Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Blue Ghost

Four times during World War II the Japanese, specifically Tokyo Rose, reported sinking the USS Lexington.  Four times they were wrong.  That propaganda and the blue color (not green!) of the Lexington was the origin  of her nick name....The Blue Ghost.

My first sight of Lady Lex (another nick name!) was while crossing the bridge over Corpus Christie Bay.

We visited on a quiet Monday morning, snagging a parking place just across the street from the entrance.  The Lex was built in 1943; decommissioned in the late 80s; and came to Corpus Christie Bay in 1992 to become a living museum.  A small staff and an army of volunteers keep her 'ship shape'! :)


Walking up a long ramp we entered the Hanger Bay across a big bridge like structure.  Later, up on the Flight Deck I learned from a Volunteer that the bridge we had crossed was really an elevator that is used to raise the planes from the Hanger Bay to the Flight Deck!

Looking up at the flight deck from the elevator....

The Hanger Bay is HUGE!  They have created all kinds of interesting displays.  I wish Super Nephews could see the  jet engines with interiors open and individual parts painted different colors.

The ship is divided into sections of individual tours.  The tours are all self guided.  I bet for many people the first choice is the Flight Deck.  It was for me!  There are many fascinating planes on display; a whole other topic and post.

Short steep ladders provide access to all parts of the ship.  A later modification was an ecalator that was used by pilots to access the Flight Deck when carrying their heavy packs and equipment.

I picked up a book about the Lex so I would know some details to tell you; sorry to say,  I mailed it off to the Super Nephews before starting this post.  Still,  I can tell you that the bridge is really high and provided excellent visibility  of the Flight Deck and off into the ocean.   With happy serendipity that offered an excellent perspective of size and distance, a oil tanker ship passed by while I was sitting in the Captain's chair on the bridge.

The bridge is packed with all kinds of fascinating equipment,  gauges, and controls.  I think I saw the wheel that steers the ship;  but don't know for sure.  It didn't look like I expected!  The 2 throttles were easy to identify and took on added meaning when I got down to the Engine Room.

One friend had told me that it easily required 2 visits (if not more) to see everything on the ship.  A couple hours into my exploration I believed it and quickly headed down to the Engine Room.  

The Engine Room was not as big as I expected and absolutely crammed with pipelines to transport fuel and steam.  I can't begin to imagine what it was like to work in that environment with two hugh steam engines running at full throttle.  Sorry to say the Volunteer in that area didn't quite get it that I was really interested in the systems; sometimes that happens.  

Still, it was fascinating.  And the direct connection to the Bridge was the Throttle Board!

Again, thinking about working conditions,  the 'guardian' valve for the main steam shut off valve is OVERHEAD!
It must have been a bugger to close one of these under pressure!

Zipping through the middle section of the ship I saw the food services, berths, doctor office and hospital ward, dentist, library, and on and on and on. It's really a city,  I didn't realize.  

Deep in the middle were some of the most interesting areas:  Air Operations Center and Air Traffic Control.
It seemed very strange that these were located in the deepest darkest places.  That must have been for security and protection?  A touching display was the 'Ready Room'.  It was easy to imagine the pilots getting their orders in this quiet room.

Visiting the USS Lexington was truly an amazing experience.  I think I got to almost all the areas open to the public.  I didn't take time to soak in the exhibits.  Next time.

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