Sgt. Maj. Buzzkill
- Feb 1, 2008
- Kiel/Wherever, Germany
- '19 BMW M240i
Aren't those just old Celebrity Cruises ships refurbished for Tui Cruises...? I know the Mein Schiff, is simply the old Celebrity Galaxy, given a makeover. She was in Oslo last year, and is coming back this year.:lol:
Mein Schiff 1 already exists, pretty much a clone. Actually, I approve of this naming scheme from an advertising point of view. Makes you think about it and maybe even remember it.
I assumed that, and that's no less ridiculous as a ship's name. Suddenly I have to think of the old "mein Haus, mein Auto, mein Boot" commercials...
The QE2 in heavy weather:
Begs for a caption: Britain, Jolly good...
Might look bad, but then you have to remember that the QE2 was bilt for this kind of weather conditions, with her long bow, and deep draught protecting the bridge and the superstructure. The Queen Victoria on the other hand wasn't built for it:
The ghost ships of Mothball Fleet: Incredible pictures of abandoned Navy war ships taken by crew of illegal squatters
They are the Navy ships that heroically fought in World War Two, now slowly rotting in a San Francisco bay.
And as they are being towed, one by one, for scrapping, in just a few years they will all be gone.
A group of illegal squatters gained unprecedented access to the vessels by rowing at night for two years past security and climbing onto the ships, sleeping secretly on board for days at a time.
And as these stunning images show, their efforts were certainly worth it.
The ships, which served the U.S. in four wars - World War Two, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and Desert Storm - are now stationed in Suisun Bay, 30 miles north east of San Francisco.
The mothballed ships, which once numbered close to 400, have been out of action for a decade. 15 of the ships have already been scrapped and the whole fleet is expected to have disappeared by 2017.
The squatting photographers, led by Scott Haefner, gained access to the ships over a two year period.
They took months to prepare their voyages - analysing tidal patterns and security rotas - but despite many close calls managed to spend many days at a time on board.
'As news began to mount that the ships would finally be towed out for scrapping, we knew we had to act fast if we wanted to explore and document them,' Haefner said.
'We had fantasised for years about getting aboard and had to overcome numerous obstacles just to get to the ships. To get across the channel, we acquired a small, inflatable raft that was just big enough for the three of us and our gear, along with a small motor powered by a car battery.'
The raft often had holes in and on one occasion they frantically had to keep pumping up the boat while still on water.
'On subsequent trips, we spent the entire weekend aboard the ships, each time on a different row. Because they are tethered closely together in rows, we had many ships to explore?enough to keep us occupied for a week or more if the excursions were not so draining and we did not have jobs pulling us back,' Haefner said.
'One of the first orders of business each trip was finding a place to sleep. The ships are often stinky from mould, mildew and decay, so a room with windows that opened was preferable.
'We typically slept in the captain?s room where we found comfy couches, convertible beds, lots of space, and plenty of light during the daytime.
'We slept during the day after shooting and exploring all night. Around noon, we would wake up and eat and explore the bowels of the ships.
'We had to be careful moving around on the decks during the day, but because the ships are so tall, it was still fairly low-key?at least during our initial trips.
'On later trips, we ran into crews working on the ships, even on weekends, due to increased clean up efforts. Luckily we always saw or heard them before they saw us!'
The Navy Has a Top-Secret Vessel It Wants to Put on Display
Sea Shadow and Its Satellite-Proof Barge Need a Home; Plotting in Providence
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Anybody want some top-secret seagoing vessels? The Navy has a pair it doesn't need anymore. It has been trying to give them away since 2006, and they're headed for the scrap yard if somebody doesn't speak up soon.
One is called Sea Shadow. It's big, black and looks like a cross between a Stealth fighter and a Batmobile. It was made to escape detection on the open sea. The other is known as the Hughes (as in Howard Hughes) Mining Barge. It looks like a floating field house, with an arching roof and a door that is 76 feet wide and 72 feet high. Sea Shadow berths inside the barge, which keeps it safely hidden from spy satellites.
The barge, by the way, is the only fully submersible dry dock ever built, making it very handy -- as it was 35 years ago -- for trying to raise a sunken nuclear-armed Soviet submarine.
"I'm fascinated by the possibilities," Frank Lennon said one morning recently. Mr. Lennon runs -- or ran -- a maritime museum here in Providence. He was standing in a sleet storm on a wharf below a power plant, surveying the 297-foot muck-encrusted hulk of a Soviet submarine that he owns. His only exhibit, it was open to the public until April 2007, when a northeaster hit Providence and the sub sank.
Army and Navy divers refloated it this past summer with the aid of chains and air tanks. Mr. Lennon can't help but imagine how his sub might look alongside the two covert Cold War castoffs from the Navy. "They would be terrific for our exhibit," he said, watching the sleet come down.
But a gift ship from the Navy comes with lots of strings attached to the rigging. A naval museum, the Historic Naval Ships Association warns, is "a bloodthirsty, paperwork ridden, permit-infested, money-sucking hole..." Because the Navy won't pay for anything -- neither rust scraping nor curating -- to keep museums afloat, survival depends on big crowds. That's why many of the 48 ships it has given away over 60 years were vessels known for performing heroically in famous battles.
Museum entrepreneurs like Mr. Lennon who don't have much money can only fantasize about Sea Shadow and its barge. After all, a pair of mysterious vessels that performed their heroics out of the public eye can't have much claim to fame. Glen Clark, the Navy's civilian ship-disposal chief, has received just one serious call about the two vessels, and it didn't lead to a written application.
The Navy's insistence on donating Sea Shadow and the barge as a twofer may also explain the lack of interest. Here is the Navy's vision for a museum display as Mr. Clark describes it:
"When you're driving down the road, you can't see the Sea Shadow. You have to pay for your ticket to go on board the Hughes Mining Barge, and then you see the Sea Shadow. That has the capability of preserving the aura of secrecy of the program."
Possibly. It might also cause drivers to drive right by the hulking rust-bucket without devoting a thought to stopping.
The Hughes Mining Barge actually has nothing to do with mining or with the late, reclusive Mr. Hughes. He merely let the Central Intelligence Agency use his name in 1974 to cover up its mission to raise a Soviet submarine from the floor of the Pacific Ocean.
The adventure was publicized as the expedition of another new vessel, the Hughes Glomar Explorer, to mine for minerals on the seabed. To grab a sub, the ship needed a giant claw. But because it was big and unwieldy, the claw couldn't be installed in the ship at dockside. That's where the "mining" barge came in.
The claw was assembled inside it. According to Curtis Crooke, retired president of Global Marine Development Inc., the company that did the work, the barge with the claw inside was then towed off the California coast and submersed. The Glomar Explorer was positioned over it, and the claw hoisted into its belly.
Then the Explorer went sub hunting (exactly how much of the sub it retrieved, if anything, has never been declassified) and the barge went into mothballs.
"That's all it was used for," says Mr. Crooke, "to put the claw inside the Explorer." Would the barge work as a museum? "It's just a big old dumb barge," he says. "Now, the Sea Shadow, that's a way-out spacey kind of thing. You could tell a story about that."
The Glomar Explorer was refitted as a drill ship. The barge -- thanks to its satellite-proof roof -- got a second secret job for the Navy and its contractor, Lockheed Missiles & Space Co. In the early 1980s, Sea Shadow was assembled inside it. At a cost later put at $195 million, it aimed to attain the same invisibility at sea that it had in the federal budget.
Sea Shadow, 160 feet long and 70 feet wide, was the Navy's first experimental stealth ship. Its special coatings, sharp angles and other confidential doohickeys allowed it to baffle radar and sonar. Viewed bow-on, it looks like a squat letter "A" standing on two submerged pontoons for exceptional stability on rough seas.
From the start, Sea Shadow moved at night, towed from its California dock inside its barge and launched onto the open sea to sail on its own in darkness.
S.K. Gupta, now a vice president at Lockheed Martin Space Systems, was in the crew. He recalls watching a glass of Coke on the bridge barely ripple in 12-foot waves. In war games with the Navy off San Diego, he says, "We operated during the night with impunity. We could disappear and sneak up on whomever we wanted. Nobody thought we could do it. A ship is usually hard to hide."
The Navy brought Sea Shadow out of the shadows for daylight tests in 1993, setting off a flash of publicity. It hit the cover of Popular Mechanics. Revell made a plastic model. A mad media mogul used a Sea Shadow look-alike to foment war between Britain and China in a 1997 James Bond movie "Tomorrow Never Dies."
In 2006, its experimental life at an end, Sea Shadow and the barge it was boxed in were struck from the Navy's register and tied up in Suisun Bay, near San Francisco. The technologies it developed have sired a generation of land-attack destroyers and ocean-surveillance ships. "Sea Shadow is the mother of all stealth ships in the world," says Mr. Gupta. It ought to be displayed out in the open on dry land, he thinks, its invisibility visible to all.
The Navy's Mr. Clark says, "We're looking at that option." In December, Sea Shadow got a one-year reprieve from the junk yard. And in Providence, Mr. Lennon got one more year to dream.
Retreating from the sleet, he was in the Sealand Diner eating breakfast with Ed Sciaba. Mr. Lennon is 66 years old and an ex-Green Beret. Mr. Sciaba, 54, is a scrap dealer ready to tow Mr. Lennon's sunken Soviet sub to his yard.
Mr. Sciaba knew nothing of Sea Shadow or the CIA's sub-raising venture. As Mr. Lennon recounted the details, he got excited.
"Hell of an idea," he said. "That's a museum I'd go to."
"You could tell the story of the Cold War," said Mr. Lennon.
Mr. Sciaba banged his coffee mug on the table. "Let's go get 'em and tow 'em back here!" he said. Mr. Lennon turned his gaze to the storm outside, and Mr. Sciaba picked up the check.