Innumerable as the Starrs of Night,
Or Starrs of Morning,
Dew-drops, which the Sun
on every leaf and every flouer
Beauty is truth, truth beauty,
— that is all
Ye know on earth, and all
ye need to know.
E = M
Energy is eternal delight.
Impearls: Fourth of July, 2008, aboard the W.W. II aircraft carrier the U.S.S. Hornet
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Fourth of July, 2008, aboard the W.W. II aircraft carrier the U.S.S. Hornet
There was concern arriving in the area that day that it would be thoroughly socked in (and thus cold and dreary) with San Francisco's famous fog, but even though great tongues of fog had pushed via the considerable onshore breeze some distance to the north and south of the U.S.S. Hornet's permanent home (at the Naval Air Station on the island of Alameda, California, along the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay) — and while the city of San Francisco to be seen across the bay was almost completely enveloped in it, fortunately however the day actually experienced in the environs of the Hornet itself was beautifully sunny; though with the typical stiff cold onshore breeze emerging out of that fog bank (I wore an overcoat and was glad of it, many others there that day did too).
(In these shots, as usual, simply click on an image to link to a substantially larger version of it….)
Even considering that there are much more substantial (and nuclear-powered) aircraft carriers operating these days, it's still amazing seeing, not to speak of hoofing it from one end to the other and back again (several times) on, this historic old warship: basically several city blocks' of artificial territory placed end-to-end, several high decks deep bearing huge aircraft-carrying elevators, mounting massive engines (wish I could have seen them), thereafter set afloat to steam as an artificial steel island mounting a powerful mobile naval airfield (the pinnacle in military technology during its heyday) round the world's oceans and seas. Impressive isn't the word for it.
The U.S.S. Hornet (CV-12) had an illustrious career. Its namesake predecessor, the seventh American Hornet (CV-8), fought in the Pacific war's desperate turning-point Battle of Midway, afterwards going down to the bottom in the Battle of Santa Cruz later in 1942. Launched in 1943, its replacement, the eighth, now Essex-class Hornet, the instance before us, as the ship's museum web site notes, accomplished the following:
“A HERITAGE OF EXCELLENCE” is the ship's creed:
The Hornet's extensive resume is also presented graphically within the carrier's high-rising hanger deck:
The kind of extreme action the Hornet and its sisters and kin experienced during World War II makes fond illusions about a “quagmire” in the present war in Iraq seem badly misplaced (especially now that the war there is winding down and nearly won). [Written in July of 2008; now of course that prognosis has simply been confirmed by an additional year's events.]
After such notable and terrific service during World War II, the Hornet entered into a second life during the fifties and sixties (performing antisubmarine-warfare carrier duty during that period, for instance), then directly supporting the Gemini and Apollo Moon program, ultimately retrieving the first two expeditions to visit surface of the Moon — Apollos 11 and 12 — from the sea, following their fireball return to this planet.
Following their return from visiting the surface of the Moon, the Apollo astronauts spent a preplanned few weeks in a quarantine facility, as a precaution against the very remote eventuality that some dread malady could have been acquired by the astronauts during their visit to the (with little doubt) sterile surface of the Moon. As expected there was no such contagion.
It looks like a modified “Airstream” trailer, actually — I wonder if that's what NASA did? (A fellow can be seen examining a display of a moon rock just in front of the entrance.)
In the relaxed atmosphere of the Hornet's hanger deck (where the hectic though pleasant vibes of the band up atop the flight deck seemed far away), Kids enjoyed playing at hamming it up on the Hornet's flag-draped stage — while their doting parents oftentimes stood out in the “audience” videotaping them against the starry-striped backdrop.
As a result of various instances of blurred motion, one can see that no was flash used anywhere during this visit to the Hornet — even in quite low-light situations — though the Panasonic DMC-FZ8 camera employed does possess a built-in flash, which generally works adequately well. Didn't turn out too bad, I'd have to say, though in retrospect I might have used the flash on a couple of occasions (such as for the fireworks -- just joking; actually what the fireworks could have used was turning off autofocus, while setting manual focus to infinity; along with mounting the camera on a tripod.)
For those occupying the stern end of the great aircraft carrier's hanger deck, folks enjoyed a relaxing (if bracing) view overlooking San Francisco Bay….
Thereafter, whilst angling through various narrow passageways and clambering up and down steep ship's stairs aboard the old steel warcraft, one closely encounters the antiaircraft cannon glimpsed from dockside before….
Ah, just the thing for an American gun-lover's back (or maybe front) yard! That ought to deal with all those naggling drive-by shootings! (/attempted humor)
One might note that in the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision issued just the other day concerning the Constitution's Second (gun rights) Amendment, all nine Justices (including those appointed by liberal presidents) affirmed (with some variance from the majority 5-4 opinion concerning the extent of resulting legal protections, but unanimously as to) the basic individual rights interpretation of the original intent of the American founding fathers in composing the Second Amendment. As a result, the “collective rights” interpretation — whereby for decades legal “experts” solemnly intoned that when it said “the right of the people” it really meant “the right of the state(s)” — is now officially dead as a doornail. It is an individual right to keep and bear arms that the U.S. Constitution guarantees — though admittedly (and thankfully) that right does not extend to such things as personal WMD.
Once up on the flight deck, the aircraft carrier's commanding “Island” rises like an arcane metallic crag + treehouse, or vertical mandala, above the flattop “plateau.” (We're viewing the sternward-facing side of the island, opposite the bridge per se. The windowed area visible on this side isn't the ship's bridge proper but rather, I believe, controlled flight operations.) Hanging off the tower above, flags flap, and radar antennae rotate, like watchful eyes. On the left, today, kiosks provide refreshments.
My ex-wife Tamara appears in the shot above, at lower right with her TV production camera, wearing my Ecuadorian poncho for warmth….
The bow of the aircraft carrier's flight deck, at the exact opposite end from where the band was set up, was a bit lonely during the celebration — until, later, the city of Oakland's fireworks commenced, that is!
Ascending into the Island into the Hornet's Bridge, one obtains great views looking down on the flight deck and surrounding terrain….
“Captain James Cook,” er… “Kirk” issues an order on his communicator — “Warp factor eight, Scotty…!” (or should that be, “Full steam ahead!”).
In the bridge, the pilothouse receives some special armor protection, but the outer area, ringed by windows, does not:
Descending from the bridge, the sun was close to setting at that point in the bank of fog, whilst near the stern of the flattop, the band played on….
As the sun set behind the fog bank and lights began coming on across the bay, the final band, the “Unauthorized Rolling Stones” — not a military or marching band, one might note, like the other bands playing that day — finished up its set. As their name implies, specializing in Rolling Stones compositions, and not doing too bad a job on them I'd say, they performed a number of oldies from other groups as well. (I don't recall them doing the Stones' “20,000 light years from home” though, which this ship certainly makes me think of — as an analogy to the “Starship Enterprise” in Star Trek — indeed, there is an in-commission U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier today called the U.S.S. Enterprise ….)
Notice in the background of the last shot above how the Transamerica Pyramid skyscraper pokes up out of the top of the fog bank, above San Francisco's foggy cityscape.
Behind the band, at the stern end of the flight deck facing San Francisco Bay, a remembered flag flaps in the breeze…. Note the number and pattern of stars. This is the 48-star flag that the Hornet fought under during World War II — and in the fifties, during the Korean War.
The evening ended with spectacular fireworks in several directions — except the direction of San Francisco, whose own fireworks were lost in the fog — with just an occasional flash, like distant lightning, visible from that direction. Other points of the compass held greater wonders:
That one kind of looks like a Hubble Space Telescope photo, no? The Orion Nebula….
After that there was nothing to do but join the hour-long traffic jam getting off Alameda island and onto the freeway heading towards home.
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