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Aboard the USS Wisconsin

All is fair in love and war, as the saying goes, and on the USS Wisconsin (BB-64), I am absolutely impressed at the size of things on that ship.  Everything is absolutely enormous.  The ship itself is huge, and all the fittings on the main deck are monstrous as well.  Makes a person really feel small on a ship this size.

According to the September 1999 issue of The Shipbuilder, as well as the Web site of the USS Wisconsin Association, the USS Wisconsin was launched on December 7, 1943 at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.  Since the launch, she saw service in World War II and the Korean War before being deactivated in 1958, and mothballed at Bayonne, New Jersey and later at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.  where she remained until 1981 with her sister ship the USS Iowa.  From 1986-1988, she was modernized at the Avondale Shipyard in New Orleans, and at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Mississippi.  In 1988, she was recommissioned, and then later served in Operation Desert Storm.  She was once again decommissioned on September 30, 1991, and was sent to the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard.  In 1996, she was moved to the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, and then on December 7, 2000, she arrived at Nauticus, where she now serves as part of the Hampton Roads Naval Museum, accessible from the second floor of Nauticus.

At the time this photo set was made in March 2002, the USS Wisconsin was still technically on inactive status in the Navy’s fleet, and as such her interiors were sealed to prevent deterioration in the event she would be needed again for active duty.


The Wisconsin stands proud, from this vantage point at the top of the parking garage on nearby Boush Street.

The Wisconsin stands proud, from this vantage point at the top of the parking garage on nearby Boush Street.


The Wisconsin is currently painted in what is known as "Measure 13".  This is the Navy's normal peacetime coloring scheme, the least visible under the widest range of lighting conditions.

The Wisconsin is currently painted in what is known as “Measure 13”.  This is the Navy’s normal peacetime coloring scheme, the least visible under the widest range of lighting conditions.


These marks along the Wisconsin's bow indicate how deep the ship is floating at the moment.  At the time of this photograph, she is floating 24 feet deep in the water.

These marks along the Wisconsin‘s bow indicate how deep the ship is floating at the moment.  At the time of this photograph, she is floating 24 feet deep in the water.


Even from street level, the Wisconsin's large size is evident, though the full effect is not truly shown off until you're right on top of her.

Even from street level, the Wisconsin‘s large size is evident, though the full effect is not truly shown off until you’re right on top of her.


So let's go, already, and cross the gangplank!

So let’s go, already, and cross the gangplank!


The height of the main deck from the waterline is evident here, in this photograph from the gangplank.

The height of the main deck from the waterline is evident here, in this photograph from the gangplank.


And of course, in case you ever fall overboard, this will help you.

And of course, in case you ever fall overboard, this will help you.


During Operation Desert Storm, the Wisconsin played host to Bob Hope's Desert Shield USO Troupe.  All of the performers signed the gun turret the day of their performance.

During Operation Desert Storm, the Wisconsin played host to Bob Hope’s Desert Shield USO Troupe.  All of the performers signed the gun turret the day of their performance.


So now, let's head up to the bow of the ship, to explore what lies ahead...

So now, let’s head up to the bow of the ship, to explore what lies ahead…


The Wisconsin's water system is color-coded.  Here, the red color indicates that these outlets are used for fire suppression.

The Wisconsin‘s water system is color-coded.  Here, the red color indicates that these outlets are used for fire suppression.


Look at the size of these gun turrets!  Look at the turrets, and then compare their size to the man standing next to them.

Look at the size of these gun turrets!  Look at the turrets, and then compare their size to the man standing next to them.

Look at the size of these gun turrets!  Look at the turrets, and then compare their size to the man standing next to them.


The pencil-shaped object sitting in front of the turrets is one of the shells that these guns use.  These shells weigh approximately the same amount as a classic Volkswagen bug.

The pencil-shaped object sitting in front of the turrets is one of the shells that these guns use.  These shells weigh approximately the same amount as a classic Volkswagen bug.


Decking on board the Wisconsin is made of teak.  I find it amazing how solid the deck feels.  It's more solid than some buildings I've been in!  I even jumped up and down on it - no reaction from the deck.

Decking on board the Wisconsin is made of teak.  I find it amazing how solid the deck feels.  It’s more solid than some buildings I’ve been in!  I even jumped up and down on it – no reaction from the deck.


These chains lead to the Wisconsin's massive anchors, which live on either side of the bow.  The chains for these anchors are much bigger than they appear in this picture, being about as long as my forearm, and incredibly thick and heavy.

These chains lead to the Wisconsin‘s massive anchors, which live on either side of the bow.  The chains for these anchors are much bigger than they appear in this picture, being about as long as my forearm, and incredibly thick and heavy.


This picture gives you some idea of the scale of these chains.  Look at the metal that the chain links are sitting on.  This is the same kind of pattern you see in many other places.  Certainly you've seen it before.  Compare that to the chains now to get the scale of things.

This picture gives you some idea of the scale of these chains.  Look at the metal that the chain links are sitting on.  This is the same kind of pattern you see in many other places.  Certainly you’ve seen it before.  Compare that to the chains now to get the scale of things.


Welcome to a stateroom aboard the USS Wisconsin!  In a typical stateroom, there's a bed, a small sink, and a computer.

Welcome to a stateroom aboard the USS Wisconsin!  In a typical stateroom, there’s a bed, a small sink, and a computer.


This is the mess hall on the Wisconsin.  The appearance is spartan, but the chairs do look comfortable.  Wonder how the food is on board...

This is the mess hall on the Wisconsin.  The appearance is spartan, but the chairs do look comfortable.  Wonder how the food is on board…


This is the Executive Officer's stateroom.  The Executive Officer is the second-in-command on the ship, commonly known as the XO.

This is the Executive Officer’s stateroom.  The Executive Officer is the second-in-command on the ship, commonly known as the XO.


The Wisconsin's small boats, one of which is seen here, serve many purposes, including rescuing overboard sailors, ferrying sailors from ship to shore, etc.

The Wisconsin‘s small boats, one of which is seen here, serve many purposes, including rescuing overboard sailors, ferrying sailors from ship to shore, etc.

The Wisconsin's small boats, one of which is seen here, serve many purposes, including rescuing overboard sailors, ferrying sailors from ship to shore, etc.


The large round structure seen above is a boat boom.  Besides launching and recovering the small boats, it also serves as a 10-ton cargo boom, when used in conjunction with a winch, as seen below.

The large round structure seen above is a boat boom.  Besides launching and recovering the small boats, it also serves as a 10-ton cargo boom, when used in conjunction with a winch, as seen below.

The large round structure seen above is a boat boom.  Besides launching and recovering the small boats, it also serves as a 10-ton cargo boom, when used in conjunction with a winch, as seen below.


These are the modern equivalent of "kill marks" that people would carve in guns.  Dating from the Gulf War, these marks indicated how many times a certain enemy target was hit.

These are the modern equivalent of “kill marks” that people would carve in guns.  Dating from the Gulf War, these marks indicated how many times a certain enemy target was hit.


Heading towards the stern of the ship, we encounter more gun turrets.

Heading towards the stern of the ship, we encounter more gun turrets.


This small structure on deck was called "Crash & Smash" by the Wisconsin's crew.  It's one of the ship's damage control lockers, and holds equipment designed to fight aircraft fires.

This small structure on deck was called “Crash & Smash” by the Wisconsin‘s crew.  It’s one of the ship’s damage control lockers, and holds equipment designed to fight aircraft fires.


This object, seen at the bottom of the Crash & Smash, is the Pyrotechnic Locker, which holds various kinds of combustibles.  Remember - when the pin is pulled, Mr. Grenade is not our friend.

This object, seen at the bottom of the Crash & Smash, is the Pyrotechnic Locker, which holds various kinds of combustibles.  Remember – when the pin is pulled, Mr. Grenade is not our friend.


And back closer to the fantail, this is the helideck, where aircraft can land on the Wisconsin.

And back closer to the fantail, this is the helideck, where aircraft can land on the Wisconsin.


Beyond the helideck looking forward, the Wisconsin's superstructure rises majestically.

Beyond the helideck looking forward, the Wisconsin‘s superstructure rises majestically.

Beyond the helideck looking forward, the Wisconsin's superstructure rises majestically.


At the very stern of the ship, the American flag flies proudly.

At the very stern of the ship, the American flag flies proudly.


What are these strange square features on the deck back here?  Turns out the squares are meant to be removed for use, concealing tie-downs for various items.

What are these strange square features on the deck back here?  Turns out the squares are meant to be removed for use, concealing tie-downs for various items.


Looking off the fantail at the very stern of the ship, we see another vessel being worked on nearby.

Looking off the fantail at the very stern of the ship, we see another vessel being worked on nearby.


Besides size, lift capacity also amazes me.  This winch has a working load of 8,500 pounds.  It is rated for 12,750 pounds in a dynamic test, and 36,000 pounds in a static test.

Besides size, lift capacity also amazes me.  This winch has a working load of 8,500 pounds.  It is rated for 12,750 pounds in a dynamic test, and 36,000 pounds in a static test.


When the Wisconsin served during World War II, she carried 2,700 men.  Note that this is nearly 1,000 more than she was designed to carry.  This meant a complete lack of privacy due to overcrowding.

When the Wisconsin served during World War II, she carried 2,700 men.  Note that this is nearly 1,000 more than she was designed to carry.  This meant a complete lack of privacy due to overcrowding.


The Wisconsin's stripes.

Finally, the Wisconsin‘s stripes.  Thanks to Michael Rosa, who provided me with this information, here is the meaning behind the stripes, as well as a better image of the stripes:

Note: The rows are numbered from the bottom up, since that is how the ribbon rack is constructed and numbered.

Row 6 (Top)
Combat Action Ribbon
Navy Unit Commendation
Navy “E” Ribbon

Row 5
American Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal

Row 4
Navy Occupation Service / Army of Occupation Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Korean Service Medal

Row 3
Southwest Asia Service Medal
(Navy) Sea Service Deployment Ribbon
Philippine Presidential Unit Citation

Row 2
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation
Philippine Liberation Ribbon
United Nations Service Medal

Row 1
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia)
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait)
Republic of Korea War Service Medal

On a uniform the following medals would be worn on the right side (Unit
Awards), the rest in same order on the left (Individual Awards), without
the ones below, of course.

Row 2
Navy Unit Commendation

Row 1
Navy “E” Ribbon
Philippine Presidential Unit Citation
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation

The USS Wisconsin's stripes

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