Tuesday, December 6, 2011

San Diego Navy Lights and USS Benfold Tour

I took a break from politics this evening and took family and friends to the Naval Base in San Diego for the Holiday Lights and a tour of the USS Benfold (DDG-65). It was great that the Navy opened up the base to the public and let them tour some of our ships. I was struck by the professionalism and high spirits of all the officers and sailors involved. There was quite the line to get on base, and the line of cars moved slowly, but it was worth it. Here are a few photos and explanations from the tour.

This is the fantail of the Benfold, where the ship can land a Navy helicopter. Our tour guide mentioned that they occasionally hold barbeques on the "steel beach" (the fantail) during long deployments. You can also see pier security in the background. The Navy did a great job of balancing security with making people feel welcome. I noticed that a lot of sailors on duty made a point of saying Merry Christmas to us.

Here's our tour group on the forecastle (pronounced foc'sle) with the 5 inch gun mount featured prominently. We were told that the spent rounds from firing the gun put dents in the non-skid on the deck. Our tour guide was the ensign in camouflage in the foreground. She was very patient with the questions from our group and had great answers. The hexagonal features below the bridge wings are part of the ship's ballistic missile defense system. On the deck behind the gun is the vertical launch system for various missiles, including the famous Tomahawk.

Here's another photo of the five inch gun with San Diego Harbor in the background.

This is a view across the dock, towards the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6), I believe. During the tour, one of the ships was playing the made for TV Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer on the fantail, which was a great touch.

On our way off the ship, we were treated to Christmas cookies. They were as delicious as any I have ever tasted. Better than Army cookies by a long shot. Beat Army!

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