As far as I know, my uncle never fails to oblige anyone who closes an e-mail with a request that can be interpreted to mean “please forward this to everyone you know.” Occasionally one of them intrigues me.
Just before New Year’s, he copied me on an e-mail announcement that due to severe icing the battleship New Jersey would not be open for tours that day. The USS New Jersey is a floating museum at anchor in across the river from Philadelphia, in the Garden State. My uncle is ex-Navy, and the exhibit is close to the former site of the Campbell’s Soup factory where he once worked as a manager, two likely reasons for his subscribing to its news. I was intrigued by this announcement because severe icing is not the kind of weather problem I’d ever associate with an old battlewagon of the Pacific Fleet. Typhoons, certainly, for Bull Halsey’s flagship. He rode the New Jersey through two of them (earning himself a mention in my parody “Flashman at Klendathu” for Challenger 28.)
I’ve taken an interest in battleships since I was a boy, and done a range of things from building a plastic model of the Iowa to walking the deck of the U.S.S. Missouri looking for the brass plaque marking where everyone signed the terms ending WWII in the Pacific. Missouri was mothballed in Bremerton, WA in the Sixties, but put back in service in the mid-Eighties and refitted to launch cruise missles. After participating in the Gulf War, she was decommissioned in 1992 and this month is celebrating her tenth anniversary on exhibit in Pearl Harbor.
(Nothing to do with battleships, but in the Sixties I also got to board the U. S. S. Kearsarge, the carrier that recovered a couple of the Mercury astronauts and their capsules.)
There are a surprising number of battleship museums around the country, and some have great material online. The Battleship North Carolina, is located in Wilmington, NC. The promotional website has great photos of the ship under construction at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. (These ships took years to build – the North Carolina was started in 1937 and commissioned in April 1941.)
Battleship Cove, where the U.S.S. Massachusetts is at anchor, along with a flotilla of other historic warships, boasts the most fully developed and interesting website.
Other sites to know about:
Now a museum in Alabama.
The well-known Pearl Harbor memorial. The opening flash movie is extremely dramatic.
A WWI-era dreadnought. Now a museum in Texas. As I recall, Fleet Admiral Nimitz (a Texan) and Congressman Lyndon Johnson were on hand when this vessel was turned over to the state.