USS Lexington, Corpus Christi, TX February 2017

Some of you see these as email updates.  I tried a slide-show feature here and am not sure how it will do in the email.  you can always visit the blog itself at

https://rogerengdahl.wordpress.com/

If you look at the maps of the Corpus Christi harbor area on your electronic devices there is an odd-shaped long rectangular island just east of the even more oddly curved T shaped islands.  The row of T shaped islands are marinas.  But the other island when you zoom in a bit is the USS Lexington, CV-16.  A WWII aircraft carrier waiting for us to come and visit.

The USS Lexington, nicknamed “The Blue Ghost”, is an Essex-class aircraft carrier built during the early part of WWII.  It was originally going to be the Cabot  but when the USS Lexington (CV-2) was lost in the Battle of the Coral Sea she was renamed to commemorate the earlier ship and was the fifth US Navy Ship to be named for the Revolutionary War Battle of Lexington.

She was commissioned in 1943 and saw extensive duty in the Pacific earning 11 Battle Stars.  After the War she wa decommissioned for a short while but called back into service and modernized in 1950, well modernized to 1950’s standards. She spent most of her remaining time in the Atlantic finally being decommissioned in 1991 with the longest service life of any aircraft carrier.  She was then donated for use as a museum in Corpus Christi.  In 2003 she was designated as a National Historic Landmark and is the oldest surviving fleet aircraft carrier in the world.

It was a cloudy day when we visited, good thing because it was going to be about 90 degrees that day.

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The Lexington is 873 ft long, a very large ship but almost 300 feet shorter than today’s aircraft carriers.  There is a bridge that goes out to the entrance which is one of the aircraft elevators that went from the hanger bay to the flight deck.  A tram takes you up to the entrance.  The place where the ship rests was way too shallow even for the nearly empty ship so a channel was dredge deep enough to move the ship into place.  And then they added water for ballast and it settled onto the bottom of the channel which then over time filled in with mud.  So now the Lexington sits in 18 feet of mud, very solid.  But I have to wonder how long before rust wins the final battle.

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Here are some pictures in a slide show format of the hanger bay. This is where aircraft were stored, maintained and repaired. There were elevators to lower decks where bombs, torpedoes, missiles  and munitions were stored that came up to this deck and up to the flight deck.  There were a couple sets of giant sliding fire doors that could close off sections of the hanger bay.  In this space you could see much of the flight deck structure above, the sides of the ship and things like the sliding doors.  All of it is huge, heavy steel welded together.  It took only 13 months from the time the keel was laid down until it was launched making room for the next one. During WWII the US built more than 1200 major combat ships including 27 aircraft carriers and 8 battleships.

There are five self guided tours on the Lexington. They all branched off  the hanger bay.

The Lower Decks

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This tour led us through the crew galley (see the plastic food), the chapel, the dental clinic, the sick bay, the barber shop and the boilers and engine room.  It is hard to imagine the 2500 men on this ship fitting in all of these spaces.  The boiler and engine rooms must have been hot and noisy. Actually every space must have been noisy.

 

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This reminded me of the locomotive Rudy and I checked out in Duluth, knobs and dials and wheels everywhere.

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Susan was inspecting the crew berthing areas. This is a much later remodel.  In WWII sailors slept in canvas hammocks.

In the Foc’sle we saw the Junior Officer’s and Officer’s quarters.  you had to be pretty high up on the ladder to get a tiny closet sized room of your own. It looked like the only quarters that had their own bathroom and shower was the Captain’s Quarters. But since Fleet Carriers were often Flagships (the Admiral of the fleet was aboard) there had to be other quarters that we just didn’t get to see.

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And in the front of the ship are the rope and chain lockers and the anchor controls. There are two huge chain locks to prevent the anchors from accidentally deploying.  There is one anchor on each side of the front of the ship and a center chain that would be used for towing the ship if required.  Each of these chain links weigh nearly 150 pounds and the anchors weighed more than 15 tons each.  The big red wrench hanging was about four feet long and was used for tightening the turnbuckles on the chain locks.

img_7507And every good sailor needed to know his knots.  This was a pretty neat display. I thought of my old friend Paul Schoberg who was Chief Many Moons at our Boy Scout Camp.  He was a master at knots and lanyard making and taught me a few of these including splicing ropes.

And then there was the Control Rooms and Bridge.  These included the chart room, the combat information center and the Captain’s quarters (which were just off the bridge).

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There was the forward facing Bridge where the ship was controlled and a rear facing bridge to manage aircraft operations. I was surprised at how small this area was compared to what you would think after seeing all of the WWII movies. There wasn’t much room especially for all of the people who must have been in there.And just in front were the Captain’s chair.

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Not much room and old technology!

Out on the Flight Deck there were planes to see, catapults to look at and the arresting wires to catch landing planes.

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The pelican on the horizontal antenna was pretty cool.

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This is the gang-plank sticking off the front of the ship.  There are two of them.  At least that is what the signs all said.  They really were for catching the catapult launching gear if it got away from where it was supposed to be trapped.

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And I crawled inside of this gun mount just ahead of the bridge tower. It had two five-inch cannons and a crew of five.  Projectiles and powder bags were fed up from below and hand loaded into each cannon. The crew had no control over where the cannons were firing.That was done from a different location.Just load and shoot 15 rounds a minute!  The noise!  And these were mostly very young men, for a while anyways.

There was also a mess hall where we had lunch and of course a gift shop where we got another patch to add to our growing collection.

It was a very interesting visit, it stayed pretty cool inside but was roasting when we got out side.  We stopped for groceries on the way home, normal chores.

More later,

Roger and Susan

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