...continued from previous page.
FOR THE FULL ARTICLE WITH ALL THE PICS, FOLLOW THIS LINK TO MY SITE FOR THE NAVAL STATION NORFOLK VISIT.
Landing Helicopter Dock (LHDs):
Wasp Class Landing Helicopter Dock vessels are the largest amphibious assault vessels in the US Navy inventory. They displace over 40,000 tons and resemble aircraft carriers with a wide, long flight deck extending the entire length of the vessel, around 800 feet long. They have a large well-deck on the back of the vessel where landing craft and air-cushioned vehicles can dock, which carry troops, tanks, armored personnel carriers, and equipment to shore. STOVL Harrier attack aircraft (which will be replaced by the new Joint Strike Fighter, F-35B aircraft as they are produced, and helicopters for assault and for close air support fly off of the deck. They depend on helicopters and V-22 Osprey VTOL aircraft for air assault, flying troops ashore. They can carry over 40 aircraft. The newest vessels of this sort in the fleet are actually LHAs which are even more aircraft centric and have no well deck. These are the new America Class LHA Vessels, of which the first in class was recently launched. The United States has launched and commissioned eight of the the LHD ships. We saw 3 of these LHDs in port at NSN when we visited: (Note: Click on any picture for a larger higher resolution picture)
Nuclear Aircraft Carriers (CVNs):
Nimitz Class nuclear aircraft carriers are the largest combat vessels ever built and the maintstay of the United States power projection capabilities. Each displaces over 100,000 tons and is almost 1100 feet long and their flight deck is over 250 feet wide. They can carry up to 90 high performance aircraft, which are their principle weapons. These aircraft range Hawkeye E-2D AEW early warning aircraft, to F-18E/F Superhornet fighter and attack aircraft, to EF-18G electronic warfare aircraft, to Anit-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters to Search and Rescue (SAR) helicopters, to C-2 Greyhound cargo aircraft. The vessels have strong self-defense capabilities, carrying two Rolling Airframe missile (RAM) launchers with 21 missiles each, two Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) launchers witrh eight missiles each, and two Close in Weapons Systems (CIWS) 20mm Phalynx gatling guns, all to intercept and shoot down attacking aircraft or missiles. The vessel is also armed with 8-12 .50 caliber machine guns to defend against small craft or boarders.
These vessels are always protected, as mentioned above, by several other vessels, normally 2-3 Arleigh Burk Destroyers, 1-2 Ticonderoga Cruisers, and 1-2 Nuclear attack submarines. We saw 1 of these aircraft carriers, the USS Geroge HW Bush, CVN-77, in port at NSN, and another undergoing maintenance at Newport News (discussed below): (Note: Click on any picture for a larger higher resolution picture)
OUR VISIT TO HUNTINGTON/INGALLS SHIPYARD - NEWPORT NEWS, JULY 2012
We drove into Newport News, exiting Interstate 64 on Highway 60. If you stay on Highway 60 heading east/south, you drive directly past Huntington/Ingalls Shipyard on your right. You simply cannot miss it. We drove there specifically to see how the new, 1st in class, USS Gerald Frod, of the new Ford Class Nuclear Powered Aircraft Carriers was coming along.
There is an entrance to the shipyard to the right and the gate was open to the large parking lot for the workers next to the large shipyard so we drove right in. We took several pictures of the vessel, which appeared about 75% structurally complete. We then exited the shipyard and got back on Highway 60 and proceeded further, up the hill onto Huntington Heights (nothing too extreme here, maybe 50-75 feet higher than the area next to the shipyard), and I took another several pictures from that point.
We then drove further along Hughway 60 into town and the repair yards there. As we drove through, we noticed the mast of another carrier there in town over the tops of the buildings. US Nuclear aircraft carrier decks sit almost 10 stories off of the water, then the island is another 7 stories tall in addition to that, and finally, the main mast sticks up another 6-8 stories aboive that, so you are talking about close to 25 story tall top of the main mast which was much higher than any of the surrounding building. We drove over next to the fencing surrounding the facility and had a good view of the USS Roosevelt, CVN-71 which was undergoing a RCOH (Refuleing and Complex Overhaul) there. We got some nice pictures of her.
This was a great trip! We left Leesburg about 9 AM and did not get back until 9 PM so it was an all day experience. We actually spent a good 5 hours in the area looking at all the vessels and sites shown above.
Here are the ships we observed at Naval Station Norfolk (there were more...quite a few replenishment and auxillaries, and two Perry class frigates we did not get over to):
Burke Class Destroyers (DDG):
DDG-53 USS Barry
DDG-56 USS McCain
DDG-57 USS Gravely
DDG-71 USS Ross
DDG-103 USS Truxtun
DDG-107 USS Mitscher
Ticonderoga Class Curisers (CG):
CG-55 USS Leyte Gulf
CG-56 USS San Jacinto
CG-60 USS Normandy
CG-68 USS Anzio
CG-72 USS Vella Gulf
Los Angeles Class Nuclear Attack Submarines (SSN):
SSN-725 USS Helena
SSN-753 USS Albanay
San Antonio Class Landing Platform Dock (LPD):
LPD-17 USS San Antonio
Wasp CLass Landing Helicopter Dock (LPH):
LHD-1 USS Wasp
LHD-3 USS Kearsarge
LHD-5 USS Bataan
Nimitz Class Nuclear Airctraft Carriers (CVN):
CVN-71 USS Theodore Roosevelt (RCOH at Newport News Shipbuilding)
CVN-77 USS Geroge H.W. Bush
Ford Class Nuclear Aircraft Carrier (CVN):
CVN-78 (Under Construction at Huntington/Ingalls Shipyard)
We did not have the opportunity to stop at the two, but in Norfolk there is a Maritime Museum, Nauticus, which is very good and where the USS Wisonsin, BB-64, a US Iowa Class battleship is berthed as a museum. And, in Newport News, there is another Mariners Museum that is also very, very good. It has a great Monitor (from the famous Civil War naval battle between the USS Monitor and the CSA Viirginia) center there as a museum where the remains of the Monitor's turret have been salvaged, refurbished and brought to life. I would recommend a trip to this area for anyone with interests in mariner or US Navy history and equipment, or for colonial and revolutionary history. Colonial Williamsburg is right there outside of Newport News where a person could spend an entire day or two. The Yorktown National Historic Battlefield is also there, which is where Washington, aided by the French, defeated the British Commanding General, Lord Corwallis, and won the battle that essentially ended the US Revolution in favor of what would become the United States. And all very beautiful scenery. Just a great place tpo spend an entire vacation.
July 25, 2012