Friday, September 03, 2010

Why Not The U.S.S. Tarawa?

While the battle for the U.S.S. Iowa is being fought, I still must contend that is a battle about and for the wrong battleground.

The U.S.S. Tarawa would allow for a great many more opportunities for static displays by all the branches of the service, larger physical areas for displays in order to gather more opportunity for volunteerism and tourists as well as greater educational opportunities, all in a better-spaced warship, than the U.S.S. Iowa.

The U.S.S. Tarawa is an amphibious assault carrier with a flight deck, hangar deck, amphibious landing deck, island, and many more decks more similar to modern day Naval vessels than what is found on and within the U.S.S. Iowa.

The U.S.S. Tarawa was decommissioned by the U.S. Navy in 2009 and is moored in Pearl Harbor awaiting final disposition by the Navy. So far, no group apparently has asked the Navy for the ship.

I have never found the lure in having a battleship as a historical display compared to a carrier-type warship that allows so many greater availabilities to share all of our military branches rather than just the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corp.

However, if the U.S.S. Tarawa is sold for scrap before it could be given to a group, there are similar ships of its class that either have been decommissioned or very soon will be.

The U.S.S. Tarawa is about 834 feet long compared to the U.S.S. Iowa which is about 888 feet long. This means that the U.S.S. Tarawa might find a better fit in our harbor.

San Pedro is not and was not just a "Navy town". There has been a U.S. Army fort named after Lt. General Arthur MacArthur here for almost 100 years.

Current members of the U.S. Air Force are now residents of San Pedro in several locations throughout the area.

The U.S. Coast Guard still has an installation and housing on Terminal Island and at Point Vicente.

While the old Navy housing still exists at Ponte Vista, when it housed families, some of those families were families of members of the United States Marine Corp.

When all the branches of our great military have lived, worked, or had interests in and around San Pedro, it should make sense that all of the branches could and should be represented in a historical place that has the opportunities to celebrate and honor all of the branches.

Such a place could be a small 'flat top", one with a flight deck, flat hangar deck, and docking deck to offer plenty of space for displays and honors for all the branches of the service.

A ship the size of the U.S.S. Iowa could not probably fit well on either side of Fisherman's Slip, but that is probably not the case with the U.S.S. Tarawa.

The U.S.S. Iowa is about 888 feet long with a beam of 108.2 feet while the length of the U.S.S. Tarawa is about 834 feet long with a beam of 106.6 feet. The U.S.S. Tarawa is shorter and narrower than the U.S.S. Iowa but has much, much more deck space and hangar deck space the U.S.S. Iowa never had.

Since there are so many fewer fishing boats now berthing at Fisherman's Slip, berthing an amphibious assault ship on the north side of Fisherman's Slip offers an almost complete package of display opportunities and the parking is already built and there are more than a few great business opportunities so very close at Ports O Call that is could find an unprecedented resurgence of business and tourism.

I also feel that there would be a much greater number of volunteer opportunities having a ship in San Pedro that could offer displays from all branches because veterans from every branch may want to work on the ship in or near where their branch has displays.

The U.S.S. Tarawa and her sister vessels are warships and they did and do carry guns. The service provided to our country by each one of the ships in the class the U.S.S. Tarawa can actually be documented as being greater than the service provided by the U.S.S. Iowa.

There are most likely greater histories of different types of service by the two true warships mentioned in types of service such as rescue efforts, civilian support during disasters, as well as multiple types of warfare including aircraft, landing assaults, missile deployment and usage, gunfire, and other means of warfare.

The U.S.S. Iowa demonstrated 'big gun' and cruise missile technology. The U.S.S. Tarawa demonstrated air technology, amphibious assault technology, missile technology, bomb and lighter gunnery technology, and more.

Apart form Pearl Harbor and its battleship on display, I wonder what the visitor comparisons are between displays involving aircraft carriers like the U.S.S. Midway and U.S.S. Intrepid, versus other battleship displays or other surface or submarine displays.

I feel quite comfortable that, as attractions, warships that have flight decks find greater numbers of visitors than any other type of warship on display, other than those revered at Pearl Harbor.

Another consideration is that there are many, many more Navy and Marine veterans who have served on amphibious assault carriers than there are former sailors and Marines who saw service on the four battleships of the U.S.S. Iowa class. This is in part to the fact that there were only four battleships within the class that the U.S.S. Iowa is in that saw real service beyond the 1950s and both classes of amphibious assault carriers of the U.S.S. Tarawa and U.S.S. Iwo Jima classes had more than four ships in each class built.

I believe that except for the U.S.S. Missouri, now berthed very near the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, no other battleship currently on display as an attractions draws anywhere near the number of people who board the U.S.S. Midway in San Diego and the U.S.S. Intrepid in New York Harbor.

Another consideration is that the entire Western Museum of Flight now located at Torrance Airport could easily fit on and inside the U.S.S. Tarawa and that Museum would find a much higher number of visitors that they now get annually and the planes are already close to the harbor.

It is very true that when looking at images of the U.S.S. Tarawa do not offer as much 'might', 'power' and 'offense' that the big guns of the U.S.S. Iowa could offer, but the U.S.S. Tarawa or another ship in its class is newer and would provide San Pedro with a much better attraction, in my opinion.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was a Marine transported on the Tarawa during Desert Shield / Desert Storm 90-91. I have taken my children to see both the Midway and The Missouri. The Missouri is a National treasure and a testament to the Greatest Generation. The midway is an outstanding museum that spans many years service. I believe the Tarawa would be an excellent museum and could display many different aspects of service: combat to humanitarian efforts. I would love to take my kids to the ship I was on when I was a young hard charging Marine. You know your old when the decommission a ship you served on.