December 05, 2017

An Anniversary

Two years ago today was my first day as a tour guide on the Iowa. I ended up tagging along on a tour for a gentleman who'd served aboard during the Korean war, and got to see some of the behind-the-scenes parts of the ship. We tried to find his berthing compartment, but had no luck due to the changes made in the 80s. It was a cool first day.

That evening was the San Pedro Boat Parade. This gave me my chance to climb inside the aft port 5" mount. They were going to fire it that evening, and I was younger and more flexible than the rest of the gun crew, so I was asked to elevate the guns. The pointer seat was pretty tight, even for me. I'm amazed they got 14 people in the mount in service.

There were two parties, the one on the fantail for the general public, and the VIP party on the admiral's veranda (O1 level, next to Turret II). I'd been helping with guests, and missed the meeting where assignments were handed out, but when I ran down the guy in charge, he sent me to the VIP party. It was a lot of fun. They'd pulled out all the stops, with live music, a bar, and good food. I spent a bunch of the time running errands for things we were missing (like extension cords) and occasionally answering guest questions. I almost got into a bet with one of the guests. (Actually, he may have been a board member.) He claimed that Missouri hadn't been reactivated in the 80s due to damage from her grounding on Thimble Shoal. I said "$20 says she was", and he was about to take me up on it when his wife stopped him. In retrospect, I had a lot to learn about guest relations.

The highlight of the evening was the gun shoot. We fired two rounds from the saluting gun near the party, and two from the aft 5" mount. The first from the saluting gun was kind of a dud, but the second was loud. And the echoes from the 5" were amazing. It took several seconds for them to die away. Unfortunately, both guns only fired blanks. The saluting gun is designed for blanks,1 and various authorities don't seem to like the idea of us blowing away the Queen Mary with the 5". I have no idea why this might be.

(I was too busy having fun to take any photos. Sorry.)

1 When some of the boats in the parade got close enough to foul the cathodic protection system, I did suggest that we might be able to load it with golf balls and deter them that way.

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