Today we went aboard the USS Chafee, a Naval destroyer, for a tour of the ship. The Chafee is actually based in Pearl Harbor, but apparently it tours the Pacific looking for trouble and trouble happens to be in San Francisco this week. We actually made it into the City by one, and we stood around in line waiting to get in for another two hours. I was impressed with the longevity of that line, I tell you. We were determined to get aboard.
After all of the security warnings, I was nervous that we might have difficulty getting aboard, but they had a rather cursory inspection point and then we trotted over to the ship behind our tour leader, a very lovely woman who serves as a navigator on board the Chafee.
The Chafee is a very big boat.
This picture is from below the ship before we stepped aboard. It doesn’t really convey how big the Chafee is, though. Especially once we got inside and started wandering around the bowels, stumbling across other enlisted men over the course of our tour and even once almost getting lost inside a restricted area, we saw that the boat was really, really big. It accommodates up to 400 sailors.
The Chafee carries missiles. A lot of them. Here’s the forward launching pad. I believe our guide told us that the ship carried 96 missiles. Of course, she also said the boat was “around one million dollars,” which I find hard to believe. I sort of got the impression that enlisted are trained to do very specific tasks, but that they aren’t really aware of what goes on outside their job description.
That sounds fiendishly boring to me, personally.
The Chafee was docked facing the Bay Bridge, and yes, that’s a “Don’t Tread On Me” flag flying at the bow. In the foreground is the anchor chain. The anchor is also very large.
It was rather interesting to tour the ship, poke around, see what there was to be seen. We weren’t supposed to photograph the inside, but I can tell you that it was a maze of low-ceilinged corridors which looked like they would be very uncomfortable for taller sailors. The officers mess was pretty nice…our guide made a funny gibe about that.
I was also totally confused by the uniforms–our guide said she was enlisted but she had a neat black outfit with bars on it. Then there were some men in classic sailor suits, some others in BDUs, and still others in civilian gear. So I wasn’t really sure who was doing what, and where, and when, but it looked like fun. Or something.
We kept seeing sailors running around downtown San Francisco. Our guide said that they really enjoying visiting the City, because there’s lots of fun stuff to do.
Don’t ask, don’t tell.