Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Burt Haunts the USS Salem

For the past few years, Nick and I have traveled to the Boston area in October to visit our son, Andy. We are always too early to catch the famous New England fall colors but that's ok since we have plenty of trees where we live and they put on a really spectacular display too. So instead of looking at leaves we visit museums of all sorts and on this particular day we ended up at the USS Salem, at the US Naval and Shipbuilding Museum in Quincy. This is something of a departure for us since we tend to prefer ships with sails and cannons instead of Heavy Cruisers with antiaircraft artillery and radar.

The cruiser is currently located in the shipyard where it was built from 1945 to 1947 by girl power! We've all heard of Rosie the Riveter but this is the first instance I've seen any museum actually acknowledge them as the important and vital workforce they were. Good work ladies! 

I was curious as to why the ship was named after the city of Salem, MA and discovered that in the 1940's cruisers were named after cities, battleships after states and destroyers were received their monikers from naval leaders and heroes. Submarines, on the other hand were named after fish and marine creatures, hmmm ... are we talking the Kraken here? Of course being named after such a famously supernatural city we were't sure what to expect. There were rumors of it being haunted!  

Armed with a sketchy map, we descended into the deep darkness of the inner hull.
All those games of Battleship did not prepared us for a real ship constructed for actual battle!

Naturally Burt wandered off and was lost almost immediately in the maze of corridors and rooms.
In addition to the engines, armaments and living quarters for 1300 crew members the ship was a regular floating city so there was plenty of places to explore. 

 We looked everywhere for him, even at the dentist's! Now that was a scary sight.

That's not him either, I hope. Time to move along.

Hearing that Burt was on his way to the gun turrets and thinking that it might be less scary on the upper deck, we decided to check it out. By the way, this ship was never engaged in battle and all those guns were never fired except for practice. In it's active life it was the flagship of the US 6th Fleet and mainly served for saber rattling during the cold war era and making port visits in the Mediterranean. Once they did rescue some Greek refugees but it's career was basically diplomatic.  

Inside the gun turret it appears that Burt needed time to pretend he was shooting down enemy aircraft. So different from PlayStation! All that real fire power was pretty frightening. Maybe it's not so dangerous below deck after all. There's still more ship to explore, wonder where the sailors ate?

In the mess hall we found this flag on display so of course I had to find out what it was all about. The scuttlebutt from the Boston Globe on this slogan is that in 1813 Commander James Lawrence uttered it as he lay dying in his cabin while his crew were locked in hand-to-hand combat with the sailors of a British frigate. He had orders not to engage in combat but either chose to ignore  them or just really screwed up. Consequently he lost his life and also his ship. In an instance of revisionist history his words turned into an unofficial motto of the US Navy and Commander Lawrence became a hero.    

Once again it appears that Burt is missing, what has he gotten into this time?
Lots of creepy places to hide and holes to fall down into on this ship!

Oh, great. Glow in the dark Burt, at least he was easy to find. How will he ever get past the TSA?

Thanks for joining us on our visit to the USS Salem.

Do you still have your Battleship Game? Do you still play it?


  1. We used to play battleships all the time...on paper before the plastic games came out lol
    And was that an electric chair in one of the photos??? Surely they should have been walking the plank from a ship :D XXX

    1. That's fascinating, did you draw grids? I'm trying to imagine how else it could have worked. I hope my son reads this as he thought he was in the Stone Age without the electronic version!
      Ha! Yes, I think that victim was part of a Halloween Haunted Ship tour they put on in 2013, or at least I hope so. It does certainly seem incongruous.