    12. Whoop! I'm on a hot streak! One in a row!

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  4. Quiz Question #2; a motor-generator set, used to convert main power to lower voltages. You can see some decent sized fuses on the lower right side of the support frame.

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    1. I'll give you a 95 on #2 Mr. Bidness. It is a motor-generator used to convert main power to lower voltages. 100 is reserved for what specifically that power was used for.

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    2. Clearly, with that massive amount of power it has to be for the ventilation system. Taco Tuesday is no joke on a warship with 2500 men in close quarters.

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    3. a bear,
      At least according to the displayed information I read, that is incorrect.

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  5. There’s many a sailor who’s seen those ships in the first photo. (jk)

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    1. Or at least spent a lot of time looking for them.

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  6. Any ship can be a minesweeper.

    Once.

    Great post juvat.

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    1. So the LCSesses ARE equipped with the minesweeping package, built in. Well, they have to be good for something....

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    2. Referring to an response I just posted above, I hadn't read your comment Sarge. Great minds (mines?) think alike.

      Thanks

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    3. Evidently, Beans, I got to see one of those LCS's under construction in Mobile. Unfortunately, I could only see it for a few seconds from the highway and the phone(s) were in the pouches. Thought it was a/the Zumwalt, but Sarge corrected me.

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  7. I can't remember whether the step-down gen set is for powering one of the turrets. Seems familiar, in a long ago, scratchy in the inside of the head way. Hmmmm...

    Great pictures. Glad the Texas isn't in the shape of the Olympia, yet. Hope there's a chance for her to still live. Interesting that the remnants of the anti-torpedo netting supports are all gone. That must have happened sometime in mid WWII. (Back in the day, to stop sneaky submarines and torpedo boats from dastardly sinking ships moored in a harbor, or to stop small boats from getting close, large arms were attached to the side that swung out 20-25' and supported a steel or rope net that hung all around the ship. They were predominate in WWI times, seem to have gone out of favor during the peace years. One wonders how Pearl Harbor would have worked out if the US Fleet had used them. Hmmmm...)

    The Alabama is a neat ship. You can get some good views of her from the little road that runs under I-10 that has a restaurant and hotel on it, located forward of the ship to her starboard side. You can really get a feel for her as you go west across the bay on I-10 and she appears.

    Semi-frequent commentor and HAM and space afficionado drjim will probably also be able to tell you make and model of all the fun stuff in the radio room. He worked/played in the USS Iowa's radio room when he was on the left coast. STaRX or drjim, is Alabama's radio room a working one?

    The tour I took many moons ago was very interesting. The mess hall, and the chaplain's quarters were very interesting. So was the main turret from what we could see, but couldn't see into any of the dual 5"-38cal secondary turrets. Bummer.

    Glad you and your lady-wife survived the Гостиница Сталин. Whomever decided to make and design that hotel chain should be sent to the ГУЛАГ!!! конвульсии!!!

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  8. The 5" turrets were open for our visit, but we were rapidly running out of ooomph in climbing ladders. Did the inside of the ship first thinking it would be cooler. Nope, only one small room on board was air conditioned. So by the time we'd explored the inside, we needed to find some water. Went to the bow for that picture, disembarked and went to the Aviation Museum, sat down and watched a 25 minute film about the Tuskegee Airman while downing a liter or so of water.

    The Hotel Stalin was a tradeoff for Mrs J's coming along. She needed to check it out so she could recommend it or not with any clients. Given that it was only $10 per night cheaper than the Hamptons along the way. I'd say somebody would really need to be hard up for cash to want to stay there.

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  9. I sorta recall that we had motor generator sets to provide 400 cycle power, but I can't dredge up what the 400 cycle power was used for.

    The 16" shells in your photo were moved by a technique called parbuckling.
    You can see the same small capstan visible in your photo at about 5:00 in this video.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0OmOQs0ziSU

    The USS Wisconsin (BB-64) spent some time in the Philly shipyard when she was getting recalled to active duty.
    Walking under her when she was balanced on the blocks was both awesome, and a bit creepy.

    I sailed aboard her when she did her post overhaul sea trials, and it still gives me a thrill to say, "When I was at sea on the Battleship Wisconsin..."

    Sadly, they didn't fire the 16" guns on the sea trials.

    Great post.

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    1. OK, time for a hint. It was used for the same mission Quiz Question 1 was.

      Getting to sail on a BB would have been cool for sure.

      That was a great film, thanks for sharing

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  10. A fun thing they do on the Alabama is a mock air attack. Planes come in across Mobile Bay and they open up on them with the 20mm's loaded with blanks. I always get a kick out of that even though I've seen it a few times. I work about a mile from the Alabama and used to work across the river from the dry dock Austal builds the LCS in.

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    1. That would be fun to watch. Even more fun to lead the attack, but that's just the fighter pilot in me coming out. Really enjoyed our time in Mobile, 'cept for the H & H part that is. But I guess you get used to it.

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  11. I'm gonna take a SWAG here and say that the motor-generator set is used to power the "Degaussing Coils" that are used to "Degauss", or demagnetize, the ship's hull to make it less susceptible to magnetetically-triggered mines. If they had one on the Iowa, I don't recall seeing it.

    The radio gear appears to be all WWII-era equipment. Possibly made by Collins Radio, RCA, and other companies like Stewart-Warner who were building Collins and RCA designs under license during the war.

    A minimal Google search doesn't come up with many "Ham Radio" hits, and a bit more digging shows they did operate this year's "Museum Ships Weekend" as AL2C, associated with the Deep South Amateur Radio Club, whose callsign is K4DSR, so there's *some* "radioactivity", but apparently not as much as other museum ships.

    The Iowa had 99.9% of that gear removed during her 1980's refit, and replaced with contemporary 1980's equipment. And AFAIK, the Iowa is the only museum ship that (now) has fully-functioning, "As Refit", radio gear, and it gets used on a regular basis. When she came to Lost Angeleez in 2012, we were stunned to find that almost all of the 1980's radio gear was intact. Took us a few years to get operational again, but almost all the gear was still there, owing to the fact that the Iowa never received the additional upgrades for the first Gulf War.

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    1. ANDDDDD We have a winner! Great summary also drjim, obviously you've BTDT. Any idea how effective it was? Probably very effective on board Alabama as... well...she's still here. Thanks

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    2. It was considered quite effective, per the Wikipedia entry.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Degaussing

      I have to admit that I hadn't studied this much until I just now read the entry. I knew the method was developed during WWII, and I understand the Physics quite well, but never bothered to read up on it.

      "Degaussing" was an active process, where the genset ran continuously to continually demagnetize the hull, while a method called "Wiping" was developed (by the RCNVR same guy!) to temporarily degauss smaller ships, or ships that couldn't be fitted out with the equipment, on a schedule, similar to "wiping" a hard-drive, video cassette, audio cassette, or other magnetic storage media.

      Pretty clever folks, those Brits!

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    3. Thanks, Interesting article (which if I understood 1/4 of, I'm lucky) although I took away that it worked in WWII, then newer, bigger better, faster weapons...so a new superconductor is now used and supposedly works since it's only needed once.

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    4. Imminent death tends to stimulate the mental capabilities of even politicians who finally listen to that weird guy in the corner who's been trying to sell new and weird tech. Like the jet engine...

      And I knew drjim would be able to pretty much give us the skinny on the radio room. It would be neat to get all that '40s and later tech up and running. Let's hope the crew running the Alabama get a chance.

      I had heard about degaussing as an active measure against both magnetic mines and magnetic torpedo fuses. drjim for the win!!!

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  12. #1- Paravane, for cutting mine cables. There should have been two, plus a spreader bar somewhere. #2- 400Hz gensets. Probably three phase. They used to be used to run the gun computers. And great pics. :-)

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    1. #1- This younger NFO concurs with Old NFO. We still use them, for a little bit longer, but they're painted white now.

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    2. I didn't see a second one on the starboard side. This was mounted on the exterior bulkhead, but I don't know if that was just to display it or whether that was where it was stored when not in use.

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  13. re: USS Texas - I remember many, many moons ago climbing to the top of the San Jacinto monument and looking out and down on the Texas. Nice clear day, and with young eyes, the scene was in high def, 4K, whatever ... and I had the thought that no wonder Sam Houston won, Santa Ana didn't stand a chance against the Texas!! :-) And I also had fun on the gun mounts that moved. But the picture on the previous entry sent a couple of chills up my spine, thinking of the span of time between the two monuments not being that great, but with the span of technology being quite immense. And of course, both have always instilled a sense of pride in Texas that remains to this day. (since I went to school when we were indoctrinated the right way, I am a Texan before I am an American!!)

    re: heat and humidity - just saw a documentary on TV this afternoon that was about WWII shipwrecks in the Pacific. One was the Indianapolis, and there was a discussion about why it sank so quickly even though the hull was compartmentalized. Two factors came into play - one, since it was a really dark night and the ship was fairly far out of the combat zone, the Captain decided it would be OK to gain a little distance by stopping the zigging and zagging designed to throw off the tracking of a submarine. Also, it seems that it was quite hot in early August, so the Captain decided the crew could open the portholes and compartment doors to ventilate the ship. (No idea if it had also been Taco Tuesday.) So when the torpedo struck the bow and took off a big section, what might have been a survivable hit became a fatal wound.

    If you had gone up I-85 in Mobile all the way to I-40 in NC and then to Wilmington, NC, you could have visited the USS North Carolina. Which I must do again soon, it's been about 25 years since I last went aboard her. If she's been kept up, she's also pretty magnificent. Helpful tip for those who visit her - the 'Do Not Feed the Alligators" signs are for real!

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    1. There was a similar sign entering Battleship park. Fortunately, I did not see any signs thereof.

      You just never know when it's safe to let your guard down, so it's usually better to keep it up. Or...a Navy version of the pistol analogy. "You don't need to keep your hatches and doors closed, until you need to keep your hatches and doors closed, then you need it bad."

      I think adding North Carolina to the trip, might have been a bit much for Mrs J. She was singing this song all the way home from Baytown.

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  14. I can see why they kept Texas out of the Pacific, for so long, during the war. Her profile is very IJN, with the foremast looking very, very much like a pagoda mast.

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    1. I don't think so, see USS Pennsylvania.

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    2. That's a possibility I suppose. I think more likely because she was pretty old and the Naval threat (other than U Boats) was considerably lower, she was sent to the Atlantic. Naval Gunfire support was still needed there and she could provide it. She was also 7K slower than Alabama which meant that she was only slightly faster than Japanese subs. All those factors probably contributed to the decision where to initially employ her. Once the Invasion forces were outside of her support range, and sea superiority (if that's a term) was achieved in the Pacific, she was transferred there for Okinawa and Iwo Jima.

      But that's my opinion and nothing else.

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  15. ...Wikki indicates Texas spent a lot of time escorting convoys in the Atlantic. (the destroyer and corvette screen would protect HER from U-boats and she would protect them and the convoy from surface threats). She was old, but probably was a fair match for a German battle cruiser and would far outmatch any smaller surface raider. The Germans didn't have many of either, and couldn't afford to lose them - so her very presence in a convoy would be a strong deterrent.

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    1. Exactly...Having been in a position where I had to make recommendations (not decisions) on deployment of forces, it was often a choice of "slightly better" or often "less bad" options. That's why I hypothesize Texas went to the Atlantic first.

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)