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BB MA Photos &
1920s Canal Zone Scrapbook


The USS Massachusetts, BB 59, is a South Dakota class US fast battleship, on display as a museum ship and memorial at Heritage Park, Battleship Cove, Fall River, Massachusetts. The "Big Mamie" is sister also to the Alabama and Indiana.

There are several other good Battlewagon sites that quote statistics, histories, and numbers. My intent is to round out the pictures available on the web. Other sites feature long shots. This site gets you close enough to see details, and attempts to give a better concept of the sheer size of the ship.

The tour has about 80 images currently, arranged loosely by subject, with several pictures per page. You can return to this contents page from any image page by clicking on Massachusetts or BB59 on the title bar, though clicking on "Galveston" or "C 17" brings you to a different time, a different place.

The Massachusetts pages follow...

USS Galveston Scrapbook

Seeing Panama in a One Horse Shay.

My great uncle served aboard the USS Galveston, C-17. Yep. That's right. Cruiser seventeen. He left behind a scrapbook with not a single picture or memory of the Galveston herself, but with many postcards and pictures that give glimpses of the Old Navy. The above shot is typical of the canal zone tourist pictures. There are also cartoons lampooning the navy, and some pictures documenting a reign of terror in the China ports. My best guess is the pictures were taken in the late 1920s. Would anyone knowledgeable in old cars care to pin it more exactly?

This is a double web site, dedicated to two ships, two time periods. The title bar at the top of each page can be used to return to the base page of either ship.

World War II

The Urban Legend Version

There is a tale circulating among the MIT Strategic Games Society of a trip to Berlin by two of the Society's members. The two were riding a city bus, deep in discussion of how Germany lost the war, discussing strategy, tactics, commanders, equipment and the rest.

As they were talking, two punks entered the bus, wildly colored hair, leather and studs, with a boom box blaring. They settled in behind the Americans, talking loud over the music. Suddenly, one of them turned off the boom box. The other asked why.

The first punk pointed an elderly grandfather type sitting opposite the Americans, military haircut, military posture, military command presence, just looking at the two punks. Both the punks and the Americans fell absolutely silent. For some reason, the punks left the bus at the next stop.

The old man got up to leave at the stop following. First, however...

"How did Germany lose the war? I'll tell you how Germany lost the war. One. Russia was too damn big. Two. Russia was too damn cold. Three. There were too damn many of them."

The Pacific war was of course different, though I have heard three reasons why Japan ultimately lost. In order to protect the homeland, the Japanese had to extend their territorial control out to Midway. They did not have the troops or industrial capacity to defend such a large area. Also, there was a problem in disease. While the Americans allocated resources to drain swamps, and otherwise control malaria and other diseases, the Japanese did not. Thus, the Pacific was too damn big. The Pacific was too damn swampy. And, of course, there were too damn many of us.

It is left as an exercise to the reader to analyze the failure of Japan's campaign in China.


Tony Orlando is best remembered for the song, Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree, which tells the story of another legendary bus ride. He reports receiving many assurances that the story was true, by people who were actually on the bus. He added, at least judging from the number of fans who approached him, that it must have been an unusually large bus.

I have only received one e-mail claiming the Berlin bus ride describes an actual incident. However, that e-mail contained a cite. "This is actually not an Urban Legend, but instead a retelling of an actual incident recounted by Ty Bomba... It's in Command Magazine No. 1, the article is Barbarossa: Misconceptions Half-truths, Lies and Savagery Unbridled -- the Big Issues By Ty Bomba. pp. 11-12. Nov.-Dec. 1989."

While I ought really to behave myself, I can't help but wonder if the bus story is a misconception, half-truth, or lie. The savagery seems to have remained bridled. ;-)

Warship Links

Florida's "Museums in the Sea" has a page on USS Massachusetts. BB 2 is the oldest US Battleship to "survive," for a very generous definition of "survive." BB 2 ended her career as a target vessel. This page gives information one of Florida's Underwater Archaeological Preserves. Bring your scuba gear. Come at slack tide.

USS Alabama , BB 60

The surviving sister of USS Massachusetts is berthed in Mobile Bay, Alabama.

USS North Carolina, BB 55

Not quite sister ship, North Carolina is from the previous design class. She is on display in Wilmington, North Carolina. USS North Carolina has virtually identical armament and capabilities to the Massachusetts. North Carolina's longer hull with the same treaty limit weight makes for a slightly less effective armor scheme, but perhaps slightly greater elegance.

USS Iowa Veteran's Association, BB 61
USS New Jersey, BB 62
USS Missouri, BB 63
USS Wisconsin Association, BB 64

These are not all museum ships yet, but they are certainly deserving of the honor. I'd as soon the honor wait until the navy builds something else that can support a beach head in volume, and in bad weather. Originally built with 9x16" plus 20x5" batteries similar to Massachusetts, the Iowas had no treaty limits, though they were kept thin enough for the Panama Canal. The slightly longer main battery barrels gave the Iowas a bit more range and power than the less fast battleships. The armor scheme is slightly improved over Massachusetts'. The big advantage was the 5 extra knots of speed that let them keep up with the fast carriers.

Currently, the Iowa is with the Defense Reserve Fleet in Suisen Bay California. The New Jersey is a museum ship at Camden, New Jersey, across the river from Philadelphia. The Missouri is a museum ship at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The Wisconsin is at the Nauticus maritime Museum at Norfolk, Virginia.

USS Texas, BB 35

USS Texas is at best only a distant cousin, or perhaps a great aunt. She is the fifth battleship preserved on the East Coast. (With only 3 states on the left coast, only name state ships tending to be saved as museums, and California, Oregon and Washington already scrapped, the westerners are at a disadvantage.) The Texas is the only World War I era battleship surviving. She was built following the H.M.S. Dreadnought, during the era when Battleships were undisputed Queens of the Sea. Great Britain, France, Germany and the United States engaged in the classic naval arms race, with Texas being the sole remaining ship. Five main turrets! Count em, five!

USS Olympia - The sole surviving pre-dreadnought era ship, a protected cruiser. She is currently in Philadelphia, PA, under the care of the Independence Seaport Museum.

At midnight, New Year's Eve, USS New Jersey fires a 5 inch shot from Camden over the Delaware River. Will this be the year that Olympia returns fire from Philadelphia?

USS Salem - A post world war II Heavy Cruiser museum ship, also located in Massachusetts. The United States Naval & Shipbuilding Museum.

USS Constitution - Definitely not a sister. An ancient and much honored ancestor? It seems improper to not give mention to the grandfather of all warship museums.

USS Constellation - The Civil War's and Baltimore, Maryland's entry in the warship museum list.

Historic Naval Ships Association. These people have a far longer list of museum ships than I have managed to put together.

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