Thursday, August 20, 2015

"Mini-Tour" of USS Halsey DDG-97

This is a couple of weeks ago, from "Navy Days", and I hope I haven't forgotten too much of it!

You had to get an online ticket to see any of the ships that were in port, and which one you got to see was pretty much a random thing, although I heard you could get out of line and wait for a different group if you wanted to visit a specific ship.

It didn't matter to me, so I wound up getting to see some of the USS Halsey.

The Halsey is an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, and is as far removed from the "Tin Cans" of WWI as a 747 is from the Wright Flyer.

This is the forward ramp leading to the ship, as seen from the line I was in:

The first thing I saw once I was on the main deck was a display of the Commanding Officers of the ship:

And, of course, the ship's placard:

Going through an exterior (it was open to the weather on both ends) pssageway, I snapped a picture of one of the frame numbering signs. It's identical to the ones painted on the Iowa, that were done back in the 1980's, and they probably date back much earlier. I'm sure some of my regular visitors will fill me in on the details!

I can read these well enough to know where I am on the ship, which is real handy yo know if you have to leave the compartment in a hurry!

And at the forward end of this portal was a very interesting sign:

This is what the sign is referring to, the forward section of the Vertical Launching System, consisting of 32 tubes:

According to the crew, each tube can be can be loaded with several different types of missiles, from the Surface-to-Air SM-2 "Standard" missile to Tomahawk cruise missiles, and antisubmarine ASROC missiles.

Just forward of the VLS is the ship's gun, a 5",  62 caliber, Mark 45 mod 4 rapid firing gun:

It's capable of lobbing a shell over 20 miles, and has a variety of ammunition it can use.

Here's the "business end":

Sorry for the crummy picture. My "fill in" flash just wasn't big enough. Next time I'll bring my BIG strobe to fill in the shadows.

We then started down the port side of the ship, stopping at a pintle-mounted SAW:

This was one of the longer stops on our little tour, as everybody wanted their picture taken "shooting" the gun. Out of the 10 or so people who posed with the gun, the only one who did it right was another old guy like me. He said it "fit better" than the M60 he used in Nam!

The sailor in the picture was our guide for the tour. Quite a jovial fellow who's been in the Navy some years, and was planning on making it his career.

God Bless You, sir!

And of course, the ships' bell:

Next was this little device, which I'm sure some of you know well:

In Ye Dayes of Olde, this was how they'd transfer a person between ships.

Yes, you could get quite wet, especially if the guys handling the lines didn't like you.

They don't really use it anymore, as it takes about 20~30 minutes to set up the ships in position, shoot the lines over, and then get everything else ready.

He told us they could have one of the RIBs manned and in the watter in under 7 minutes, so guess which method they use.....

Back on the starboard side, and heading aft.....

First stop was a CIWS gun:

This is the latest-and-greatest model, with a "surface target" engagement mode. The ones on the Iowa were strictly for engaging airborne or sea-skimming targets, but this one can go after small craft.

Note the optical/TV sight with the wiper blade on it, just above the gun barrels:

And yes, it was loaded with live rounds:

The ship also carries torpedos, but not the big ones like a Destroyer would have had during WWII.

These are Mk 46 "lightweight" torpedos, used against smaller surface targets, and submarines.

Although considering the range they have (12,000 yards), by the time a hostile sub gets that close, you're probably already taking on water and going down!

Here our guide and the lady sailor are explaining about the different types of missiles loaded in the aft VLS, consisting of 64 launchers:

IIRC, that's the USS Bunker Hill off the stern of the Halsey.

And another warning sign:

Some of the missiles have semi-active radar on them, which means the target is illuminated by the ship's radar until the missile gets within a certain range, and then the missile's internal radar takes over.

These are the target illuminator antennas:

They might look like they're pointed at the sky, but because they use an offset feed, they're actually pointed down much lower, towards the horizon:

And the helo deck:

And a warning sign I'm very familiar with:

One thing I kept noticing were what I thought were "fire fighting" nozzles all over the place:

I think these might serve a dual purpose; besides possibly being for fire suppression, I'll bet they're also used for NBC washdown.

The plaque between the nozzles is interesting, but I'm not sure what it means:

And the Mk 36 SRBOC dispensers, just like on the Iowa:

On our way back to the pier, I got some better pictures of this 25mm gun:

I asked if it was similar to the Bushmaster that the Bradley carries, but the crewman I asked didn't know, as he was from some different department. All he knew was that it was fully automatic.

Turns out it's a "Navalized" version of the Bushmaster.

Back on dry land, our guide  showed us some firefighting equipment, and explained how it was similar to, but different from, the equipment used on land.

For instance, your local Fire Department has a separate coat and pants for their turn-out gear. The Navy uses a one-piece garment to keep the heat from getting under the coat as they descend ladders, something their land-based brothers don't generally do.

I didn't get his name, but he was a great tour guide, very friendly and knowledgeable and an asset to our Country, and I'm sure his ship.

Bravo Zulu!

I could have gone back the next day and gotten a behind-the-scenes tour of the Bunker Hill that had been arranged for the Iowa crew, but we had something planned for that day, so I couldn't make it.


  1. "The Little Beavers - DESRON 23" is Destroyer Squadron 23's badge.

    Thanks for that tour, my friend. Really takes me back, even if I was on one of those WWII destroyers everyone likes to make fun of, now. :)

  2. Yeah, she seemed to be a well-run, happy ship, although I'm sure they have a few "malcontents" aboard!

    Were you on a Fletcher class?

  3. Absolutely fascinating...

  4. Yeah, it's about the only thing I'll miss when we move, besides my friends.

    BUT....that's 18~24 months out, so I'll have time to tie up a lot of loose ends on things!

  5. Yep, those are fresh water washdown nozzles, and the plaque is Destroyer Squadron 23, which is the squadron USS HALSEY is currently attached to. Nice pics, and glad you had fun with it!

  6. In the summer of 1972 I spent 3 months on the U.S.S. Bainbridge, DLGN-25. It was part of my reserve training. We went from Long Beach to Pearl Harbor, then back to Long Beach where the reservists were disembarked. As I'm sure you know, Bainbridge was a nuclear powered ship, one of the first. We took part in an exercise with the U.S.S. Enterprise battle group, and I can still remember seeing that monstrously big carrier on the horizon. The bosun's mates on Bainbridge told me there were two Olympic sized swimming pools on the carrier and I believed them for a long time.

    1. Small world!

      One of the guys I worked with at Boeing had been on the Bainbridge for a couple of tours in the middle/late 1980's.

    2. At one time or other, I did full scale floats, NATO exercises, or mini-floats on the U.S.S. Raleigh, the U.S.S. Manitowac, the U.S.S. Iwo Jima, the U.S.S. Barnstable County, and I did CPX or deployed staff on the U.S.S. Mount Whitney and the U.S.S. New Jersey. U.S.S. Puget Sound was the 6th Fleet flagship when I was on the staff 1982-1985, and I spent way more time on that ship than I wanted to. One of the guys who served on her also is CC, who comes by my blog. CPX might last two weeks, deployed staff was only for a couple of nights for staff coordination. I think that every single vessel I served on in whatever capacity is gone now. Some they sold off to the Third World, some were scrapped, and some were sunk as artificial reefs.

  7. So I take it from the reading you were on the Iowa? In an ironic twist I was stationed on this ship and I toured an Iowa Class (Wisconsin) while at "C" School in Virginia. I was on the Halsey from 2006 to 2010 as an Electronics Technician. I was there when they ripped out the old school 25 mm and put in the fancy ones with the sensors and cameras. This is also the ship I earned my ESWS pin on so should you have any questions even if it has been 5 years just let me know. BTW those nozzles are for countermeasure washdown primarily, I never heard them discussed as a firefighting tool. I found this page while I was trying to describe to a buddy how the life boats were stored on a ship and needed a good close in shot of the side of the ship, so thanks for that!


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