A Trip to the USS Alabama
April 27, 2007
Friday afternoon, we all went to tour the USS Alabama battleship.
It was impressive in its hugeness.
We found some stairs that led up and hoped to find our way to the top, but unfortunately, we were stopped by locked doors. Still, halfway up was pretty high!
We were allowed to go inside one of these turrets through a narrow door in the back. It was stuffy and tight, even in silence. I can't imagine what it would be like in there while the guns were being fired!
Later on, as we toured farther into the ship, we found ourselves in the "16" Gun Barbette," the base of the big turrets on deck.
The sign says, "For the first time, anywhere, a visitor on a battleship, or any warship, is now able to enter the inside of the 16" Gun Barbette.
"To trully understand and appreciate the impact of this new adventure for the USS ALABAMA visitors, we will undertake a very general description. From the outside, one can see that this ship has three giant turrets, each with three 16" guns - capable of throwing a 2700 pound projectile approximately twenty-one miles. These are used for heavy bombardment of enemy shore installations. Each turret sits on top of a huge cylinder of steel, which in turn rests on the keel of the ship. Inside this cylinder, all of the projectiles, or shells, are stored. All of the powder charges are stored in nearby compartments. The gun crew feeds this ammunition up to the turret by conveyor and elevator to be loaded into the breech of a gun to be fired.
"Until now, the only way the gun crewmembers could get to their battlestations was through small manholes from the lowest level of the ship interior. Obviously, it would have been impossible for visitors to use this same access. Visitors are now able to enter the #2 Barbette from the third deck level by simply walking through an opening cut into the barbette interior where you can see the massive 16" shells, the ninety pound powder charges, the hoisting equipment, and experience what no person other than a Navy gun crew has experienced."
There was a multitude of gizmos and gadgets that someone would have had to understand how to use. The glimpse that we got of the engine was remarkable. I can't imagine being down there when it was running. I hope the men who had to were able to pass a claustrophobia test!
The kitchen, as you can imagine, was huge.
The "doctor's office."
Anyone for a swim?
Though it was quite warm that day and the tour took about twice as long as we expected (it was bigger than we thought!), we greatly enjoyed our trip to see the USS Alabama.
She got around, didn't she!
After seeing all we wanted to of the battleship, we took a quick tour of the submarine, the USS Drum.
It was much smaller.
We thought things were cramped on the battleship, but here things were even tighter! I wouldn't have been able to be on one of these.
The torpedo tubes.
Back to Chapter Seven: A Visit with Cousins