Maggie feels very MINI

This very rainy afternoon we took a drive around the area in Maggie. One stop was the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, home to many decommissioned aircraft carriers and, currently, one active carrier undergoing refitting, the USS John C. Stennis.

Maggie and the USS Independence
Maggie feels especially MINI next to the aircraft carriers.

We pulled up next to the CV-62, the USS Independence, decommissioned in 1998, and got out and wandered around in the rain. This place is a photographer’s dream, or at least it would be in the sun. The huge bins of parts, the giant ships, and the juxtaposition of Puget Sound blue, rainforest green and battleship gray is pretty striking.

USS Independence
The USS Independence, slowly being stripped down.

It makes me think – if a mountain of metal could tell stories, what tales she could spin! The thousands of men who have lived aboard her, the journeys she’s seen, the battles, the heartache, the victories… the ghosts who walk her halls must be restless and agitated to see her dismantled around them.

It makes me once again thankful for the men and women who’ve dedicated their lives to serving, living aboard this giant floating city for months at a time while she charts her way from port to port.

The fishes that swim — the rocks — the motion of the waves –
The ships, with men in them
What stranger miracles are there?
     ~ Walt Whitman, “Miracles”

8 Responses to “Maggie feels very MINI”

  1. Eric Says:

    Nice photos. And don’t begrudge the clouds–the low and indirect lighting can create some nifty opportunities.

    (My own recent kvetching about what low-light was doing to my shots has more to do with my inability to hold a camera steady than anything. Steady enough for a slower shutter, and clouds and rain can be awesome, or so I’ve read.)

  2. Janiece Says:

    Jeri, I attended the decommissioning ceremony of the last ship I served on, even though I was no longer assigned to her.

    I cried.

  3. Bryan Says:

    Does it bug anyone else that as these carriers are being decommissioned, they are being replaced with new carriers named after U.S. Presidents? I think there’s something grand about the old names being reused, like “Independence”, “Enterprise” (the next to be decommissioned) and “Constitution”, etc.

  4. Jeri Says:

    Eric – I didn’t have my good camera with me so these are BlackBerry pictures – so thank you. ;)

    Janiece, I can understand that – it seems that you’d get quite attached.

    Bryan – yes. I much prefer the old names.

  5. Michelle K Says:

    Bryan, I have to admit that I’m partial to the state names. Say, the USS West Virginia.

    The mast of the USS WV that went down during Pearl Harbor is a the center of the WVU campus, as is the ships bell.

    There has been some debate over whether the bell of the USS WV should be used in the bell ringing ceremony that has happened for years–when a student dies, the bell is rung in memoriam for them.

  6. Bryan Says:

    The state names used to go to battleships, and when we stopped building and using those, they switched to naming missle submarines after states.

    Carriers were named for battles or old Navy sailing ships or renown, until, I think, the Nimitz (though, for example, there was a carrier named Franklin, but named after earlier ships named after Ben Franklin, not Franklin himself).

  7. David Meyer Says:

    Your thoughts about these ships are correct. I spent two years on Independence (1993 to 1995) when she was stationed in Japan. beautiful ship, much history, many, many memories and stories. Thanks for showing me what she looks like now. Wish she were in better shape.

    David Meyer
    Tampa, FL

  8. Brad Crawford Says:

    This ship has a special place in my heart. I was stationed aboard her in 1996 when she was docked in Yokosuka Naval Base outside of Tokyo. I was in V-1 division and spent my days aboard her decks and my nights sleeping just inches away from the same flight deck. Some nights, like those nights when we were in the Persian Gulf in early 1998, we’d sleep in the bow nets and enjoy the sounds of the waves crashing against her hull… After that last cruise in the gulf, I rode her all the way to her final resting place, stopping off in Hawaii to do a changing of the guard with the USS Kitty Hawk, and then ending in Puget Sound for the decommissioning of the grand girl. Yes, you’re right, if she could tell the tales of all she’s seen it would surely be a long story worth listening too… She will always have a special place in my heart and memories…