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Old 10-14-2008, 09:22 PM   #31
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I was about to write more, and my body told me it's past bedtime.

More tomorrow.
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Old 10-14-2008, 09:25 PM   #32
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Oh now I'm going to spew!!


When the Kissy, Kissy is over?
Back to work Steve!!


TarJak?
Ain't you got work to do?
:rotfl:
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Old 10-14-2008, 09:30 PM   #33
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Thanks for posting this! Again, makes me regret the fact I wasn't there even more. And also makes me miss travelling.
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Old 10-14-2008, 09:48 PM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frame57
Enjoyed it Steve! Makes me wanna go to one, exept the hugging though...
Manly hugging! With lots of back-slapping! That makes it alright.
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Old 10-14-2008, 10:16 PM   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailor Steve
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frame57
Enjoyed it Steve! Makes me wanna go to one, exept the hugging though...
Manly hugging! With lots of back-slapping! That makes it alright.
Lol, just keep on telling yourself that. :rotfl:
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Old 10-14-2008, 10:33 PM   #36
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Wow, nice initial post, Steve. I predict this thread will receive 10,000+ views before Thanksgiving.

Please--don't forget to type your entries in Notepad or Word and then paste into the post! We don't want you losing anything due to a browser or forum glitch.


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Old 10-14-2008, 11:00 PM   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dowly
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailor Steve
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frame57
Enjoyed it Steve! Makes me wanna go to one, exept the hugging though...
Manly hugging! With lots of back-slapping! That makes it alright.
Lol, just keep on telling yourself that. :rotfl:
Aye, you know what Jim is like eh?

@Privateer, all done and dusted mate. Job done and off to see the WWII ship and sub tomorrow. Off to the pub now though.
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Old 10-15-2008, 10:31 AM   #38
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Okay, time for part 2.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 10

After a good night's sleep (well, as good as five hours can be, anyway) we had a nice hot shower and pancakes served up Texas-style. Well, Neal-style. Anyway, they were good.

After waiting until everyone else showed up we jammed ourselves into the available cars and headed for BB-35 Texas. The site is right across the street from the San Jacinto battlefield park. San Jacinto was the fight where Sam Houston finally defeated Santa Ana after the slaughter at Goliad and The Alamo. It's a great story, but not part of ours, so I suggest you read a good book or watch the recent remake of The Alamo. It's a good one. Of course I've always pronounced it "San Ha-seen-toe", and I found that in Texas they pronounce it "San Ya-seen-toe". But that's not really part of our story either. What is part of our story is the one Rusty told us. Rusty is the head guide at the park, or at least the senior guide we met. At least he's official and gets paid, as opposed to the rest who are all volunteers.

Anyway, Rusty told us that the Texas is sitting right on the spot where Houston's camp was, and the Jan Jacinto park people want it back. Most people want it moved down to Galveston to join Cavalla and Stewart. The problem is that Texas is old, and the experts who examined her don't think she can move very far without going under. Of course they don't want her sinking in the middle of Houston's main boat channel, and nobody wants her to disappear in the Gulf of Mexico, so they're hoping to move her a few hundred yards east and block her on dry land.

Of course at this point some old sailor said "Imagine what the papers will say when the next hurricane hits...'This one pushed an entire battleship ashore!'"

Rusty told us some of the basic info about the ship, how she was built in...well, everybody keeps saying 1912, but I was sure Rusty said 1914, so I looked and it turns out she was launched in 1912 and not commissioned into service until 1914, so both are correct. Here is a quick history of the ship:
http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/f...xas/hist.phtml

You'll notice that near the bottom it says Texas was hit by two German shells while bombarding shore positions off Cherbourg following similar duty on D-Day. Rusty told us that one of the shells was a 28cm which hit the roof of the armored conning tower and exploded upwards, penetrating the floor of the bridge - which was then directly above the CT and later moved to its current position several yards aft - and killing the helmsman and wounding pretty much everyone else there.

The other hit was a 24cm shell which hit an unarmored area sideways and didn't go off. They know it was sideways because shells can tumble sometimes and the hole it left was the exact shape of the shell. It was defused and disarmed, and returned to the Texas, whose crew kept it as a good-luck charm. It is still on display in the covered 5" gun deck.

We were then handed off to a volunteer whose name I can't remember, and handed our hardhats. Before the tour started we got a head call (that's a potty break for all you landlubbers). The head we used was a tiny cramped place down a passageway surrounded by pipes and cables, and it had a toilet, a sink and a shower. When I asked about the shower our guide told me that that was actually part of the Admiral's suite. Ah, the lap of luxury.

We were divided into two groups, and our group started aft.

Here is the ship, so you can see where we went:








SHELLS AND POWDER

Our guide pointed out that the sole purpose of a battleship is to deliver its big guns to a position where they can shoot at something, so that's where we started.

We were taken down some very steep ladders (a ship's ladder is actually a staircase. Some of them are built for normal people, but most are built like a stepladder, with the steps very close together and some of them about as close to vertical as you can get without actually just being metal rungs welded to the bulkhead - there are some of those as well, but we didn't have to use them) into the bowels of the ship. I don't remember the exact order of the tour, so this is sorta kinda maybe the route we took.

We got to look into some of the life of the ship, and saw the bakery and the tiny barber shop. We saw some of the machinist's store-rooms and chain lockers, and finally ended up below the #3 turret looking at the magazines. Each bag of powder stored there weight 105 pounds (or was it 125?). Anyway, they were heavy and the handlers actually had to toss them (and catch them!) so they could be placed on the hoist to be carried up to the turret. Between the powder rooms and the barbette (that's the circular section that houses all the hoists going up to the turret) there was an extra bulkhead, with a double airtight door. The powder magazine handlers would pass the powder bags to the transfer man. He would open his door and place the bag inside, lock the door and press the button to ring the bell. The transfer man in the handling room would then open his door, take the bag out and pass it to a handler, close the door and ring the bell to indicate it was safe to open the other one.

The shell rooms contained the 14" shells, each weighing 1250 pounds and stored nose down in special slots welded to the deck. They were attacted to a chain-and-pulley, and pushed hanging from an overhead rack to the shell hoists, where they were set, nose-down, into similar slots on the hoist and lashed with a leather strap so they wouldn't fall out. There was no safety door between the shell-rooms and the handling room, as the shells had no fuses, and any explosion might wreck the shells but the powder inside was almost impossible to set off that way.

I had noticed that there were several spots where the deck seemed to be sagging and asked it those were safe to walk on or were rusting through. Our guide said no, the deck was solid; those were spots where shells had gotten away from the handlers and a half-ton of steel had crashed to the deck, dimpling 1/2" of steel. That's 12.7mm for all you furrin types who don't speak 'Merkin.

One interesting feature that I had not been aware of was that to avoid confusion the powder bags were always carried clockwise around the barbette to their hoists, while shell handlers were required to move counterclockwise.

Our guide then shined his flashlight up so we could see that the shell and powder hoists only went up one deck, and everything had to be transferred from that hoist to the one that went up to the next deck, and so-on until they finally reached the turret. The reason for this was to prevent an incoming shell or a fire in the turret from going straight down a single shaft and reaching the handling room, and then setting off the powder bags being transferred to the hoists.

In spite of all this hoist-changing and door-locking, they still managed to shoot a shell every 40 seconds. More modern battleships had everything automated, and could do it in 30.

Most of the watertight doors we had to negotiate were big enough to step through, but one of them was a couple of feet above the deck and so tiny we had to contort ourselves to squeeze through. Only UnderseaLcpl was agile enough to grab the flange and swing through Das Boot style.

STEERING ROOM

From there we went aft to the steering room at the very back end of the ship. When the helmsman turns the wheel up on the bridge, he activates an electrical circuit that tells the two steering motors to turn the worm gears that actually push the rudder one way or the other. One of the things we were shown was the replacement main steering motor. This was interesting because the steering room is protected by armor plating and an armored roof, so there are no large access hatches through which a new main steering motor could be lowered. This means that the spare motor was put in place when the section was sealed, and actually built right into the ship. And there it sits to this day, where we could all look at it. They never actually had to use it, so the one in service did its job until the ship was retired, and the spare in the cradle has been sitting there since 1912.

The backup system consists of a pair of hydraulic rams which can be engaged if necessary. We were informed that this was much more difficult to use, and required two men at the wheel just to turn the thing.

There were actually three places the ship could be steered from: Of course there was the bridge. The second was a wheel in the Damage Control Center, and the third...well, the third is also the final emergency backup system. If the electrical and hydraulic systems were both knocked out, they would use manual steering. This involved the three wheels you see Neal, James and myself posing with in that goofy picture. It was actually manned by 21 men - seven on each wheel - and was directly connected to the rudder, so it took a tremendous amount of effort to turn. Our guide told us that there is a minor controversy over who actually did this job. Apparently the sailors claimed that the onboard marines had that assignment, while the marines insisted that they would never stoop to doing a swabbie's job. Since the Texas was never in that position, they only know for sure that somebody turned those wheels if needed.

We were also shown that the steering room had its own magnetic compass, so the bridge or CIC could tell them what course to come to and they could see to do it. We were also told that since the compass was magnetic, and it was surrounded by several tons of steel armor and many steel bulkheads, it probably wouldn't work anyway and the men expected to steer the ship in a dire emergency would likely be blind and have no idea where they were going. I suspect that whoever was in charge topside would tell them which way to turn, and then tell them when they were headed the direction he wanted to go.

One last comment on the the steering room: It has no direct access to the upper decks, and if the ship sank there was virtually no chance of them being able to get out. Unless it sank very slowly, if the ship went down they were going with it.

BOILERS

Next stop was the boiler rooms. In 1927 the coal-fired boilers were converted to oil-firing, and since this provided more power than was needed the number one boiler room was removed. They didn't renumber them, so the first boiler room is still called number 2, the second #3 and the third boiler room is #4. We were shown the controls for the boilers and the pipes for getting fuel into them, as well as the viewports into the boiler and the periscope, so the chief fireman could see it the ship was making too much smoke. The starboard boiler room is fully restored to pristine condition, while its counterpart on the port side has been left in its ratty used state so visitors can see how messy the conditions down there could get.

He showed us the exhaust vents leading to the smokestacks, and also the open shafts leading topside so heavy equipment could be replaced. These had 'bomb bars' bolted in all up and down them, so if a bomb or shell got into the shaft it would go off somewhere higher up, and theoretically the boilers would be safe.

I was a bit disappointed we didn't get to see an engine room with it's big VTE engines with their exposed cylinder rods, but there wasn't much I could do about it.

RADIO

We visited the radio room, and saw some restored radio equipment and the seats for the six radiomen needed to keep things running there. We also saw the shaft and gears that ran from the secondary steering wheel back to the steering room.

CENTRAL CONTROL

Our next stop was Central Control, their counterpart to the modern Combat Information Center. To get there we had to go down a very steep, very dark ladder. We also got to find out why they call it the 'hard-hat tour' - we all knocked our hard hats several times on various pieces of the ship, and as Rusty had said when he passed them out, no matter how hard your head is it will always lose that battle against steel. We got a short rest while we waited for the other group to get there. We had started aft, and they had begun their tour in the forward section. We met in Central Control and all got that lecture together.

When the fire control officer gets the range and bearing to a target, and it's speed, he doesn't send it directly to the guns. Central Control collects that information and adds it to the knowledge of their own course and speed, plus information from the radar station. This is all calculated together and then sent to the gunhouses. Once the guns were loaded and ready each gun captain would push a button to indicate his turret was ready for firing. The gunnery-control officer in the CC would then push a button to fire the guns. They didn't fire yet, though. CC also contained what was called the 'Stable Element', which was a gyroscopically stabilized firing system. Since the roll of the ship could seriously affect where the shells landed, the Stable Element prevented the guns from firing until the ship was actually level. Toward the end of the war they started to develop the system I was familiar with when I was in the navy, which had a gyroscopically balanced system that kept the guns and director periscope stable at all times. You would watch the guns move up and down to keep on target as the ship rolled.

DAMAGE CONTROL

We then were led to the Damage Control Room, where all damage control was directed from. It contained the secondary steering wheel and had no direct access to the outside. To get to it you had to go up one ladder or down another, and it was protected by an armored box.

Not much to say about it, other than we were told quite a bit about how DC operations were carried out, and it was fairly confusing, so I have to apologize for not remembering to much of it.

THE GUNS

Our tour finally led us back topside, but on the way we were shown the handling chutes for the 5" shells. These also were one-deck-at-a-time, so no incoming shell would be able to fall directly down to the 5" magazines.

Out on the main deck we were taken into the #1 turret ('A' turret if you're used to British nomenclature, 'Anton' if you're German). First we had to duck low under the massive counterweight built into the rear to offset the weight of the guns. Then we climbed through a small door and then into the starboard gun chamber. Then over the ramming tray. Then down into the gunner's control room. The gun captain directs the loading to the shell as it comes up the hoist. It falls through a hole in the back of the hoist stop, so it's horizontal instead of vertical, then is rolled onto the ramming tray. The ram itself is made of short metal rods which fold out into a solid piece as they extend. This rams the shell the several feet it needs to travel to get into the gun breech. Then four powder bags are shoved into the breech behind the shell, and manually rammed home with a wooden pole known as a tampon. Yeah, I hear the jokes, but this actually had the name first.

When the guns fire they recoil 44 inches. The crew have hidey-holes, but the gun captain has only a strap to hang onto to keep himself out of the way, and he also has to not lean against the turret wall, as the concussion transmitted through the metal can kill you.

THE BRIDGE

We went up to the bridge and were shown the main steering wheel and the engine telegraph, and learned that when the lee helmsman is given the order for a speed change and rings the telegraph, it doesn't go to the engine room - it goes to the boiler room. It seems that if the engines are told to accelerate without boiler pressure being increased first, it will suck the air out of the boilers and they'll go out, and the ship will stop rather than go faster. The boiler crew raise the pressure, and then they signal the engine room to accelerate the engines.

They have pictures showing the state of the bridge after the Cherbourg shell hit, but unfortunately they were put away for safekeeping while the bridges is being worked on.

From behind the bridge we followed a little path to the Captain's Sea Cabin. Here we saw the table and chairs where decisions were made, and the cool map that someone had painted on the wall showing everyplace the ship had ever been. Unfortunately when the ship was decommissioned the navy decided to clean her up, and the map had been painted over. Later in her museum career somebody else decided that the Captain's Cabin should be out-of-bounds, and a hole was cut and a plexiglass window inserted so visitors could look in withour actually going in. Later they were stripping the bulkhead for repainting and discovered what was left of the cool map and managed to preserve about half of it. Too sad, but at least we got to see what was still there.

Another disappointment was that we couldn't go up to the fire control center in the tower above the bridge. When I asked Rusty about it later, he said "It's not safe. Nobody gets to go up there...not even me." I'll take his word for it, but if I was in his position I'd sure try.

After a quick trip around the deck and out to the forecastle for pictures, the tour was over. We were asking questions and getting ready to leave when Rusty offered another little mini-tour, so we learned some more. One of the things we learned about was the gratings covering the anchor ports. It seems that they were a later addition. It seems that an admiral was walking the deck while underway and was looking at something on the shore when he stepped into the port and fell down the anchor well. It seems that nobody could find him for several minutes, and his aid was looking for him when he heard yelling and swearing coming from nowhere, and said "I know where he is". The admiral was rescued from his position clinging to the anchor chain and standing on the anchor, and gratings were installed to prevent it ever happening again. And a good thing, too, as tourists are famous for not looking where they're stepping and falling down all sorts of unexpected places.

Rusty then showed us the Unusual Object mounted to the forward bulkhead under the bridge. The Unusual Object is actually a paravane, which is a hydrodynamic device minesweepers use to snag mine cables and cut them, so they float to the surface where marine sharpshooters can blow them up or fill them full of holes so they can sink to the bottom and not bother anybody. Somebody had the brilliant idea of trying them on battleships. As far as anyone knows Texas never snagged a single mine.

The reason the paravane is an Unusual Object is that people who see it tend to tell their friends, lovers and children all sorts of strange tales about what they think it is: a bomb, a torpedo, a midget submarine. I don't think anybody ever actually said that last one, but Rusty said it was difficult to correct people's strange notions in front of their friends, and difficult not to as well. They're planning to put up a sign so they don't have to embarass dads in front of their kids anymore, or pull their hair out because it's rude to do that so they stand by and grind their teeth while dads tell their kids the truth behind the Unusual Object.

Rusty explaining the paravane.




AFTER-THE-FACT PRANKS

In the middle of Rusty's lecture I realized that my old feet were killing me, so I decided my tour was done. Heading aft I ran into Chad, and pointed out the 3" heavy anti-aircraft guns, and mentioned that they were about the same size as the 8.8cm gun on his Type VII u-boat. We took a look at the fantail and headed ashore. I told him that I had wanted to come to the 2004 meet but had to miss it, and he said he too had wanted to come then but he was only 16 and his parents said there was no way he was going to go to Texas and hang out with strangers he only knew from the internet.

And rightfully so, but I couldn't resist the temptation to mention it to his dad later. I asked Kyle "And now that you've met us and your worst fears have been confirmed?"

Most of us older guys were already sitting at the picnic tables and not walking around, so I joined them at the last table. Neal was at the first table, with somebody across from him, and there were folks at the second table as well. I joined StdDev at the third table, and we were happily chatting away when my phone rang. It was Neal, and I said "Hey, Neal, what's up?"

Neal said "Could you ask Rusty when the tour will be over? We have to get going."

I said "Sure, but you're probably closer than I am."

He said "Where are you?"

I leaned out to where he could see me sitting two tables away and waved. He swore a bit and then called someone who was a little closer to Rusty.

We had lunch at Denny's, and then went to Neal's to pick up his guns, and then to the firing range, only to find that it was only half an hour 'til closing time, so we bagged it for the day and headed back to Rancho Subsim. There we had some good conversation until the evening, then we dragged ourselves to a great Mexican restaurant for dinner.

At dinner we met Neal's friend Hannah. Hannah is German and I got to talk to her a bit. She asked me what it was that we did, and, surprised that Neal hadn't done so, I explained. I was talking about picking up phrases from Das Boot, and the difference between the slow flat tones of the voice actors and the professionals in the movie, and when I said "Beide machine grosse fahrt voraus", her eyes widened and she asked me "How did you do that?"

"Do what?" I inquired.

She said "You said that perfectly, with no American accent at all!"

Not speaking German, I was stumped. The only thing I can guess at is that it was because I was mimicking what I had heard so many times playing the game and not actually trying to speak the language.

Later Neal passed out some cool swag from UBIsoft and Subsim. I got a grey SH4 t-shirt, a white SubSim 'Rigged For Dive' shirt and a copy of SH4 gold. I ain't compainin'.

Jimbuna also gave me one of the black GWX shirts they had made up. He gave one to NikiMcbee as well, so I guess we're honorary members.

After another way-too-late-night bull session we finally got to bed.

And the evening and the morning were the second day.
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Last edited by Sailor Steve; 10-16-2008 at 08:22 AM.
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Old 10-15-2008, 11:21 AM   #39
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WE WANT MORE! WE WANT MORE! :rotfl:
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Old 10-15-2008, 12:07 PM   #40
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Awesome story about the tour of the USS Texas.
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Old 10-15-2008, 12:16 PM   #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dowly
WE WANT MORE! WE WANT MORE! :rotfl:

WHAT HE SAID !
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Old 10-15-2008, 12:26 PM   #42
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You left out the part of Neals initial question when he phoned you.. "What ya doin?"... "Ummm mostly listening to you" (Neal had been talking/planning the rest of the days plans..)

And there I was between the two... looking over at Neal asking the questions of Steve, and then turning to watch Steves reply...
Hmmm .. So I was thinkin to meself sez I... they must be rehearsing a Marx Bros. routine or somethin....
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Old 10-15-2008, 12:35 PM   #43
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i LMAO at that little exchange... everyone but neal seemed to realize what was going on :rotfl:
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Old 10-15-2008, 01:00 PM   #44
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Dude, I cannot wait for the next thrilling installment!
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Old 10-15-2008, 01:16 PM   #45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StdDev
You left out the part of Neals initial question when he phoned you.. "What ya doin?"... "Ummm mostly listening to you" (Neal had been talking/planning the rest of the days plans..)

And there I was between the two... looking over at Neal asking the questions of Steve, and then turning to watch Steves reply...
Hmmm .. So I was thinkin to meself sez I... they must be rehearsing a Marx Bros. routine or somethin....
I did leave that out. And I'll continue to leave it out, so you get the credit for remembering it. Thanks.
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