On Wisconsin, On Wisconsin…

No, not singing the University of Wisconsin school fight song here though we did do that once in San Antonio when we attended the Alamo Bowl by accident. But that is another story for another day on another blog. Now back to Cbay where we visited the Battleship Wisconsin among other sights.

After a day of work yesterday it was only appropriate that today should be devoted to play. So after the Sunday morning ritual we have of watching Sunday Morning, we headed off with Bob and Linda of “Erika Lin” to the Nauticus Complex just down the street which has a variety of things to offer. We bought combination tickets for all of it including a two hour harbor tour of the Navy base.

But first things first, on to the Wisconsin, one of only four Iowa Class Battlewagons ever completed. They were the Iowa, the Alabama, the Missouri and the Wisconsin. Two others, the Kentucky and the Illinois were started but never finished when the heyday of battleships was over.

Wisconsin sports nine 16 inch guns that throw a 1700 pound exploding shell. These are the largest guns ever put on an American ship and the Commander says they did not need to explode because when you hear a shell as big as a Volkswagon come at you it does not need to explode to do the job but it does anyway.

Wisconsin served in several wars from WWII through the first Gulf War with distinction. It bombarded Iwo Jima in WWII and later fired the first Tomahawk Missiles into Kuwait during the rout of Iraqi troops that had invaded their neighbor Kuwait.

A story is told from the Korean Conflict. Wisconsin had moved into North Korean coastal waters to shell a railroad line in order to disrupt supplies being sent to troops invading South Korea. After blowing up the railroad Wisconsin was pulling back out to sea when a small shore battery on an island fired four six inch shells at her. Three missed and one was unlucky enough to hit. Unlucky for the North Koreans manning the shore battery that is. See Wisconsin had never been hit by enemy fire and never would be again. This shell poked a hole around 18 inches in the deck and three sailors were injured by shrapnel but none were killed.

The Captain at the time ordered all nine 16 inch guns to return fire at once. When he was finished there was nothing left of the shore battery, not even a trace. One of the escorting destroyers sent a flag signal to the Wisconsin containing only two words “Temper tantrum?” Those were the days when men went down to the sea in ships.

Years later the Wisconsin and a destroyer collided in a dense fog off Hampton Roads, Virginia where we are now located. Caved the bow of the Wisconsin in pretty good. So what did they do? They brought Wisconsin right into the Norfolk Navy Yard. Then they took the bow of the Kentucky which was nearly completed and cut it off and towed it down to the Wisconsin and welded it on. She was back at sea within a month. That was in 1956 when we got things done. It was also during the Cold War and they thought they might need her at any time.

Our two hour harbor tour was aboard a two decker boat. We got to see dozens of our nation’s finest ships in for refitting or repairs. This is an amazing place and the Commander has driven most all of them from a single screw destroyer to a four screw carrier and we can’t even keep from hitting bottom some days in a Bayliner. He told me today we must pay more attention to tides and moon.

Speaking of moon, we did not get to see the huge moon last night due to being completely socked in by rain but it had it’s effect. Down in the area where we ran aground in the Medway River, 2 trawlers, 4 sailboats and a barge all ran aground in the ICW due to tides that were two feet lower than normal. So it is not just Cbay that can find the bottom.

Tomorrow we will take the ferry over to Portsmouth to see what is there and we will stop by the Rendezvous.