Saturday, September 4, 2010

The National Cathedral

While on the way back to Virginia, I told my dad that we could stop by the National Cathedral so that he could see that as well.  Like most Americans, he had heard of the National Cathedral and even seen it on TV, but hadn’t sever seen it in person.  We stopped for a few minutes to walk through and take a few pictures.  The scale of this structure is nothing short of amazing.

The Navy Museum

We also came across The Navy Museum which also shares the same parking lot with the NCIS building and the USN Barry.  I had heard of this museum before, but never bothered to make the trip out to see it.  On a map, it didn’t look big enough to warrant the trip and trouble of getting onto a military base.  However, once we got inside the front door I realized that I was sooo wrong in my initial assessment.

One of the most interesting items that I saw in this museum was the bell from the USS Merrimack.  The Merrimac was a frigate and sailing vessel of the United States Navy, best known as the hull upon which the ironclad warship, CSS Virginia was constructed during the American Civil War. The CSS Virginia then took part in the Battle of Hampton Roads (also known as "the Battle of the Monitor and the Merrimac") in the first engagement between ironclad warships.

Also in this museum is a deep water submarine named Alvin.  Alvin is a 17-ton, manned deep-ocean research submersible owned by the United States Navy and operated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. The vehicle was built by General Mills' Electronics Group in the same factory used to manufacture breakfast cereal-producing machinery in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  The submersible has taken 12,000 people on over 4,000 dives to observe the life forms that must cope with super-pressures and move about in total darkness. It is said that research conducted by Alvin has been featured in nearly 2,000 scientific papers.

Alvin’s capabilities were made possible in part by the development of syntactic foam, which is buoyant and yet strong enough to serve as a structural material at great depths. The three-person vessel allows for two scientists and one pilot to dive for up to nine hours at 4500 meters (15,000 ft). The submersible features two robotic arms and can be fitted with mission-specific sampling and experimental gear. The hatch of the vessel is 19 inches in diameter and somewhat thicker than the 2 in thick titanium pressure hull and held in place by the pressure of the water above it.

Alvin’s most credited accomplishment is that it took the first human eyes to the final resting place of the RMS Titanic in 1986.

Ever Watch NCIS?

While visiting the USN Barry, my dad pointed out an interesting building to me across the parking lot.  The US Naval Criminal Investigative Service building.  Not only is this the same agency featured on the CBS television show, but this building can be seen in the title scene of each episode.

We also saw several large guns, propellers and armor plating from old Navy ships as well.  Check out the size of the propeller that my dad is standing next to in the picture below.

Visiting the US Navy Display Ship Barry (DD-933)

My dad is in town for a long weekend visit.  As with all of his visits, he wanted to see something new this trip, and this time he came with a list of those new things.  At the top of his list was a visit to the Naval District Washington Display Ship Barry.

My father was like a kid on a jungle gym climbing around this ship.  Visitors to the ship have access to nearly all of the vessel (which is pretty cool).  I took the photo below of my dad going up the exterior of the ship.  Based on the smile on his face, you would never tell that he was 40-50 feet above the water at this point!

After my dad told me he wanted to see this ship, I didn’t have high expectations for what we would find there.  However, after nearly 2 hours climbing all around it and taking a ton of pictures, we both realized that we were having a great time.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Things We Say Wrong

We stumbled upon by accident this morning, and we both laughed at the clip below for hours.  This person captured the thoughts that we both have occasionally and the strange “inside conversations” we have with ourselves.  Enjoy!