HMS Ark Royal – former flag ship of the Royal Navy, veteran of Bosnia and both Iraqs – is available for purchase. All offers considered! Bids and plans for the boat are required to be submitted in writing.
The last aircraft carrier that made big news when sold was the Varyag. Unfinished, and rusting for a few years, the Russians sold it to a Chinese real estate mogul who said he wanted to turn it into a casino in Macau. Instead, it got towed to Dalian, a new paint job, a new name, the Shi Lang.
The US Navy is celebrating a century of naval aviation with vintage paint schemes. The T-45C pictured above is decked out in a modified of scheme reminiscent of the 1938 Enterprise Air Group colors. (The red nose is new, due to training plane color requirements.)
The Air Force did something similar a few years ago for the 90th anniversary 111th Fighter Squadron, which is now part of the Texas Air National Guard.
While normally I despise anything retro or vintage, I do enjoy these color schemes. The Navy has tended to retain distinctive squadron insignias (the F-14 squadrons seemed to be especially distinctive), reminiscent of nose art on the tails of their airplanes, while the Air Force have defaulted to boring two letter codes. Supposably, nose art is added to a some aircraft in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it’s hard to find examples on the web beyond scorecards.
According to Lt. Col. Dave Thompson, USMC commander of cybernetic warriors, or chief robot wrangler, there are over 2000 military bots in Afghanistan. Doing the math, this means about one out of fifty soldiers are robots. It needs to be said, that this number is only the number of bots deployed, not the number that are actually utilized.
Also, Thompson was only counting land bots, not the aerial drones that get all the headlines, and movies. These bots are the bomb defusing Talons, PackBots, and few other mine clearing bots. Notably missing from Afghanistan are SWORDS, Talons fitted with M-60s and other goodies. Those were withdrawn from the battlefield after they went berzerk during their deployment in Iraq. (“Kill-bots want peace too; but programs must complete.”) Also missing from this list are the more advanced bots, such as self driving cars, and of course everyone’s favorite BigDog.
I managed to make my way up to San Francisco and see both the USS Bunker Hill and the Varyag. Unfortunately, there was a mixup about how long Russians were giving tours of the ship. Instead of going to 3 pm, they stopped at 1 pm. However, I did get some decent photos of the ship from the pier. For more detailed shots, I suggest you view the Chronicle’s pictures of ship. I did manage to take a tour of the Bunker Hill. We mainly stayed on the outside of ship, seeing the fore and aft vertical launch systems, the helicopter hanger, and also the bridge. About 350 crew members are on board, and about 40% of those are female. In 2008, the ship was the first Ticonderoga class cruiser to underwent an upgrade to its fire control systems, that allowed (in addition to other things) the ability of both the fore and aft 5 inch guns to be targeted independently. On of the new roles for the Bunker Hill is ballistic missile defense, and the ship is of the same type that recently shot down a satellite.
It was very cool tour, and look forward to the next San Francisco Fleet Week (October 7 – 12).
UPDATE Fri Jun 25 12:23:50 PDT 2010
Flickr user Kyle Mizokami has some great shots from tours of both the Varyag and Japanese ships that were in town.
Today, five warships from three countries arrived in San Francisco. The Ticonderoga class guided missile cruiser, CG-52 USS Bunker Hill Three Japanese training ships, lead by the Kashima class, TV-3508 JDS Kashima, and the Russian Slava class guided missile cruiser Varyag (formerly the Chervona Ukraina) will be there.
Why mention this? Well you can get photos and tours of all these ships, except the American Bunker Hill.
Updated: Thu Jun 24 09:26:24 PDT 2010: Thanks to some mysterious stranger in the comments, the Bunker Hill is conducting tours. Table updated.
|Bunker Hill||Pier 17||Thursday, 1 pm – 4 pm|
|Kashima||Pier 27||Monday 9 am – 11 am and 2 pm – 4 pm|
|Varyag||Pier 30-32||Thursday, 10 am – 3 pm|