As noted in the previous post we spent several hours touring the USS Alabama located at Battleship Memorial Park just outside of Mobile and only about 5 minutes from Meaher State Park where we were staying. Also located in this park are the submarine USS Drum as well as a comprehensive collection of aircraft and other military equipment. Please visit the links above if you would like to learn more about the park.
In our opinion there is too much here to visit all in one day so you may want to pick something to focus on and plan a return visit some other time. We were only able to tour the Alabama before our feet gave out. However, some of the aircraft and other vehicles can be observed from the deck of the battleship.
I must say the self-guided tour of the Alabama was better than expected and I have gained a better appreciation for the massive resources that went into building, operating and maintaining a vessel like this. To me it seemed as if there were just two primary functions to this ship: One – guns, guns and more guns, and Two – the support of the crew needed to operate the guns (command structure, food, sleeping quarters, toilet facilities, etc.). That’s it, its purely a machine of war, with no frills really even for the captain.
The highlights for me were the engine room, and the structure, mechanism and control systems for the big 16″ guns. Wow. There are actually four engine rooms for the four engines and I would like to go back (or visit the Massachusetts) to find out more details on their operation. The 16″ guns take up huge chunks of the ships real estate, have very thick armored turrets that descend to the bowels of the ship and have what seemed to be very sophisticated systems to move and control them.
I can’t imagine the resources that were consumed, the man hours that were expended and the engineering effort that went into the design and construction of this ship – all done in a short span of time during the 1940’s. I was also impressed by the massive banks of gyros and other equipment used to control the ships and its guns. I can’t help but thinking how ultra state-of-the-art all this must have been back then – it even felt that way to me now.
The other area I found fascinating were the life support systems like the kitchens, food storage, and bathroom facilities – especially bathroom facilities. OK I’m weird, but I always wonder how that kind of thing works. It’s not something normally discussed but inquiring minds want to know. So anyway, the crappers were just rows of metal troughs with flip up toilet seats across the top and thin vanity panels on each side. I’m guessing that sea water just continuously flowed thru the troughs and carried the waste overboard. Interesting.
Anyway, that’s my quick take on the experience and if you have never been, I would urge you to go. Even for those not inclined towards the technical aspects, anyone of any mind set will take something away from the experience as it is truly awe inspiring on many levels. Linda also greatly enjoyed the visit but probably for somewhat different reasons then I did.