Over the past year I’ve had the good fortune of touring a number of US Navy museum warships as well as one currently active warship. In addition, my wife and I had the privilege of attending a reunion of the ship I served on in 1965-66, and will attend our second reunion in Buffalo in September.
Here are the ships I toured in the past year:
Having lived in San Diego most of my adult life I’ve visited the Midway on numerous occasions, usually with out of town visitors. It is a great museum ship with many of the interior compartments open for view. On the flight deck as well as in the hanger deck are many of the aircraft that once flew from these carriers.
An added bonus for me is the display of the the Tactical Air Crew Training System (TACTS), the on-line training system responsible for training the best fighter pilots in the world – Navy, Air Force and Marines. I was a software developer for that system from 1976 through 2008 and actively participated in the systems growth from 8 aircraft/ 4 missile Air to Air only … to the current generation supporting 72 aircraft/50 missile simulations plus ground to air weapons systems simulations.
All of these ships … Massachusetts, Kennedy, Lionfish, PT Boats and Hiddensee are located at Battleship Cove at Fall River MA, a magnificent collection of ships in southern Massachusetts just north of Newport RI. The USS Massachusetts, in particular, is well done with many spaces open to the public including a 16” gun turret and the ammo handling rooms below deck.
40 mm anti-aircraft gun with 5” anti-surface gun in the background
Although much smaller than the other ships, I was surprised by how efficiently the spaces were set up, and how un-cramped it felt. On the table in the mess room, was a memo from the skipper telling of an upcoming mission where the sub would be transiting a mine infested area entering the Sea of Japan in which the skipper demanded absolute silence for the 19 hours of the transit.
Visiting the Turner Joy was a bonus on a vacation trip to Seattle in August 2014. My Niece lives just off Bainbridge Island on the Olympic Peninsula side, and it was just a short drive to Bremerton where the ship is moored.
This ship was commissioned in 1959 as one of 18 Forrest Sherman-class destroyers which were the next generation following the smaller classes which served in WW-II and Korea. I was surprised by how much bigger this ship was than my Fletcher class USS Porterfield. The ship is well preserved, and many spaces were open to the public including the gun mounts.
Living in New Haven CT puts me just a short train ride and taxi to Manhattan where this museum ship is moored along the Hudson river in mid-town Manhattan, and I have visited several times.
Visiting an active duty US Navy warship.
The Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62)
Visiting this ship was also an added bonus of our August 2014 trip to Seattle. The weekend we arrived coincided with Seattle’s Seafair Fleet Week which featured the Blue Angles and three Navy ships; the USS Howard (DDG-83), USS Chancellorsville (CG-62) and the USS Essex (LHD-2). I waited in a long 2 hour line to board the Chancellorsville, but it was worth the wait.
This was the first time I stepped aboard a modern US Navy Destroyer/Cruiser class ship since I last stepped off the reserve ship USS Shields (DD-596) in 1969. It’s quite an impressive ship, and it’s size dwarfs the WW-II Fletcher class ships I served on in the 1960’s. Almost wish I could reenlist.
The week of September 7, 2014 will find Diana and I in Buffalo NY for our second reunion of the USS Balch/Porterfield association. You can read my report of our first reunion at Stepping Into a History Book: A US Navy Destroyer Reunion.
Buffalo is home port of the USS The Sullivans (DD-537) and the Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park. We are looking forward to meeting once more with our newfound shipmates from the Balch and Porterfield as well as seeing the ships there. The Sullivans is a Fletcher class destroyer almost identical to the two tin cans I served on in the 1960s.
How can I close out this post without an unabashed plug for my new book!
You can preview and purchase a copy by clicking on the book image below.
Don Johnson – August 2014