It’s not every day you get to go on a tour of a ship that earned five battle stars during World War II and is seen as the closest thing to getting on a real-life, working US Navy ship. Launched on 7 December 1943, by Mrs. Goodland, wife of Walter S. Goodland, the Governor of Wisconsin, the ship was involved in various operations over a period of 57 years, including supporting operations against Iwo Jima and using its 16-inch, 67-foot long guns, to fire on the Japanese city of Okinawa.
The ship was decommissioned in 1947 after an admirable service in the Second World War and was mostly used as a training ship until the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950 and then a second time in the 1991 Gulf War, quite remarkable for a ship built in the 1940s.
Today the ship sits in adjacent to Nauticus, The National Maritime Center, in Norfolk and was opened as a museum to the public in 2001. Visitors can climb aboard the ship, which doesn’t charge an entry fee, but sadly can’t see the interior rooms. This is because the Defense Authorization Act of 2006 states that the ship cannot be changed in any way that may leave her unusable for future military duty, should she be called upon. To the military enthusiast this only adds a sense intrigue; the ship you’re exploring could one day be back out on the open ocean.
When climbing aboard the first thing that strikes you is its size, you see these ships on TV and in films but nothing quite prepares you for the scale of these warships, the Wisconsin is definitely a niche visit, but one you’ll almost definitely tell your friends about.