Day One: USS Midway

Category: San Diego 2014 Published: Saturday, 22 March 2014 Written by Evilmatt

I woke up fairly early and headed down to the coast to see the USS Midway an aircraft carrier that was turned into a museum after it was decommissioned in 1992. 

The USS Midway was constructed at the end of WW2 and was commissioned in 1945 with a steel deck (previously ships had wooden decks) it also had the compartmentalized structure to allow parts of the ship to be sealed off in event of a torpedo or bomb hit and stop flooding spreading. The Midway is 972 ft long 238 ft to the flight deck with a displacement of 65000 tonnes it could carry 100 aircraft and had a crew of 4104. It's literally a floating city supporting its flight crew as well as a massive support staff. The museum has a self guided audio tour and a load of docents and some guided tour sections (through the island where the bridge is).

You start off wandering the main hanger they have a load of planes of various dates in there from prop driven planes to jets and helicopters. They also have a load of simulators you can pay to have a go on. Heading up on to the flight deck they have a load of planes and helicopters. it also gives a fantastic view of the bay and the downtown area. You could see across to the US Navy ships moving about and one of them is one of the current aircraft carriers the USS Carl Vinson a United States Navy Nimitz class nuclear powered supercarrier. There were also some support and supply ships and what seemed to be cruiser sailing out.

After wandering up and down the top deck I took the tour of the Island which took us into some really quite tight staircases and confined passageways. We took a walk through the area where they coordinate the flights landing and taking off where the air boss sits. Then we clambered up through the map room where they did the navigation. I'd earlier seen the ships inertial navigation systems which has a gyro accelerometers and other sensors all tied in to a UNIVAC computer which was state of the art in 1963 once properly calibrated and aligned it can accurately tell how the ship is moving and use that to get an accurate fix on position it also fed into some of the more advanced aircraft for their own guidance systems. From there we headed up to the bridge.

We could see where the ship was commanded from originally it had quite a small bridge and you can still see where the original bridge ended and the extended area begin. It's still a small area even with the extensions and with everyone in place it must have been hard to move about. We also saw the captains at sea bedroom, he had two bedrooms in the ship an at port one and a smaller at sea one just behind the bridge. 

I next went to see the Admirals quarters which has one of three beds on the ship. Here the floors were all blue to show it was admiral country and it would have been guarded by marines. The admirals quarters were pretty plush and next to it was the various rooms the admiral would use to control the fleet etc. Next was the radio room where the messages were sent throughout the ship important or secret ones uses a series of pneumatic tubes. Next was the captains in port quarters which had the second bed and was where the captain would entertain dignitaries and the like. It also contained a horrific animatronic captain that talked to you.

After that I headed to the canteen where the normal enlisted men got their food and the mess areas where they ate it. There were also a series of more fancy ward rooms for the officers and the chief petty officers and the various classes of people all with their own kitchens. The main kitchens were huge and the tour had a beef stew recipe that required some 100 tins of tomatoes. There was also the XO's cabin which was bed number 3.

There followed the support areas of the laundry, the dentists, the sick bay, the dentists, and all manner of functions to keep the crew working. After that I went to see the enlisted mens bunks which were quite dense 3 bunks high packed in to a tight space. The junior officers area was slightly more luxurious but still packed in. By this point I was getting a bit tired and the rest of the ready rooms and the brig I went through fairly quickly. 

I finished off with the engine room. Like it's modern equivalents its all driven by steam but this time rather than nuclear generated steam this comes from diesel boilers. The number 3 turbine (of four) was on display and it was a large chunk of machinery. All the Americans pronounced turbine turban which I found fairly amusing and I was surprised I hadn't noticed that before.

The day was a bit gray to start but by mid morning it was a lovely day and caught a bit of the sun I was out more than I thought as I was going to be as the spend the morning there and then see something else but it took me all of the morning and into early afternoon to see most of it. By the end I was tired from all the walking back and forth in and out of the tight confines of the ship it's a huge area to cover.

So I wandered back to the hotel to get some drink and have a sandwich and recover a bit. In the evening I grabbed a bite to eat.

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