ASNE And SNAME Members Tour Long Beach Naval Yard Complex
The June meeting of the Long Beach- Greater Los Angeles Section of The American Society of Naval Engineers was held jointly with the Los Angeles Metropolitan Section of The Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers.
The more than 160 participants who were members of each or both Societies, along with their families and invited guests, convened at the Allen Center Officer's Club at the Long Beach (Calif.) Naval Station where they boarded buses for a "drive-through" tour of the Long Beach Naval Station and the Long Beach Naval Shipyard complex.
Each bus had a tour guide who pointed out various buildings, berths, drydocks, ships, etc., and one of the outstanding landmarks viewed was the world's largest self-propelled floating crane, YD-171. This crane is one of four built at Bremerhaven, Germany, during World War II at an estimated cost of $3.5 million each, and captured by the British at Kiel in 1945. Of the four, one was sunk at Hamburg, one capsized in the English Channel as the British were attempting to move it to their homeland, one was assigned to the Russians, who moved the partially completed crane overland to Danzig, and it has not been heard of since, and the last one was very carefully handled in transiting the Atlantic, Panama Canal, and the final leg up the Pacific Coast to Long Beach.
The crane is of the level luffing type with a lifting capacity of 386 tons at a radius of 114 feet. The hull is fitted with three electrically driven, vertical axis, variable-pitch propellers, giving her a maximum speed of over 6 knots, and by varying the pitch individually on the three thrusters, the crane can be moved omni-directionally for any desired orientation. In 1969, she was repowered from 725-hp motors to 1,200-hp diesel engines driving 960-hp electric motors at a cost of $318,000, and is maintained in an active status at all times. She is truly a beautiful piece of machinery and has served well in both Naval and commercial lifting assignments over the past some 30 years.
The tour proceeded to alongside the USS Tarawa-LHA-1, where the buses unloaded the group for the tour of the newest and most versatile amphibious warfare ship in the U.S. Navy. Small groups were guided through the ship by men of the ship's crew, and to many of the Society members it was a much more familiar and meaningful visit than one usually experiences on such a tour. Many had participated in the design, and more than just a few held positions of considerable responsibility during the conceptual and design phases of the ship's evolution. Even though the physical ship was built in Pascagoula, Miss., she was conceived, developed and designed in the Greater Los Angeles area.
The USS Tarawa combines the functions and payloads of four amphibious force ships in that she carries helicopters, landing craft, tanks, jeeps, cargo and troops. Her flight deck extends the full 820 feet of her length, permitting simultaneous operation of nine helicopters. She also has a very large "wet well deck" in her stern which allows docking landing craft within the hull where they may be loaded with men, tanks, trucks, jeeps or cargo at the same time that similar materiel is being deployed by the helicopters up topside. The movement of materiel within the ship from the storage areas to the flight deck and the "wet well deck" is accomplished by means of an elaborate system of conveyors, elevators and inclined ramps, affording her the capability of almost single-handedly conducting landing force operations.
Her electronics and communications systems are both extensive and versatile, and have as a heart of the electronics a system called Integrated Tactical Amphibious Warfare Data Computer System which, in addition to keeping track of the landing forces after leaving the ship, also tracks the enemy targets ashore. With this system the computer can direct, aim and fire the ship's guns and missiles, or can direct other supporting ships to do so. She can also maintain both air and surface traffic control for her own helicopters and landing craft and additionally those of the combat air patrols and the task force supply ships.
She has extensive medical facilities which include two main and two emergency operating rooms, two X-ray rooms, a blood bank, laboratories, and hospital wards with 300 beds, all staffed with competent doctors, nurses, technicians, specialists and corpsmen. Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz once said "The U.S. Navy's errands of mercy have saved more lives than all its guns have destroyed," and the USS Tarawa is by far better suited than any other Naval vessel to sustain this tradition. No matter what the disaster—be it typhoon, earthquake or hurricane— she has the capability to provide food, clothing, shelter, medical care, communications and transportation to aid the victims.
On completion of the inspection of the USS Tarawa, the group again boarded the waiting buses to return to the Allen Center where a no-host buffet luncheon was served.