After Encounter Report: BB35
before 14" Turret #1
The klingon relevance to this is that we wore our IKV Melota shirts (class B uniforms) the entire time and thus this is a face time showing before mundanes and potential future recruits.
Though many of the readers of this AER may have toured the battleship yourselves. What you may not know, is that with groups of 15+, you can stay overnight aboard the battleship. Thus I write this AER to inform other potential klingon vessels, Scout Troups, etc. that you can also partake of a fascinating weekend and show the klingon flag.
We were kindly allowed by Boy Scout Troop 1659 to tag along with them. I give them thanks for tolerating the presence of "civilians" with their tour.
There were 52 in this group total. This included the Scoutmasters and one civilian mom (chaperone) besides our entire family of 4. We were divided into 3 "divisions" of around 17. We received the preliminary safety instruction and then boarded the battleship saluting the OOD. The Scout troop then assembled for a flag raising and the Troop flag was raised to fly above the ship for the weekend.
After placing our gear in 5 inch gun casemate #6 on our racks, we then started tours of deck 2. For the evening the tour was of specifically decks 2 and 3, and there was a competition afterwards. This competition was to award OOD to one of the Scouts (or one of our kids) for the morning.
The Battleship is normally set up as a self guided tour arrangement with most areas locked and a few with grills or "cages" allowing viewing into various areas. Since the overnighting is very much a more personal arrangement, many of these areas are unlocked for the overnighters allowing them to see areas of the ship normally not seen by the regular Tour Ticket. We could also ask questions of veterans about the ship. This made for a much better experience.
14,000 hp, 4 cylinder inline (one of two)
While the Scouts were having a snack time and viewing historical movies and presentations about the ship, the adult males were taken out of the general meeting in the 5 inch casemate known as "The Dreadnought Room". We went up to deck 1 to arrange the "night watch". Each hour of the night was a have an adult watch to make sure that the children did not roam the ship and remained in their respective 5 inch casemates on deck 2. It was interesting to roam the blacked out ship in the dark and to walk under those 14" BLR's. During our vacation, a gas well in another county blew. We could see the glow in the humid air and reflecting off of the clouds of the gas well fire even though it was a county away. Just looking off the port side, you could see that incredible glow.
We adults racked out except for those on watch and took turns sleeping until it was our watch time. The casemates were air conditioned for the overnighters so it was not as hot as the rest of the ship. We now have an idea of what it was like aboard a WW1 battleship. The only air conditioned areas of the BB35 as designed were the sickbay and actual food storage. With an 80 degree low and tons of humidity, we have a clue about the heat on board. More about this later...
on the bridge
In the morning, a USCG Lieutenant awakened the Scouts (and we adults) in the military way. Plenty of yelling and two minutes to get our racks cleared and gear stacked against the interior bulkead of the casemates. After a breakfast, we then started a very busy morning.
One deck 1, the first item of business was to raise the national colors on the fantail. We lined up between the 4 twin 40mm Bofors mounts to do so.
The second item for our "division" was to have a "Texas Shootout" with the 3 inch guns. The Scouts (and my two kids) were divided into two teams. Each team was to bring their 3 inch gun from Zmax/90azmith to point at the other team. This was a "quick draw" using a 3" anti-aircraft mount.
each team had to aim at the other first
To assist the Scouts (and my kids) in understanding the realities of combat as well as working together as a team under stress, the next event was a simulation of an air attack. Division 3 (ours) was issued life jackets and told to prepare a 40mm mount for action. Gunners were emplaced in their seats with backup gunners on the mount behind them. The rest of the division was placed behind the mount in a semicircle. The gunners were to run the point/train functions of the gun while the others were to pass a stripper clip of 40mm rounds as quickly as possible. That way feeding the guns was simulated while the mount was moving. At random, casualties were tapped and told to fall down. The ammunition haulers were to take the place of the casualties as soon as the medics pulled them away from the mount. The casualties were "healed" and allowed to return to the mount as ammo haulers. One casualty was fatal and he was covered by his life jacket and left on the deck. (This casualty was selected by the adults by being the primary discipline problem.) When the exercise was over, a funeral was held for the casualty and we pretended to toss him overboard. Thus the troublemaker lost out on some of the fun while being made a disciplinary example.
During this time, the 5 inch rifles were discussed and a 5 inch shell was brought out to show the Scouts.
I like the style of the veterans that run this program. They DON'T take crap from the kids or allow them out of line. Any kid bucks the system and he is doing pushups. In the case of the 14" turret, any kid gets out of line and the whole division is not allowed into the turret. This allows peer pressure to resolve some issues. The 14" turret is the most dangerous place that we are allowed into (regular Tour Tickets do NOT get past the cage into the turret.) and there is a real possibility of falling two levels to platform 2.
Likewise, about the heat again...
The 14" turrets are quite hot. It was only about 85 (outside world) when we entered that turret and spent about 15 minutes in there. It was #%#&$ HOT under that 10 inches of steel plus the spalling shield. You gain a helluva respect for anyone that served in the 14" turrets. The have very little airflow since they must be so solid.
inside 14" Turret #1
We had the opportunity to climb the mast and enter the bridge. At that point I noticed a 4 degree list to starboard and asked about it. The ship still leaks and the bilge pumps for the most part keep it level enough. (Remember that it was laid down one year after the Titanic. It has the same brittle metals as the Three Sisters.)
We were allowed into the Captain's Cabin. Freshly restored and not yet with its "cage". They unlocked the door and we were allowed to walk all of the way in. It was a privilage as this room is not yet to be opened to any public or tour at this time.
By this time, the regular tour time had arrived and they had to start locking down the ship. We acquired our gear and saluted the Scout Troops colors as they were brought down.
award ceremonies in the officers wardroom
The Overnight was over and we requested permission to leave the ship from the OOD (Boy Scout who won the quiz competition).
Thus ended a fascinating and exciting time aboard the USS Texas. The only remaining WWI battleship the US has.
Thus ends my AER. However, I submit that with a group of 15+ committed and paid, a klingon vessel could probably negotiate entry as a group of klingons. If they don't tolerate the Class A uniforms, then Class B t-shirts would certainly be acceptable as that is what we were wearing. Your vessels flag would then be flown over the battleship while you are there.
the visiting group's flag is flown
What could be more fun and educational than this for an "invasion".
You would need to negotiate with Mr. Jerry Irwin about the Class A uniforms. (imperial armor) His contact information is:
281-542-0684 Jerry Irwin-Overnight Program Manager
Strength and Honor
Cdr. Salek Sutai
An Approved Brewmaster of the Empire