S.S. AMERICA, S.S. UNITED STATES sailing on the 'All American' team to Europe

BIG U trivia –

From the Bill Lee collection


SSAmerica’s Historian Bill Lee writes: Closing out this year’s correspondence about ship stuff with a little shipyard trivia.Here’s a photo from my AMERICA album – taken in 1954. It was part of the shipyard’s program to emphasize the size of the first super carrier (USSFORRESTAL, CVA-59) and this print was used in the Daily Press that year, and has notations on the back in my Father’s blue-penciled newspaper jargon. The accompanying newspaper account pointed out that (theoretically) both the UNITED STATES and the AMERICA could be placed side-by-side on the FORRESTAL’s flight deck.The two biggest building docks at NNS, at the time, were side-by-side, and often the waterfront planners utilized a large model of the docks and the cranes that serviced them in order to visualize tough building sequences. This was, after all, long before computer visualizations were even thought of, and models were much easier to study than plans. The shipyard model shop also had made some basic ‘block’ models of several ships as well, including the famous liners built there (and serviced annually, at the time). Before you ask, I have no idea whatever happened to all these ‘toys’. In the case of FORRESTAL, her flight deck (252 feet wide) was much wider than the dock she was built in, and the flight deck ‘overhangs’ had to be installed, one sub-assembly at a time, moving from aft to forward. Once each of those sub-assemblies was in place, the cranes could not go further aft again until the ship was structurally completed and floated out. In addition, the weight of those pieces was so great that cranes had to be ‘ganged’ together to make the lifts. And lastly, ships being placed in the adjacent dock had to be located off center, to clear the starboard side overhang of a carrier under construction. At times when one of the supercarriers was being built or serviced in the larger of the two docs , the UNITED STATES had to be positioned ‘off-center’ so that her superstructure would clear a carrier’s flight deck overhang. On those occasions, it seemed as if you could almost step from one ship to the other. Exciting times, for a then very young apprentice… I don’t recall that this photo has been seen in recent years – so I thought it was time to share! Happy Holidays! Bill Lee


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S.S. AMERICA, S.S. UNITED STATES sailing on the 'All American' team to Europe