Monday, May 2, 2011

More Military Power Than You Can Shake a Stick At

I am starting off this picture heavy post with a few words of explanation. San Diego is home of our entire Pacific fleet of ships so before this trip, I had been searching for a way that I could tour the harbor to see these massive things. I had naive hopes that I might be able to walk down some pier where they were docked and see them that way but unless I were to suddenly become a boat mechanic, I don't think I had a chance. So after researching, I opted for what I felt was the next best thing, a boat tour. Of course the boats really didn't advertise that they gave tours of the Pacific fleet but they did advertise tours or either the north bay, south bay or both. Being familiar with the satellite views, I knew that I would be plenty close to the military fleet to satisfy my curiosity so I signed up for the full bay tour. Below are the pictures that pertain to the Pacific fleet from that tour. The other pictures will probably be shown in a future post. Also note that all boat names are from my recollection and are subject to being wrong due to the time elapsed and the decreasing vigor of my firing synapses. 

Please forgive the lack of close up on this picture. My camera initially crapped out and wouldn't zoom out, possibly from the sand I got in it from my gulf trip this past Christmas. By the time I got it working, we were past this area so you need to open up this picture and zoom in close to see the Los Angeles class nuclear sub docked in approximately the center of this picture. On the right center is a pier and this is our military dolphin training center which is why those sausage-like barriers are in place with fences below them that go to the bay floor. They train the dolphins to sniff out mines and do remote surveillance. Although not mentioned due to political correctness, I wouldn't be surprised if the dolphins could also deliver explosives to enemy ships.

When we got to the south side of the bay where most of the routine maintenance of war ships takes place, we had a visitor keeping tabs on us. This little military police boat kept us under surveillance and as I was snapping pictures, I couldn't help but wonder if my picture was being taken and run through some facial recognition database.

Although they told me what this boat was, i have completely forgotten. I suspect it was a boat that could launch amphibious vehicles from the back end judging by the large gate on the stern.

The ship in the foreground is the guided missile destroyer the U.S.S. Milius which is from the Arleigh Burke class. The ship in the background is the U.S.S. Peleliu which is a Tarawa class amphibious assault vehicle that I believe mostly carries an assortment of helicopters.

This one is the U.S.S. Dubuque which is an Austin Class Amphibious Transport Dock ship to help land Marines and their gear onto shores around the world.

This one is the U.S.S. New Orleans which also is an Amphibious Transport Dock ship to help land Marines and their gear onto shores around the world but of the newer San Antonio Class.

This ship is the U.S.S. Makin Island which is a Wasp class Amphibious Assault ship that mostly carries an assortment of attack helicopters.

This one is the U.S.S. Dewey which is another Arleigh Burke class Guided Missile Destroyer.

This one is the U.S.S. Mercy which is the largest hospital ship in the world and last saw duty in the Indonesia tsunami.

The ship on the left is the U.S.S. Pearl Harbor which is Harpers Ferry class Dock Landing ship but the one on the right I can't remember nor can I see any hull number to help me identify it. I suspect that by comparing it to the next two ships seen below, that it is a recently completed Lewis and Clark class Dry Cargo ship.

As alluded to above, these two ships are Lewis and Clark class Dry Cargo ships currently under construction. The one in the background is nearly complete compared to the one in the foreground with only a partial hull completed.

This ship is the U.S.S. Bonhomme Richard which is another Wasp class Amphibious Assault ship and was currently dry docked for maintenance. What I wouldn't give to be walking along side the hull inside the dock.

This ship is the U.S.S. Rushmore which is another Dock Landing Ship but of the Whidbey Island class.

This ship is the U.S.S. Princeton Ticonderoga class Guided Missile Cruiser with the towers currently wrapped so they could sandblast and repaint them. She was crippled in Desert Storm by two land mines but has since been repaired and is in good order.

I don't have much information on this one but according to Wikipedia, this is an experimental four hulled ship built by Lockheed Martin called the Sea Slice which is supposed to be a wickedly fast and stable platform from which guns can be fired.

Surveillance from the air? Actually there were lots of helicopters flying overhead all during my stay in San Diego. There were at least 50 of them on the ground in front of two huge hangars at the north end of Coronado Island where the military has their base located.

Finally coming full circle, this is the U.S.S. Midway which was one dock over from the pier on which the harbor tour boat I was riding was docked signalling that my trip was over. I enjoyed seeing all the ships but really wished I could have seen the largest in the world, the U.S.S. Ronald Regan which is currently on duty in Japan.


sage said...

Thanks for the tour. I wish I had the contract to sell gray paint to the navy!

You are right about security, now (and it may even be tougher today after yesterday's activities). Near my parents home there is Sunny Point, the East Coast munition terminal along the Cape Fear River. They no longer let you get very close and there is always a fast boat that comes to check you out if you are heading in the direction of the terminal.

R. Sherman said...

Very cool stuff. Seeing the number of ships being maintained, and realizing those are only a small number of the total in commission, makes one wonder why any nation would want to take us on on the high seas. And we've got bases like this all over, plus smaller installations ad infinitum.

Thanks for the tour.


PhilippinesPhil said...

Now that, as a nation, we've apparently decided that free or subsidized healthcare for every one of us must be added to our list of "rights," we need to come to the same de facto conclusion that the Euros fell into long ago, when they opted to let us do the free world's military heavy lifting. We have to make a choice between having and maintaining all that military hardware and the enormous power and responsibility that comes with it, or being able to pay for a nanny state, where all Americans are taken care of, cradle to grave, as they are now in Western Europe. We can't do both. I'm not even sure we can do the one even, as even the Euros are apparently going broke trying to do it...