I left this morning from San Diego after a spectacular stay as part of my speech to the federal administrative judges at their conference. Besides the visit to the USS Midway that we discussed earlier, two of the greatest highlights was a visit to the San Diego Maritime Museum and a long hike along the Pacific Ocean near Del Mar.
The museum is a treasure of ships that range from a clipper to a Russian submarine. I had a ball. You cross from ship to ship at the museum which is located near the Midway. It includes
- Star of India, 1863 merchant bark
- Berkeley, 1898 ferryboat from the San Francisco Bay area
- Californian, 1984 replica of 1847 cutter C.W. Lawrence and official tall ship of the state of California
- Medea, 1904 steam yacht that served in both World Wars
- HMS Surprise, a 1970 replica of a Royal Navy frigate that was used in the film Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World as well as the Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides as HMS Providence.
- B-39, Soviet Foxtrot class submarine
- USS Dolphin, diesel-electric submarine launched in 1968 and decommissioned in 2007
- PCF-816 (formerly C24 or P24), 1968 Patrol Craft Fast that was transferred to Malta in 1971 and decommissioned in 2011
- San Salvador, replica of Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo‘s galleon which discovered San Diego in 1542.
For me the highlight was the B-39. There is an interesting video presentation that plays as you move through the boat. The terrible conditions of these Foxtrot subs is shocking. It was a wonderful surprise. The story told in the sub is very powerful to hear it in the very same class submarine. The story is about the B-59 (shown here), which was the lead sub on October 1, 1962, in the Cuban missile crisis. With its sister ships B-36, B-4 and B-130, the B-59 was forced to submerge by the American blockage and stayed under water until its batteries almost gave out and the temperatures in the sub reached 120 degrees. It must have been hell. The sub was the scene of a real”Crimson Tide” scenario. Captain Valentin Savitsky and the political officer Ivan Semonovich Maslennikov wanted to use a “special weapon,” a nuclear torpedo that each subs carried to sink the American fleet (and kill themselves). The order was given but sub flotilla commander Vasili Arkhipov and another officer refused to consent to the launch. The other officers said that they had not had any contact with Moscow and that they could be a war. The Americans had dropped depth charges to try to force them to surface. They could not surface if they wanted to use the weapon. However. Arkhipov insisted that they might not be a war and that the Americans were dropping charges in groups of five that seemed designed to force their surfacing rather than sinking them. He prevailed and probably avoided a full nuclear war between the countries. While he went on to become an admiral, the Russians are still mum about the incident and Arkhipov’s incredible courage in avoiding nuclear war. When they surfaced, the U.S. Navy asked if they could be of “any assistance” — a dry joke given the depth charges. The Navy had a jazz band play for the sub as they sent over food and supplies.
However, on October 27, the United States Navy – in the form of the aircraft carrier USS Randolph and 11 destroyers – detected B-59 near Cuba. US vessels began dropping depth charges of the type used for naval training and containing very little charge. The purpose was to attempt to force the submarine to the surface for positive identification. Messages from the USN, that practice depth charges were being used, never reached B-59 or, it seems, Soviet naval HQ.
The small size of the early ships is always surprising no matter how many ships you visit. It is so cramped, even on some of these luxury ships like the Medea. The Dolphin was also interesting and itself quite cramped. It set the record for a dive as well as the record depth for firing a torpedo (even though it was always meant to be a research vessel). I loved the Surprise, even though it is a replica. It was built with care and accuracy. I also love the movie and it was interesting to see how small the spaces were for the shooting of the cabin and other scenes. A great experience.
Here are some pictures from the various ships:
I also took a long hike at the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve near Del Mar which was overwhelming its beauty. It is a truly rejuvenating experience. It is also wonderful to see all of the different pursuits of Californians who get a huge amount out of life from yoga on the beach to biplanes in the sky to, of course, surfing. I have always admired how Californians live their lives creatively.
For me, I love to hike and there are few places as beautiful as this golden state. This hike was incredible and ended with a radiant sun set. Here are some of the pictures from that long hike.
I truly love California and I strongly recommend a long visit to San Diego and its surrounding areas.