Recently my Dad suggested we go over and explore the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park and since it's been years since I've been so I immediately agreed.
So on Sunday we grabbed the Oldest Island Boy and my nephews, Zig and Zag, and off we went.
“The USS Alabama saw 37 months of active duty during WWII” participating in campaigns in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Known as the “Mighty A” she never suffered any casualties or damage from enemy fire.
After the war she retired to Puget Sound, where she sat unused for 15 years.
In 1962 the US Navy announced that the cost of maintaining the war fleet was too high and that they were going to scrap the Mighty A, as well as many other war ships.
The State of Alabama began a campaign to bring the Mighty A home. School children raised almost $100,000 in change and a corporate fundraising campaign raised the rest.
Bringing her from Puget Sound to Mobile Bay is, to date, the longest non-military ton/mile tow in history.
Seeing her as you cross the causeway into Mobile she looks huge but until you've explored her from bow to stern you don't realize just how massive this ship is.
The first thing the boys wanted to do was go as far down into the ship as possible so down we went.
I can tell you that the men who served on this ship did not need to exercise because the- amount of stair/ladder climbing and walking to get from one place to another is better than any workout you can imagine.
It was amazing to see everything on the ship – which is basically a floating city.
There was a dentist, barber shop, tailor, bakery, ice cream shop, infirmary, surgical suite, post office, brig, and just about anything else you can think of.
At one point we passed an isolation chamber for the sick and Zag asked why they would need to be isolated when there was already a good sized infirmary.
The Oldest looked at him and said “obviously you've never had Norovirus because if everyone on this ship got that stuff they wouldn't be able to function – at all!”
Which is true. A virus like that one spreading throughout the ship would totally disable the entire boat.
I wish I'd taken more pictures but I was enjoying wandering around the ship and hanging out with the boys and my dad so my camera stayed in my pocket for most of the day.
After exploring the ship for a few hours we had lunch in the Galley - which, by the way, has an amazing chicken salad sandwich.
And then were off to explore the USS Drum, America's oldest WWII submarine still in existence.
The sub is 311 feet long and only 27 feet wide and is credited with sinking 15 enemy ships during the war.
I cannot imagine how those men managed to live in such tight quarters without going stir crazy.
The USS Drum also serves as a memorial to the 52 submarines and their crews that never returned home.
We also spent some time wandering through the aircraft hangar that houses many types of aircraft and some of the vehicles used in all of the wars America has fought.
At one point we were standing in front of a restored truck and my Dad mentioned that it sure did look different from the one we spent so much time crawling under on Eglin Reservation.
I walked around to look at the sign and was amazed to see that we were looking at a Deuce and a Half.
The difference between this one and the one on the Reservation is amazing.
We had so much fun and even though we were there all day we are determined to go back because there was still so much to see.
A day at the Battleship Memorial Park is definitely a day well spent so if you're ever in that area make time to visit the park. You won't be disappointed.