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A couple weekends ago we were up in Alameda for an overnight and stayed at this pretty Marina. The island-town is a bit lost since they shut down the Naval Air Station and all the jobs went away. It’s still scenic in areas, with trendy and spendy dining spots – and hippies, and a lot of neat old Victorian houses. And in some parts an equal or greater number of ramshackle dilapidated ones.
What remains as a tourist attraction besides the quaint downtown is the U.S.S. Hornet anchored off the Navy pier, and so we went to check it out. It reminded me of a trip forty years ago when I was eleven and we went aboard the U.S.S. Ranger – which was quite a bit bigger and impressive simply because of that, but also because we steamed out of the Golden Gate and the sailors and marines showed-off by launching and landing lots of planes, and conducting strafing runs and bomb runs with live ordnance to impress the Family Day attendees. Going up and down in the massive elevator was a stomach-in-the-throat blast! Woot!!
This time I was impressed by the scale of things differently in the sense of, “Oh Lord Thy Ocean is so Vast and my Boat is so Small.” How Jimmy Doolittle launched B-24 Mitchell’s off this thing (actually the earlier thing but the same size) in rainy, heavy seas is un-freaking believable. Still it was big enough to pick up the Apollo astronauts and park them in an Airstream trailer on the hanger deck for a few days so the Moon-cooties would diminish.
One thing I did notice from the Bridge was the sight-picture.
Using a theodolite-like thing for tracking their geographical position they have a nice 360° view of the Bay Area, starting with the Campanile at Berkeley and moving right around. I looked down at the flight-deck’s 5-inch shore gun battery and thought, “Whoa, if you can see it you can hit it!”
No wonder the Hippies are trying to keep the U.S.S. Iowa cloaked in mothballs up in Suisun Bay, instead of as a live, hippie-threatening museum down in Vallejo. Its bridge deck has got to be taller and with a better view of Berkeley – and no wonder the Bolsheviks though that to have the battleship Potemkin was a crucial asset.
Navy guns have a commanding shore presence.
I also noticed a couple of these hanging from a ship berthed nearby and thought wow, that’s kinda like what Capt. Philips shared with the Somali pirates whom the SEALS took care of…
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