May 17, 2019

Pictures - My First Museum Ships

When I was at my parents' over Christmas, I took a chance to dig through the family photo archives, and got pictures from a couple museum ships I visited while growing up. These were long enough ago that I don't remember them clearly enough to write reviews, and in one case long enough ago that I don't remember it all.1

USS Texas

My family visited Texas in 2000. I don't really remember the visit, because I was seven and not that interested in ships yet, but I suppose Texas was my first battleship. She's currently in drydock, and I took the chance to pay her a visit.

Texas, with me in the lower left

My brother, me and Sister Bean in the bunks on Texas

I'm not sure why I'm so much less excited than my brother to be standing near this 14" shell

Sister Bean with one of the anchor chains

My brother mans one of the ship's quad 40mm guns

All three of us with the ship's bell


My family went to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, which contains U-505, a captured WWII U-boat, in 2005.2 I remember a bit of it, but not very much. It's interesting for being entirely indoors, mounted as part of the museum, and for being even more cramped than on the more common American fleet boats like Batfish.

U-505 at MOSI

The forward torpedo room, showing bunks, as would be rigged after the torpedoes were fired.

The ship's galley, which had to feed a crew of up to 56.

The ship's record player.

I'm pretty sure this is the ship's ballast control panel, but this was obviously a long time ago, and my references on U-boats are thin.

The engine room, with diesels on either side.

The aft torpedo room, with bunks. I have no clue why they don't have dummy torpedoes here.

Me demonstrating the size of the bunks. It's less effective than it should be, because I was really small at the time.3

One of U-505's propellers

USS Blueback

My family visited Blueback, in Portland, Oregon, in the spring of 2011. I remember it better than the other two, but not well enough to do a proper review. Blueback was one of the Barbel class, the last diesel-electric submarines built by the USN, which makes her interesting from a technical perspective. She's actually the most modern combat submarine on display in the country, as the headache of turning Nautilus into a museum ship has scuppered any plans to similarly preserve other nuclear-powered submarines.

Blueback in the Willamette River, Portland

The torpedo room, this time with dummy torpedoes.

The Fatherly One had the time to take some artsy shots of the fire-control system.

My brother and I man the boat's controls

I think this is the sonar room.

One of the torpedo tubes, with the door open.

The wardroom, with our guide, who I remember was pretty good, talking to the tour group.

All of these set me up for the fateful day shortly after I arrived in LA when I decided to pay a visit to the nearest museum ship. Things have never quite been the same since.

1 All photos courtesy of my parents.

2 We also went in 1999, which I suppose makes this my first museum ship, but these pictures are from the later visit, and I don't remember the first one at all.

3 Yes, this is part of the story behind my screen name.


  1. May 20, 2019AlphaGamma said...

    Nice pictures! Do the 40mm guns on Texas still traverse and elevate?

    My first museum ship was HMS Belfast - now about to be renamed HMS Belfast (1938) as the name is being reused on a Type 26 frigate - again at the age of 7 or 8. One of my memories of that first visit was being able to point one of the 40mm Bofors mounts at things...

  2. May 20, 2019bean said...

    I have absolutely no idea, as I don't really remember the visit to Texas. I know on Massachusetts, they were locked down. But I hope to get down there relatively soon, so I'll let you know.

  3. May 20, 2019The Fatherly One said...

    Your brother needs a name......

  4. May 20, 2019bean said...

    I seem to recall you giving him one, but I'm not sharing it here.

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