The keel of the USS Alabama was laid in 1940 as hostilities across the Atlantic were heating up in Europe between the British, French and Nazi’s, but America was not yet at war. This particular ship was the 8th to bare the name Alabama and completed her sea trials in 1942. Weighing 44,500 tons and 680 feet from bow to stern, She was immediately put into service in the Atlantic Ocean sailing from Norfolk, Virginia with a job of protecting Russian and British convoys. After a brief period in this role, The Alabama was sent to the Pacific clearing the Panama Canal in August 1943.
In the Pacific the USS Alabama and her crew of sailors and marines served valiantly in the Pacific war against Japan, accomplishing all of her assigned tasks. She saw 37 months of action, participating in nine major battles of the Pacific. During this time she never saw any causalities or suffered damage from enemy fire; a huge accomplishment!
After the end of the war, the Alabama dropped anchor in Tokyo briefly and then took on 3700 servicemen to travel back to the US arriving in at the Port of San Francisco on Navy Day, 27 October 1945, bringing our boys home form war.
Her service was complete. Unlike many ships of the time, the USS Alabama only saw action in WWII and was decommissioned quickly; 1947.
Due to the cost of trying to maintain the “Peacetime Navy”, in 1962 it was decided that the Alabama (along with several other great ships) would be scrapped. Shortly thereafter a campaign was launched to bring the mighty ship to Alabama as a memorial to the many sailors and soldiers from Alabama who had served.
Alabama school children raised almost $100,000 in mostly nickels, dimes, and quarters to help bring her home to her final resting place.
Having parents born and raised in Alabama as kids of the Baby Boom, the USS Alabama means a lot to both of them. They were two of the school children who donated their hard-earned changed to help with this effort. They were given a gift for their contributions; each received a lifetime pass to visit the great battleship in Mobile Bay.
In 1972, seven years after the ship opened to the public, they finally got a chance to use those passes for the first time. It was also my first visit to the beautiful and historic ship.
|Dad & Momma were just 22 years old here!|
|The Vietnam Memorial|
|Replica of the Vietnam Wall containing the names of Alabama’s men and women who were killed in this conflict. My father has several classmates whose names are etched here. It’s a very moving and sobering spot to visit.|
|Seeing the open guns reminded me of how vulnerable of our servicemen really are when they are out fighting for us.|
|The travels and battles of the USS Alabama|
|Bunks for the sailors and marines onboard…. close quarters for sure!|
|Shipboard amenities for servicemen away from home.|
|The command center of the ship|
|The Alabama’s service record is permanently recorded on the side of the ship.|
While touring the ship I learned so much about the lives of the men on board, how they lived everyday and how they fought to protect our freedoms.
One thing I found so fascinating was the Presentation silver displayed. While it was removed for it’s own protection during the war, generally it is left on board.
Here’s little history on the presentation silver: During the 18th century it became traditional for cities and states to present silver serviced to the warships bearing their names upon commissioning. This silver service was designed for use on formal occasions such as port visits attended by local dignitaries. The US Navy withdrew silver services from all warships in WWII, leaving Alabama’s service stored in the State’s archives during the ship’s active service. The silver was placed on board the USS Alabama for display in 1967 but has never been formally transferred from the state archives.
|The USS ALABAMA’s presentation silver.|
|Audley in the control rooms of the sub looking at navigation charts.|
|Yes, those are beds, both over and under the torpedo. Yes, that is how our sailors sleep.|
|The tiny kitchen where meals were cooked for the men serving on board|
|The officers were spoiled, just a little, although they still didn’t have much space.|
|Some of the USS Drum’s presentation silver|
|The USS Drum’s service record in WWII.|
|Audley & I on deck of the USS DRUM.|