Battleship of Texas
Remember when I told you about the San Jacinto Monument and a bit of the Texas Revolution? Right next to the monument is the Battleship of Texas. It has been there on the edge of the Houston Ship Channel for years; I remember going there with my parents as a child. The Texas Parks and Wildlife manages the ship now and if you have a pass, then admission is free. Otherwise, you have to spend $12 to tour the ship.
Oh, all these photos were made with the Panasonic Lumix FZ200.
See how close the two sites are? Easy day excursion from Houston and from the Battleship of Texas you can watch the ships going up and down the Ship Channel.
Exploring the ship is great fun; I went all over the main deck and even up to the Bridge (thanks to a great volunteer who unlocked some areas). There are two more decks below but I didn't tour those; they were probably too dark for photos and I wanted to get on to Texas City Dike before the light changed.
The Battleship Texas was launched in 1912 and served in both WWI and WWII. The Wikipedia article for USS Texas is fascinating, please give it a look. Currently, the ship needs repairs and a restoration project is underway. Some of the ship is blocked off for safety but there is still a lot to explore.
Yes, all the guns and war-making machinery is interesting, but I am always drawn to logistics. How did all those young men live and work in this contained space?
Think about feeding them three times a day. I learned from my new friend, the volunteer, that on holidays the cooks made pies for all the sailors. They were spread out to cool on long tables alongside the galley and guarded by a Marine.
If I had time to read, I would try this: Beef Stew for 2500; Feeding Our Navy from the Revolutionary War to the Present. I learned from a podcast with the author that on a modern aircraft carrier, it takes a whole day just to assemble all the ingredients for a meal, then a day to cook it. They work 24/7 and I suppose it wasn't much different on this ship.
The photo below shows the actual galley. It was on an outside structure, and there were lift up covers where I guess the crew assembled to get their trays. I didn't see any sign of a dining room for the crew; it could have been in some blocked off area or where present-day exhibits are placed.
Behind the Crew's Galley was the Butcher Shop and a Bakery. The ships took on fresh supplies of meat and vegetables in port, but were replenished by supply boats while at sea. Still, I am sure the food was not what we would expect today. Yet, another thing to consider is ... these young men of WWII had grown up during the Depression and three regular meals a day might have been a welcome change from the hardships some of them had endured.
No, this is not a life boat. That is what I thought, too, but it is a tender used to ferry supplies and personnel from supply boats. I think the Admiral even had a yacht at his disposal.
This deck was just covered with anti-aircraft guns. And from what I read on the helpful signs, there were even more during active service. Just looking at them, all those WWII movies and sounds played back in my head.
I *think* these are 40mm anti-aircraft gun... stations. I don't really have the vocabulary to describe this accurately, but from my research, these are called " Quad 40mm Anti Aircraft gun". All I really noticed was this gunner was risking his life, shooting down airplanes while sitting on a tractor seat.
The area above is locked, but my volunteer friend had a key. I got to go inside, but you really needed a wide angle lens to get photos other than details. This peek through the door is interesting. The room is small and austere. At the left you can see a chart table and the back wall had a lot of controls and gauges.
Hard to imagine going to war twice (and surviving) with primitive communications and no computers.
Well, not exactly.
This is a Gun Director. It seems to be missing the gun sight, but I got this quote from Googling gun director USS Texas:
The purpose of this weapon was to aim the 40mm Bofors AA gun more accurately. It did this via a gun sight coupled to an air driven gyroscope that would determine the lead and lag of aiming by how fast you were turning the gun director in order to track your target.
The 40mm guns had two 440 volt AC current motors on it to rotate the gun platform and to raise and lower the gun barrels as needed to aim the gun. Add a firing trigger to the right hand handle bar. When the operator has the target in the cross hairs he pulls the firing trigger. If the gun captain standing on the 40mm gun has his firing trigger pulled the 40mm gun mount will commence firing and will continue to do so until one of the triggers are released.
But, no matter how many electronics or state-of-the-art equipment you have, some things stay the same on a ship.
Have you ever visited the Battleship of Texas? Have you been on a big ship before, even a cruise ship? Do you think modern Navy ships have Roombas for keeping the decks clean?
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