Tuesday, August 14, 2007

BabelCon Installment 6: My Tour of the USS Alabama

Greg and I stopped by the USS Alabama—a World War II Battleship in Mobile, AL—as we drove back to Naples after BabelCon. We got to tour the ship itself and an old submarine. Here are a few things that I’ve decided.

First, I don’t like being inside a submarine. If you ever meet someone in the Navy who has to work on a submarine, shake his or her hand and thank them doubly for their service to our country. Subs are tiny. Way too tiny. I can’t imagine being stuck on that thing for weeks at a time. And it’s not like you can go outside for some fresh air if you get stir crazy, or if you just want to get away from someone annoying.

Second, all the stairs on both the ship and the sub were steep. Ick! I had to take a few deep breaths each time I went down.

Third, the battleship was huge! And it had everything—even a soda fountain. They had their own doctor and dentist, a barber, laundry. The guns on the battleship shot sixteen inch diameter bullets, and they could shoot them for over twenty miles. And the weird thing was that they could do everything—navigation, shooting, everything—without computers!

Fourth, it was stinking hot below deck and inside. I guess they didn’t air condition the ships, and I thought a lot about how this ship must have done in the pacific when we fought Japan. I guess it’s so easy to forget how much our military service men and women have sacrificed for this country. They had to endure non-air-conditioned situations often.

Fifth, the teamwork involved between all divisions of the armed forces was amazing. It takes 140 men to fire the big guns. (You’ll see the big guns in my pictures to follow.) Then, it takes a whole bunch of battleships to guard an aircraft carrier—or it used to. I’m told that air craft carriers now have their own defense systems. Everyone has to work together in order to get just one air craft carrier pilot into the air. That, and my husband kept explaining to me how the battleships were used in Normandy—how they shot the beaches before our boys arrived to give them a fighting chance. Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force working together. Wow!

Many of you might be wondering why I decided to spend three hours in the hot sun checking out a battleship. Well, you’ll just have to wait until Book III of The Elysian Chronicles.

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