The USS Alabama began its mission in 1943. 45,000 tons of steel and machine, the “Mighty A” served in a number of notable campaigns throughout the Pacific. Walking across the deck, we were amazed at not only the amount of armament, but the sheer size. I must admit, I stood in awe under the giant 3-gun turrets with the capability of accurately firing a 2,700 pound shell, 16” in diameter, traveling over 1,500 miles per hour and the ability to reach a distance of nearly 21 miles. The armament didn’t stop there with numerous 5”, 40mm and 20mm guns wrapping the outer edges of the ship.
But, the big guns weren’t the only interest. We were able to walk throughout the ship to see how life and tasks existed. The ship was self-contained to meet not only the basic needs to emergency services. We were able to see where the offices and enlisted lived, their living quarters, kitchen, dining, even a soda fountain. You could see the ship wasn’t designed for much downtime with such a critical wartime mission that laid ahead for those manning the ship.
The engineering used in the 1940’s from building the ship, its propulsion and electronics was something to see. We were able to tour parts of the engine room. As one could image, the 4 engine rooms producing 130,000 hp was massive with the ability to push this 680 foot, over 40,000 ton ship at 28 knots. In the video, we also show some of the sophisticated electronic systems used to maintain the ship. Computers of this period filled rooms, taking a wide range of highly trained individuals to maintain. Each filled an important task and was designed to operate under the most extreme conditions.
Leave the USS Alabama Battleship was not the end of the day. The Memorial Park had much more in store.
Having the ability to see a WWII American submarine is a very rare experience. The USS Drum is the oldest American submarine on public display. While a fraction of the size of the battleship experience, the tour was no less informative. The 311 foot submarine supported a maximum of 75 day missions and designed to operate at depths up to 300 feet.
Entering the submarine, our first site was the 6 forward, 21” torpedo tubes. We continued through to see living quarters, operations, the engine room and the aft with 4 more torpedo tubes. It was difficult to grasp how life must have been for the 8 offices and 75 enlisted men that crewed this submarine. To state that living on a submarine was minimal and confined is an understatement. Space is given to the critical mission of operating the submarine and any remaining space to supporting the crew.
We left the submarine with great appreciation of the men who served in the extreme capacity protecting the shipping lanes during WWII.
The Aircraft Museum and Park Memorials.
The Medal of Honor Aircraft Pavilion has a large collection of air craft. Various jets and helicopters are displayed. One of particular interest was the restored helicopter used by presidents from Nixon to George H. W. Bush.
Outside of the pavilion we saw a rare A-12 Black Bird. This is an amazing aircraft capable of speeds at 2,300 miles per hour and altitudes over 93,000 feet. The pavilion had a video from one of the pilots that flew this aircraft supporting spy missions in the mid 1960’s. A Vietnam War era B-52 Stratofortress was on display. The sheer size and massive engines on this aircraft were something the experience. The grounds also contained an extensive amount of tanks, boats, planes, artillery and memorials.
A great experience that Joan and I are grateful to share this Memorial and honor the brave men who served on this USS Alabama, The USS Drum and the various aircraft.
USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park – https://www.ussalabama.com/
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