As mentioned in a previous missive, I recently spent several days in South Texas with the extended family. While there, I took a couple of hours to visit the USS Lexington Museum in Corpus Christi, mainly because I’ve never been on an aircraft carrier before and thought this would be a good chance to do so.
A bit of background: The Lexington is an Essex-class aircraft carrier built commissioned in 1943 and, save for eight years after WWII when it was deactivated for a major refit, served until it was decommissioned in 1991, at which point it was converted to a museum ship. If you want to read its full history, Wikipedia has a nice write-up here, though it doesn’t explain how the ship earned the nickname “The Blue Ghost”.
At any rate, I grabbed some snaps with my trusty iPhone 13 Pro Max and thought I’d share a few here in lieu of a travelogue of our entire trip as I did for Oregon/California earlier this year.
Upon arriving at the Lexington, you’re greeted by this retired Blue Angels A-4F Skyhawk “gate guardian“. The Blue Angels—the US Navy’s flight demonstration squadron—flew the Skyhawk from 1974 until 1986.
The ship is permanently moored with a nice, long, easy-to-walk ramp leading up to the museum entrance on the starboard side of the massive hangar deck.
The hangar deck, of which you can get a sense of the size in this photo of part of it, is somewhat massive, though I don’t believe it contained snack bar when it was in operation 🙂
One of the guns on the starboard side of the ship. This one is a 3″/50mm anti-aircraft gun.
The antenna mast atop the ship’s island:
A AH-1 Cobra helicopter was adorned with this piece of advice that pretty much sums up why I don’t exercise 😛
The bridge of the ship was much-more spartan than I imagined. In my head, there were controls and information displays everywhere. Instead, the reality was much more basic:
Speaking of controls, there was no shortage of various valves, gauges and dials around the ship:
Including this mystery gauge:
One of the most-interesting things about the ship was that it featured an escalator:
The escalator was installed during the ship’s post-WW2 refit to allow the carrier air wing pilots to easily and quickly travel from their ready room to the flight deck.
As a museum ship, there were plenty of recreations of various things from when the carrier was in operation, including this food in the galley/mess that probably looks more-appetizing than the actual food during the ship’s service:
The dental suite featured this uncomfortable-looking mannequin:
Several recreations featured figures with creepy projected faces as illustrated in this quick clip I shot:
Another area featured this war-era aircraft trainer that can best be described as an adult version of those kids’ rides that they used to have outside supermarkets:
All-in-all, it was an interesting, albeit hot, visit to see how WW2-era carriers were operated and laid-out. If you’re in the Corpus Christ area, I recommend taking a couple of hours to visit the museum.