Today we explored a floating city at sea and relived nearly 50 years of world history aboard the longest-serving Navy aircraft carrier of the 20th century. Exhibits ranged from the crew’s sleeping quarters to a massive galley, engine room, the ship’s jail, officer’s country, post office, machine shops, and pilots’ ready rooms, as well as primary flight control and the bridge high in the island over the flight deck. It certainly brought History alive for the girls. The educational videos were very well done. They loved getting to sit in ejection seats to watch some.
We were all shocked to learn that 4400 people lived aboard this ship to make it run. That is the size of Blenheim. Crazy!! Water was the most precious thing on the ship. They could launch a plane every 35 seconds. While most aircraft carriers could launch 35 attack missions a day, the USS Midway could launch 100.
Other interesting facts about the USS Midway:
- The Midway sailed in every ocean on earth and remained in service for 47 years (longer than any other carrier), including stints in the Vietnam War and served as the flagship during Operation Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf
- Footage of a 1951 landing crash on the deck of the Midway has been re-purposed in films, including the 1990 hit, The Hunt for Red October
- in 1975, a South Vietnamese Air Force major defected, loading his family of seven into a two-seat Cessna and flew off to sea looking for help. He spotted the Midway, and sent a plea for help by dropping a note onto the deck during a fly over. To improve chances for a safe landing, the ship’s commanding officer ordered “a supposed” $10 million worth of helicopters to be pushed overboard.
- The Midway suffered a collision at sea in 1980 in a location somewhere between Borneo and the Philippines.
- The USS Midway is painted with the number “41” on its deck to indicate the age/position of carriers – the Midway was the 41st aircraft carrier commissioned for the US Navy.
- The Midway carried 2,000 feet of anchor chain, with each link weighing 130 pounds and the anchors hitting the scales at about 20 tons each.
- Over 200,000 service personnel served on the Midway over its lifetime
- Aircraft take off achieving speeds up to 170 miles-per-hour in less than three seconds with the support of steam powered catapults. The USS Midway was actually powered entirely by steam propulsion.
- The Midway was decommissioned in 1992 at a ceremony in San Diego with Dick Cheney (Secretary of Defense) delivering the main address.The ship spent time in Washington and Oakland, CA before opening as a museum ship in San Diego in mid-2004
- As one of San Diego’s most popular attractions, the USS Midway Museum draws approximately 1 million visitors a year.
- If stood up, the USS Midway would be taller than any building in San Diego. Eying the Midway from the water with the city skyscrapers as a backdrop, that is amazing to think. The tallest building is only 500 feet. The USS Midway is 972 feet.