Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Norfolk Harbor Cruise Part II

This is the part of the cruise that I was waiting for.
 Naval Station Norfolk was established in 1917 after the Navy bought the land used for the 1907 Jamestown Exposition.  However, there were Naval facilities here prior to this.  During the Civil War, the Naval facilities were highly contested.  In fact, it was from one of those where the Confederates got the hulk for the USS Merrimac which would eventually become the CSS Virginia, one of the first ironclad warships.  It was near this spot where the USS Monitor and CSS Virginia fought to a draw in the first battle between two ironclad warships.  The base now supports ships that operate in the Atlantic, Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean.  Currently there are four aircraft carriers, three helicopter carriers and several support ships.
In this picture alone, I think there are more warships than many countries have ships.
 The USS Normandy is one of several Ticonderoga Class Warships.  She was commissioned in 1989 and was sent to Operation Desert Shield during her maiden voyage.  She was the first cruiser since 1945 to do so.  She is equipped with the Aegis combat system and can track multiple targets at once.    In 1998, she was awarded with the most Tomahawk fired by a US Navy Cruiser.  She was part of the 50th Anniversary of the Normandy Landings celebrations.    She holds multiple awards.
 The USS Gettysburg was commissioned in 1991.  She is another Ticonderoga Class guided missile cruiser.  She has participated in some of the anti-piracy operations.
 The USS Oscar Austin was named after another Medal of Honor recipient.  He was a Marine Private First Class.  He died while defending an observation post in Vietnam.  He saw that one of his fellow Marines was wounded, so he lept from his safe spot to try to rescue him.  As he was close, he saw a grenade landing, so he jumped between the grenade and his comrade.  He was mortally wounded by the grenade.
 This is the USS Arleigh Burke, which is the lead ship of the class.  She was commissioned in 1991 after her construction at the Bath Iron Works in Maine.  It was decided that there needed to be a destroyer version of the Aegis defense system.  Her hull has some stealth characteristics.  The Admiral graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1923 and would get a Masters Degree in Engineering from the University of Michigan.  He was known as 31 knot Burke which was reflective of his hard charging nature.  He was able to witness the launching of the ship named after him.  He died in 1994 and is buried at the Naval Academy.  His gravestone bears the epitaph of "Sailor".
 The Cape May is similar to other ships with similar names.
 The rear of the Oscar Austin.
 The US Coast Guard Cutter James was in Norfolk after some repairs.  She is named after Joshua James who was a part of the Lifesaving Service (one of the predecessors to the Coast Guard) and helped save 600 people.  She was commissioned last year.  The James is one of the Legend Class National Security Cutters.
 The USS Tortuga is one of the Whidbey Island Class Landing Ship Docks.
 Another angle of the Burke.
 Another angle of the James.
 The USNS William McClean is named after a physicist who helped develop the Sidewinder missile.  She serves as a dry cargo ship for the US Navy.
 More on the this ship later.
 Another shot of the McClean.
 I think this is another replenishment ship.
 The USS Cole is another Arleigh Burke Class Destroyer.  She is named after Marine Sergeant Darrell Cole who was a Machine gunner killed on Iwo Jima.  In October of 2000, she was the target of an Al Queda attack carried out by two suicide bombers who detonated their boat next to her hull.  Seventeen US sailors were killed in this attack.   She would go through extensive repairs and return to service in 2003.
The USS New Orleans is a San Antonio Class Amphibious Transport Dock.  She was commissioned in 2007.
 The USNS Lewis B Puller is the first Expeditionary Mobile Base.  She was delivered last year.
 The USS Bataan is a helicopter carrier.  She can carry a number of heavy helicopters and Harrier Jump Jets.  I believe she can also carry a number of amphibious assault ships.
 Another angle of her.  This was probably the highlight of the tour.
 More on this ship later.
 The USS George Washington is a Nimitz Class Aircraft Carrier.  If I could have gotten a better angle of her, this would have been the highlight of the tour for me.  She can carry 72 aircraft comfortably and more if she is just shuttling them.  She is one of 10 aircraft carriers servicing the United States currently and each one represents more of an air force than most countries have in total.
 Another tug.
 More on this ship.
 The USS Laboon is named after Father John Francis Labbon who was a US Navy Chaplain who served on the USS Peto during World War II.  He was awarded the Silver Star for rescuing a downed aviator in mine infested waters.  He was ordained a Priest after the war.
 It was pretty cool catching a ship as she was leaving.  It made for better pictures than docked ships (although I like the other shots).
 One more shot of her.

 The Surrie Moran.
 The USS Churchill is named after British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.  I believe she may be the only US Warship named after a non-US Citizen.
 Another shot of the Jason Dunham.
 And a head on shot.  I would certainly hate to be an enemy ship facing this side.
 Another of the Comfort.
 A tugboat.
And this is the boat that I took for the cruise.

Anyone who follows this blog for a long time knows that I love ships.  While I like the ships of the Great Lakes, I love the ships of the Navy.  Ever since I was little, I would read about the exploits of our Navy.  So it was pretty cool to see a bunch of Navy ships.

It was cooler to look up the people behind the names of some of our ships.  This is a reminder that the hardware we have is nice but it still comes down to the people that man it.

I would like to take another trip to Norfolk at some point.  There is so much that I missed.

1 comment:

Bob in Coweta said...

I am proud to 'know' you and call you a friend. Your appreciation of and promotion of our Naval forces is a real tribute to both them and you.

I was in the Navy Reserve and don't know a small fraction of what you shared in this one post.