The landing ship dock (LSD) USS Rushmore was open to the public today at the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station. The offical tour hours were 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. I arrived at the liberty gate at 1:00 p.m. with Jubalettes 3 and 4 in tow. Base personnel warned it was a three hour wait.
I thought, "Nah, it can't be that long."
It wasn't. It was two-and-half hours long. With a cold wind knifing through us. The base public affairs director is an old friend of mine, and he said they were expecting 2,000 people and ended up with about 5,000.
But it was worth it. Jubalettes 3 and 4 were troopers and thoroughly enjoyed the tour. They had never been on board a naval vessel, and I as glad for them to get at least some close up look at the men, women and equipment that defend our nation and our liberty.
The ship is essentially built around this cavernous hold:
We were led in groups of 15 or so through the ship's superstructure, the bridge and all around the decks. The crew were very friendly and hospitable.
Below is the Vulcan defense system, and the tubes that fire chaff and flares to confuse incoming missiles:
While the wait was long, the experience was worth it. I hope the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station does this again in the near future.