Come Aboard the USS Lexington
Nestled near the southernmost tip of Texas is a small little city called Corpus Christi. And nestled within the Corpus Christi Bay is the not-so-small Navy Aircraft Carrier, the USS Lexington. We’re down here for about a week visiting my brother who’s stationed close by, so we decided to visit the ship as a cultural family day trip (LOL- always one of these mixed into a fam vacay). It was only our second day in Texas, so we were still getting adjusted to the extreme heat and humidity (who ever told me that the heat in Texas was supposed to be a dry heat, lied), and the three hour tour around the ship was exhausting, so keep this in mind if ever planning a trip yourself! Three hours later and there was still plenty we didn’t get to see, so you can definitely make a full day of this.
We started up on the flight deck, climbing our way up one steep, narrow step at the time.
We were greeted at the top with a strong, salty sea breeze and the humidity was almost unbearable up here- hard to believe that men live on these ships for months at a time. In fact, my brother was telling us that he had to endure about a week on one of these carriers as part of his training, and it was definitely an experience. After about a week, the living conditions and restrooms in particular became, ahem, to put gently, pretty rough.
Also up on the deck was a “bridge catcher,” (which looks an awful lot like a plank used to torture prisoners on a pirate’s ship) and is used primarily today for that exact reason- a photo opp for tourists like me to act as if they’re walking the plank. Of course I had to be one to give it a shot! Keeping in mind that it was a fairly windy day, the plank hangs directly over the edge of the gulf and I, being the klutz that I am, was wearing flip flops, I’m pretty proud that no accident occurred here. Plus, the plank itself is much steeper than it looks here, so it was a little daunting to hang my head over the side. BUT I DID IT FOR THE BLOG.
We also found this very cool decal on the wall explaining what each of the US Naval Aircraft Markings from each time period look like, as they’ve been changed ever so slightly over the years, from the early 1900s to today.
In addition to the decal, up on the flight deck were many actual planes themselves from these corresponding time periods, which were being renovated and kept up quite nicely. I guess that’s one great thing about Texas weather- when you don’t have snow, things are able to stay in mint condition outdoors. Believe it or not, there were about 10 planes that fit up on deck, to give you an idea of the sheer enormity of these ships! Here I took full advantage of another photo opp, climbing up on one of the open planes and acting as if I was the pilot of the family (let’s be real, you would never want me flying your plane.) Really starting to love this whole blog thing as it gives me an excuse to take more pictures than usual!
From here was the long arduous journey down to the lower deck (or as I, being a fairly dumb civilian, called it, the basement), where a museum had been constructed in the ships belly. There were replicas of what some of the rooms would have looked like when they had been in use (laundry room, barber shop, infirmary, kitchen, etc.), as well as a room of model airplanes from each time period and war, and some interactive pieces as well. They really have made every effort to make the ship look like it might have when it was actually in use, down to every last detail!
We even found a replica of the airplane my Grandpa Steele used to fly (pictured below), although we couldn’t find the one my grandpa on my mom’s side flew in WWII! We really do have a long line of pilots/airmen in our family history now!
Part of the museum showed a unique comparison of some of the tactics of the U.S. Military compared to that of the Japanese during WWII, including the Kamikaze warfare that the Japanese used. It seriously amazed me to see that there were actual different methods of Kamikaze fighting. Hold up, what? As terrible as it is, I didn’t think you could mess that sort of thing up? Isn’t the main strategy to, more or less, just drive your plane into another plane/ship? Apparently not. There are three different methods a soldier could use- either go in as a horizontal attack (the slowest method, diving down but then coming in toward a ship horizontally), diving attack (much faster than the horizontal attack, but coming in at an angle) or bow-on attack (which is exactly what it sounds.)
Being on these huge ships is such a surreal experience, because it’s something the majority of us will never experience ourselves. It makes me appreciate our armed forces even more than I might usually after seeing the conditions they have to endure fighting for our country. The danger that comes with being on an aircraft carrier during wartime itself is huge, and this ship alone endured both Kamikaze and torpedo attacks. I would strongly suggest everyone take the opportunity at some point in their life to tour a carrier- not even necessarily the Lexington. There are ships open to the public today all across the country, with some of the most popular in New York, South Carolina and California. Essentially, just about wherever you’re planning your next vacation along the coast you’re bound to find one- so go check it out!
For info on touring the USS Lexington, visit: https://www.usslexington.com/tours-exhibits-2/
There are discounted rates for children, seniors and military!