Sunday, April 29, 2012

Aboard BB-61

I got my butt down to Richmond Saturday. A glorious sunny San Francisco Bay day. Getting off San Pablo Dam Road and onto I-80W took 15 minutes. I finally got on the freeway, and headed West. We were making 50-55 MPH until a mile from my exit. I jumped off the freeway and made my way to San Pablo Avenue, once upon a time, this street was part of the Lincoln Highway. I took it into Albany, and pulled into Casper's Famous Hot Dogs for lunch.

Properly sated, I pulled back onto San Pablo and turned left on Cutting Blvd. I arrived at the Battleship Expo a little before 2PM. I paid ten bucks to park, and shot a dozen or so photos before I strode up the gangplank.

There were a lot of people on board, including a troop of Boy Scouts in uniform. Workers were hard at it, too. Up on the bow, volunteers were removing the old teak decking. The carpenter in me asked one of the volunteers: "How many boardfeet of teak are we talking?" He sheepishly replied, "I'm just volunteer labor" his partner said "I think they said about 150 thousand square feet from bow to stern" "Times two inches I replied" That's 300K boardfeet plus waste, I thought...

2 X 6 Nominal Teak Deck
We visitors were kept forward of the superstructure. Plywood walkways were laid down for visitor safety. The old teak deck was past due for replacement. I could hear a symphony of grinders coming from the stern.

I strode forward and stopped at the business end of Gun Turret One.

16 inch guns fire 2000lb shells 27 miles
I snapped some photos and struck up a conversation with a docent in his hardhat. I put my foot in my mouth in my first sentence. I asked about the Missouri-Class USS Iowa. The docent corrected me...the Iowa-Class battleship Iowa...(I edited yesterday's blog when I got home)

I asked him: "Where is the analog place here on the Iowa where Japan signed the surrender in Tokyo Bay on the Iowa's sister ship USS Missouri?" I stumped the's been several months since I last viewed the famous photo of MacArthur signing. Now that I look at the pix again, I think the ceremony wasn't on the main deck, but upstairs aft of the citadel, forward from turret three.

I really wanted to walk Iowa from stem to stern, all 861 feet of her. Today Iowa displaces uphill of 50K tons, and walking her decks feels like walking on the sense of the sea or swell. Granted, she's side tied in harbor, and even with a steady 10kt wind, she wasn't moving a millimeter.

Iowa ships out May 20th. The restored Liberty Ship  SS Jeremiah O'Brien will set sail to honor Iowa's departure with "A Champagne Toast to The Iowa" The liberty ship will flank Iowa through San Francisco Bay and out under the Golden Gate Bridge.

I'ts definitely worth a trip to Los Angeles Harbor to visit the USS Iowa when she fully opens as a museum.

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