After visiting all nearby aircraft, and auto museums my son was desperate to visit a ship museum. Past few days he was pursuing me to find one ship museum, but somehow I managed to avoid that by telling none of them exist nearby. However, he managed to find out about USS Hornet. As soon as he found out he was determined to visit there. Since early morning on Sunday when I was still in bed he was continuously muttering in my ears to take him to that museum.
The weather was very much dull and gloomy outside, not favorable weather to venture outside . Then it became huge argument between dad and son. To avoid further arguments he decided him to take him to the museum.I wanted to stay at home the whole day, but lastly to give a relief to my ears I agreed to go.
Anyway, the USS Hornet currently docked at Alameda in Northern California, was commission in 1943 during second World War. After serving for long time it was decommissioned in 1970.
|Aircraft control tower|
Then it was converted into a museum which proudly exhibiting its glorious history. We reached there around 12:00 in the afternoon. It was drizzling , and strong cold wind of gust from the bay making it difficult to walk. Anyway, through a slope we enter inside the first deck. After getting the entry thick and a small video about the ship, one of the guides took a group of visitors to show the ship. All the guides were actually former US navy personnels. The deck ,where we were standing before the tour was actually the aircraft hanger. The hanger was divided into to three parts. Though we saw a long huge hanger, but that could be compartmentalized by two strong heat proof doors. There was a reason to keep those doors. The war ships deal with all bombs, ammunitions, and other combustible elements. So, if any accident occurred in any of the compartments , that can be isolated by closing the doors. The doors were made to sustain high heat generated due to burning. The sprinkler system on the roof of the deck served to reduce the which could be generate by the burning.
From the hanger area we went down one step below by the ladder kind of staircase. We went down very slowly fearing of any fall. Imagine the crew members usually run up and down through those stair cases. We went to the berthing area of the crew. The tiny narrow wired cots were hanging by metal chains. They were kept portable so if needed, those luxurious cots could be hung low to make space for different activities. Then though the small doors we reached the kitchen of the crew. All the doors of the ship were almost half feet above he ground. That means you cannot just walk from one room to another, you have to cross the door. Keeping the doors above the door in case of any compartment get flooded, by closing the air tight door other parts of the ship could be kept safe from flooding. Before going to the kitchen ares we also crossed a small passage. A small stretcher, a first-aid box, saline and blood stand , and even a big operation light were kept there. That passage served as a make-shift hospital for the injured ones. Then we reached the crew kitchen area. Those crew members were eating four times a day,but the kitchen was extremely small compared to the size of the crew. As the space is limited in a ship so, it was not possible to make a big kitchen. From there we went to the eating area of the crew. Before entering the eating area, the rack was kept containing a huge amount of stainless steel trays to take food. Just imagine in the morning the member were coming to have oat meal and a cup of “Joe”. A cup of Joe means a cup of coffee. Once, one officer , named Joe Daniel ordered to serve good coffee to the crew, and also order no alcohol. From that time a cup coffee is known as a cup of Joe.
|The make-shift hospital|
After taking those trays crew would entered the eating area again crossing another door. That means the kitchen , and the eating area were different compartment. From the eating was saw a door which much bigger than the other doors, and that was on the ground unlike the other doors. That area was bomb assembling areas. The eating area also used as bomb assembling area. It was not possible for any one to carry fews hundred pounds by hand. They had to roll the bombs on carriers, so that door was on the ground. Then we went to see the bakery. Imagine the bakery was active 24 hours where the ovens were working above 4 hundred volts. There was no air condition. Only thing was big vent blowing cool air. Compare to heat generated inside the tiny bakery the cool air was nothing.
We also saw the small cafeteria where crew could buy luxurious food. However, the luxurious food were, may be hamburger or a can of coke.
From there we went to another floor down, to see the engine room. The engine couldn’t be run with gas like aircraft or automobiles. The engine used to run by steam, which was generated from sea water which was ubiquitous. However, the salted water could not be used to create the steam. The water first distilled to make it salt free, then it was burned to so high heat, that one could not see the vapor. The steam was passed trough the huge duct to the move the turbine in order to move the propellors.
|Inside the engine control room|
Each propellor was 15 feet long and weighed 15 tons. We went to the controlling room where we saw the steering wheels to move the ship forward and backward. The captain sits on the top send instruction from there, and the crew act in the engine room below the ship. It was not possible to hear anything, even it was not possible to hear what next person was speaking. Few bells were kept there, so, after finishing the job the crew rang the bell to inform the captain.
If there needed to talk they talked though power phone. That was really incredible to know.
All we know the war ships carries a number of aircrafts. However, launching those aircraft needed different mechanism. So, to know how they worked we went to the catapult room to know the hydraulic catapult system. During world war II the US marine used mainly hydraulic catapult system to launch the aircrafts. We saw some domed cylinder inside the room. Those domed cylinder had same shaped cylinder just below the next floor.
The hydraulic fluid was pressurized in these steel domed cylinders before being sequentially released into the horizontal brass cylinder. When the pressure from the brass cylinders were released it pulled the cables of the piston with tremendous force, and gave the tremendous thrust to the aircraft to give the initial force to take off.
Then we went up again to see the bomb assembling areas, and the two different elevators to lift bomb, and nuclear weapons. Then we went to the officers’ kitchen. That was much more sophisticated that the crew kitchen. One box kind of thin were kept one side of the kitchen, with few slots. The cooks from the kitchen used to load the box with food trays and let it go directing to dinning are of the officers.
The box was called dumb waiter. The dumb waiter could be up and down by pulling and releasing a rope. We also saw the solitary confinement room. Can you imagine a jail inside a ship? I was really horrified to see that. Those narrow cells could barely hold a cot.
|Solitary Confinement area|