Battleship Wisconsin

Norfolk, Virginia

visited June, 2001

USS Wisconsin (BB-64) DANFS

USS Wisconsin was stop #1 on day #1 of the great 2001 Ship Tour. In fact, we went from the airport to the hotel straight to the Wisconsin, even though there wasn't a lot of time left in the day. It turned out to be a good move, because the light was so different the next day when we visited her again. A battleship rising from the shadows can be more impressive than a battleship bathed in summer Virginia sunshine.

The ship herself is open free of charge to all comers. Since my visit, they have added a fee-based audio tour. She is berthed next to Nauticus, the National Maritime Center, and also home to the Hampton Roads Naval Museum. There is also a fee-based exhibit of USS Wisconsin memorabilia available at Nauticus. A great harbor tour also departs from Nauticus several times each day, including a pass down the docks of the Norfolk Naval Base.

The Wisconsin (along with USS Iowa in Suisun Bay, California) has been restored to the Inactive Fleet, having been stricken and then restored to the Naval Register in the 1990s. Because of her mothball status, there are currently no internal areas open to visitors. You may stroll the weather deck from bullnose to stern, peer inside the windows of the bridge, and examine Harpoon and Tomahawk launchers - one of the latter being the canister that raised the curtain on the Gulf War. Because she was refurbished and modernized by the Navy in the 1980s, she is in excellent material condition and a special treat to see.

The Wisconsin has always had a special place because I'm from Wisconsin - she's "my" battleship. Although many may argue that the USS Missouri was the 'last' battleship, there is no contesting that the Wisconsin bears the final hull number ever assigned to a United States BB. Today, she is also far more accessible, being just 3 hours from Washington, D.C. compared to the Missouri's (rightful) place on historic Battleship Row in Pearl Harbor.

I'm also pleased to present photos from the Wisconsin Capitol and Veteran's Museum in Madison taken in September and October 2001. The Capitol has a cast badger which journeyed with the ship and a painting of the Wisconsin; and the Veteran's Museum has the Wisconsin's bell, a shipbuilder's plaque (made from the first USS Wisconsin's whistle), a combat plaque, dummy shell, what appears to be a barrel-cleaning device and a nice model. The Veteran's Museum also has the first USS Wisconsin's (BB-9) helm wheel and a nice model. 

Included with the photographs is an unexpected find just outside Nauticus; an anchor from USS Antietam, saved when she was decommissioned and then presented to the citizens of Norfolk in 1983.

The Photos

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State Capitol, Madison, Wisconsin

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Wisconsin Veteran's Museum, Madison, Wisconsin

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USS Antietam outside Nauticus, Norfolk, Virginia

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For More Information:

Battleship Wisconsin Foundation

USS Wisconsin Association

Nauticus - The National Maritime Center

Hampton Roads Naval Museum

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