March 15, 2004

Lady Lex, Part 2: The Blue Ghost

As mentioned last week, I took my two sons down to Corpus Christi to spend the night on the USS Lexington.

As you can read on her official website, the Lex is a WWII-vintage Essex-class aircraft carrier that was converted to carry jets in the 1950s, and then served with great distinction as a training carrier for almost thirty years from 1962 until she was decommissioned in 1991.

We have a family link to this carrier, as my wife's biological father (a Navy pilot shot down and killed in Vietnam two months before her birth) did his carrier landing training on the Lexington. The Lex accommodates Scout and Y-guide groups in a one-or-two-night "live aboard" program. We did this 2 years ago and had so much fun that we were eager to return when our Cub Scout pack planned another trip this year. (This trip also gave my younger son the chance to experience this as an official Tiger Cub Scout and to get a patch for it).

We checked in at the pier at 1000 hours (military time seems most appropriate here) on Saturday and received our orders: Find your assigned berth (enlisted quarters, three bunks high and spaced only a couple of feet apart), make your bed, get some chow (chili dogs, yum), and explore until 1700 hours. We began after lunch with the flight deck. It's amazing just how big these ships are. Even more amazing when you realize that a modern nuclear carrier like the USS Ronald Reagan is almost a third again as long and about 60 feet wider. My boys liked the F-14 and the Cobra gunship best of the aircraft on the flight deck (I was puzzled by the presence of an army helicopter there).

After touring the bridge and the rest of the conning tower, we walked down to the Texas State Aquarium. I visited it first with my younger son, while my older son continued to tour the ship with one of his buddies (and family). I then deposited the younger son with his friends and their families and got to see the aquarium a second time with my older son, who really appreciated it; he and I have discovered a mutual love for fish through our combined efforts to get his own little 10-gallon aquarium established. We got back to the ship with about 15 minutes to spare, and got ready for the evening schedule:

More tomorrow. . .

Posted by JohnL at March 15, 2004 10:28 PM
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