Cruising Through Historic Naval Ships
There are nearly 160 historical vessels, all members of the Historic Naval Ships Association. They range from giant aircraft carriers to menacing battleships of World War II, to tiny patrol boats and experimental nuclear submarines. This article combines extensive material from HNSA, with some content from the U.S. Naval Institute’s quarterly magazine, Nautical Science.
The first article covers the evolution of carrier-carrier warfare. U.S. Navy planners had envisioned a carriers-carrier arm of the United States Navy. Following the outbreak of World War II, they gradually evolved from land-based fighters to an underwater fleet. During the Battle of Midway, Japanese aircraft carrier squadrons attacked U.S. Navy ships before dawn using depth charges, long-range bombs, and suicidal attacks. On some occasions, U.S. destroyers fired warning shots in the hope that the Japanese would stray from their planned course and go around. In that manner, the U.S. Navy gained experience in a catfight with a carrier vessel.
It was not a complete victory. In one way or another, U.S. ships came out the victors at Midway. The Japanese did not realize that U.S. destroyers were protected by an inner envelope of water, just as the US Navy was. This knowledge would prove crucial later in the Pacific theater.
In the fall of WW II, U.S. Navy warships took part in the decisive Midway Battle. Although badly damaged, these ships nonetheless fought toting the lives of countless Japanese soldiers. At the time, U.S. Navy historians believed that having such a powerful arm of combat was due in large measure to the knowledge of a craft’s inner workings. After the battle, these historians realized that keeping this weapon close to the beach was a costly mistake.
Nowadays, the stories behind historic naval ships are fascinating to say the least. In addition to their fighting ability, they served as a touchstone for engineers, sailors, and historians alike. They are now regarded as world heritage sites. These ships have been added to the roster of World War II America’s Greatest treasures.
One of the most famous examples is the USS Wisconsin, a former passenger steamship that served throughout WW II. Her dedication to duty was a catalyst to her ultimate destruction at sea. At the end of the war, she was laid up at Pearl Harbor in the waters of Java. Over time, the area became a haven for treasure hunters looking to find Rommel and the crew of the USS Wisconsin. Only luck was on the crew members’ side when the ship was finally discovered by a German U-boat.
The wreck site was riddled with Japanese bullets and explosive ordeals. The American crew took enough time to signal the survivors that they were approaching and surrender. When they did, the ship was disabled and soon sunk off the coast of Java. Today, this historic site serves as an active military base. The local people are constantly involved in maintaining the historical integrity of this ship and surrounding areas.
The United States Navy has maintained ownership of many of these ships throughout the years. In fact, over thirty-five percent of the US Navy’s Pacific Fleet is comprised of historic naval ships. In fact, all of our Navy personnel are proudly displayed in historical museums within the fleet. If you are looking for a touchstone to your past, these historic naval ships are a perfect choice. No matter the time period you chose to look at or the place where you live, there is a historic U.S. Navy ship to be found.
This is just one example of the exciting things you can do to learn more about our Navy. There are many other locations for you to visit. Each of these historical spots will give you unique access to a part of history that few people get to experience firsthand. Our Navy has a rich history that is still being written and discovered today. The best part is that you can be a part of it.
If you are looking for a great way to learn more, consider becoming a volunteer for the US Navy. All levels of Navy personnel are always looking for people to help protect the Navy from enemies. Volunteer opportunities are available in the Navy, including those who are working on ships, man the decks as well as those who are out on the sea. As a part of the volunteer force, you would be responsible for anything from cleaning the ship’s engines to escorting visiting dignitaries around the ship. The only requirement is that you have a love for sailing and be very good at handling your weapons.
You may also love collecting famous historic naval ships. One very popular spot for people to go and view historic ship models is at the NAS Whalesback Museum in Norfolk, Virginia. Here you will see many of these ships that made an impact on world history. Being a member of this museum is like getting to step back in time and relive some of the key moments in world history. You will also get the chance to meet some of the world’s most famous sailors.