While driving along the coast, we noticed a large battleship in the port of Mobile, AL. We craned our heads to see why it was there, only to notice some strategically parked tanks and airplanes too.
“Can we visit that ship?” Dear Husband asked as I consecutively searched my phone for the answer.
“Yup, we can, it’s the USS Alabama, a World War II battleship, but there is more on their site and it looks highly recommended from other links.”
“Do you boys want to go see it? We don’t have but a second to decide, the exit is right here,” we asked the boys rapidly.
“Yes,” they cried and we made the exit just in time.
We figured this would be a few hour stop on our way, the perfect break from a long drive. We were anxious to see the ship first, and with “map” in hand we boarded. The map was actually numbers that correspond to painted arrows throughout the ship. That ship was huge and everything looked really similar so frankly we got quite confused often. White or black pipes overhead, metal doors, tiny signs, more pipes, more doors, and so on. We’d poke our heads into rooms, look for clues about it’s purpose, find it on the guide and move to the next room.
This ship housed 2,205 enlisted men and 127 officers. This tank was truly a floating city. Not only does it have everything for battle (guns, torpedo storage, drilling rooms, etc), but it has everything to support the people needed to fight (laundry, mess halls, bedding and lockers) and everything needed to run a ship (engines, navigational equipment, etc). This ship blew my mind. In fact, it took two solid hours to see most of the ship.
We did locate the machine shop. I wanted to make sure the boys saw this room because my father served in the Navy at the tail end of Vietnam. He was a machinist who learned his lifelong trade aboard his ship.
Afterwards we needed to regroup. Really we needed to just sit. We still wanted to see the USS Drum, a submarine, the tanks, and indoor aircraft display. We started to look at the aircraft, but decided the submarine and tanks were more up our alley at this point. Time and energy were waning.
Fortunately, the USS Drum submarine was so small it took maybe 20 minutes to walk through it. It was like one long railroad car, but pretty darn short being that the men lived here full time. I feel truly sorry for and thankful to the enlisted men who served in these quarters.
We wrapped up our visit by walking Mack through some unique tanks and popped in the car tired and inspired. The perfect moods for some lengthy driving. The boys had plenty of Lego builds in mind.