Thursday, October 30, 2014

USS Alabama

Leaving Panama City Beach in the early morning, I rode along the coast passing a few interesting structures.  These are part of "Ripley's Believe It or Not!" Odditorium.  The ship and the upside down building look very interesting.  No, this IS NOT the USS Alabama, continue reading.

I enjoyed the slow ride along the coast making various stops for photos and to simply enjoy the scenery.  Being able to stop whenever you feel like are the benefits of travelling solo.  Drinking lots of water was a necessity with the temps hovering in the low 90's.

I continued towards Pensacola passing Miramar Beach, Santa Rosa Island, Navarre and finally Gulf Breeze before crossing the bridge into Pensacola Beach.  

Pensacola Beach is like any beach town, lots of condos, motels and hotels mixed with restaurants and entertainment joints.  I didn't want to spend too much time here, my main target for today was the USS Alabama in Mobile.  I had a snack by the beach and another bottle of water, the temperature was in the low 90's and I was riding with full gear.  Beautiful white sandy beaches.

I crossed back into Pensacola and quickly passed the city avoiding most of the traffic by following 90 west.  I could have have gone faster had I taken I-10 but I prefer the slower country roads.  I knew I had entered Alabama when I started seeing white fields.  I had never seen cotton fields, only in movies, it was a pretty amazing sight seeing the white fields disappearing into the distance.

I get to Spanish Fort just before crossing the bridge into Mobile and pull into a gas station for gas.  I go inside and ask the young attendant the easiest way to get to the USS Alabama, to my surprise she asked what was I looking for.  I repeated the name, "USS Alabama Battleship" and she still didn't know what I was talking about.  When I said the old WWII ship memorial some other girl working there finally realized what I was talking about.  They told me I was near it, just had to cross the bridge and I would see signs for the park.  I couldn't believe these young people living near the ship didn't know what the USS Alabama was, I left shaking my head.
The entrance was just on the other side of the bridge over the Mobile and Spanish River.  I stopped close to the gate to get a photo of one of my favorite planes, the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom.

Outside the memorial there's a few planes on display as well as a few tanks.  This North American B-25 Mitchell was my favorite.

The Douglas C-47 Skytrain or Dakota (RAF designation) was/is one of the most iconic planes since World War II.

The photo below was taken from the top of the most accessible high point on the USS Alabama (BB-60).  The battleship was the highlight of my trip on this day.  I have visited the USS New Jersey, an Iowa-class battleship and wanted to see the Alabama, a South Dakota-class battleship.  These ships are enormous, have devastating power but I find them beautiful at the same time.  Click the links at the bottom of the post for more info.

The weapons on these battleships are impressive.  9 × 16 in (410 mm)/45 cal Mark 6 guns, 20 × 5 in (130 mm)/38 cal guns, 24 × Bofors 40 mm guns and 22 × Oerlikon 20 mm cannons.  I stood there imagining the sound of all these guns firing in anger at Japanese bombers and kamikaze fighters coming down on them.

From underneath the forward turret with the 16 in barrels capable of ejecting a shell to 22 miles.
Maximum range with the heavy AP shell (2,700-pound (1,200 kg) armor piercing) was 21.0 mi (33.7 km).  At the same elevation a lighter 1,900-pound (860 kg) high capacity (HC) shell would travel 22.83 mi (36.74 km).

This is inside turret number 2 and it's the sighting mechanism used by the gun operators.  

A few bunk beds in the sleeping quarters but there were bunk beds all over, even inside some of the eating or working places.  The mail room and one of the various kitchens.

The 2,700-pound heavy AP shells lined up under the turret and one of the communication rooms.

I think I visited every possible location on the ship but I wish I had more time to read all the info spread throughout the ship.  Had to ask another visitor to take a photo of me, a nice old lady took these shots. She cut my foot on the second photo but she was so nice I didn't want to bother her to retake it.  For some reason most people tend to put the face of the subject in the middle of the frame and often cut the feet while leaving lots of open sky above. 

Each gun was 736 inches (18 meters) long and weighed 192,310 lb (87,230 kg; 86 long tons) not including the breech; the turrets weighed slightly over 3,100,000 lb (1,410,000 kg; 1400 long tons)

Took this photo of the Phantom from the battleship.

A Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17 and a Republic F-105 Thunderchief.  Notice a rain drop on the camera lens.  It had started raining and soon I would be caught in a torrential downpour.

My Super Tenere looks tiny next to a Boeing B-52 Stratofortress bomber.  The bomber is capable of carrying up to 70,000 pounds (32,000 kg) of weapons. Look at the threatening clouds in the background perfectly complementing the B-52 destructive power.

Made one last stop on the way out to take a photo of this Grumman HU-16 Albatross.  I left the memorial and headed west on route 90 but hadn't been on the road for 10 minutes when a torrential downpour started.  I quickly find a gas station before the water is too much and waited about half an hour for the rain to stop.  The good thing about these storms in the south is that they don't last long.  It was getting dark, I find a motel west of Mobile and call it a day.



  1. Great write-up of the visit to the USS Alabama. Enjoying the posts! Thank you.

    1. Thanks Richard. I only wish I had more time to spend on the ship