Have you ever seen a battleship? I remember the first time I saw one in real life. I was 10 years old. We were driving over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Fransisco. The USS New Jersey was just passing under the bridge on the way out to sea. Her long sleek lines cutting neatly through the calm blue-green waters of the bay. The big 16 inch guns pointing proudly into the air. I am telling you, the power and majesty were overwhelming. I fell in love and have had a secret love affair with these big ships ever since.
I have managed to get aboard several battleships over the years. I got to spend a weekend on the USS New Jessey as a 14 year old Sea Cadet. I'll never forget the fun I had exploring her passageways and climbing to the top of her mast. The pride sailors had in being one of her crew was inspiring. I also visited the USS Missouri while she was tied up in Bremerton and again several more times since she has been anchored in Pearl Harbor next the Arizona Memorial (another battleship).
They are a thing of the past now. Those big 16 inch guns (that could fire a shell the size of a Volkswagen 25 miles) have been replaced by cruise missiles. The impressive rows of antiaircraft batteries are now modern radar controlled Gatling guns and antiaircraft rockets mounted on smaller ships like frigates and destroyers. It's a shame. Just the sight of one of these mighty ships cruising silently and menacingly through the waves is enough to put the fear of God into our enemies and send pride, confidence and respect through our allies.
Back in 1900 Teddy Roosevelt had our entire fleet painted bright white and sent them on a "show the flag" tour of all the major sea ports around the world. It announced the the arrival of the United States as a major world power and it gained us instant recognition. Sailing in center of the line of ships, there were 8 of these beautiful big ships bristling all over with guns. What a magnificent and awesome sight that must have been!
Here are a few pictures of these beauties. Take a moment and see if you can feel a little of the awe and power of these once great ships:
Live Long and Prosper...