PARK HISTORY 


USS ALABAMA BATTLESHIP MEMORIAL PARK OPEN FOR 50 YEARS IN MOBILE

USS ALABAMA Battleship Memorial Park, 2014

USS ALABAMA Battleship Memorial Park, 2014

January 9, 2015 marked the 50th anniversary of the opening of USS ALABAMA (BB-60) Battleship Memorial Park. Eighteen years to the day since she last ran under her own power, the World War II heroine was dedicated in Mobile, Alabama to the memory of Alabama veterans of all branches of the armed services, Navy, Army, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marine.

Dedicated by then Under-secretary of the Navy, Paul B. Fay, ALABAMA played host to more than 2,000 people who crowded her decks to celebrate the campaign to bring her "home" to her namesake state. Sixteen different military organizations significantly contributed to the ceremonial festivities that cold January 1965 day.

The Battleship was received on behalf of the citizens of Alabama by then Governor George C. Wallace. Before his death in 1998, the late Governor fondly remembered the event as though it was yesterday: "On the day we were piped aboard by the U.S. Marine Band from Washington, tears welled up in my eyes, and chills went down my spine,  as I thought of all the boys killed in World War II, and who died and were dying in the Vietnam War, and that this was a tribute to them for us to save this ship as a lasting monument."

Only a few years earlier in May 1962, ALABAMA had been sentenced to be scrapped along with her South Dakota class sister ships, USS SOUTH DAKOTA (BB-57), USS INDIANA (BB-58), and USS MASSACHUSETTS (BB-59). Other than BB-60, only MASSACHUSETTS (BB-59) remains, the other two sister ships scrapped in 1962.

True to the fighting spirit the ALABAMA had demonstrated since her commissioning August 16, 1942 while earning nine WWII Battle Stars, the State of Alabama "Save the Battleship" committee organized a statewide fundraising campaign that saw more than $800,000 collected in spring 1964, enough to bring the ALABAMA to Mobile, and to start what today is the 155 landscaped acres of Battleship Memorial Park located on Mobile Bay just off I-10.

It took almost three months to tow the 35,000 ton dreadnought from her Bremerton, Washington home base down the West Coast toward Alabama. Scrapping through the Panama Canal, where she had eleven inches of clearance on each side, and into the Gulf of Mexico, she entered Mobile BaySeptember 14, 1964 to complete her 5,600 mile voyage “home”, still the longest non-military ton/mile tow in history.

USS ALABAMA entering Mobile Bay - 1964

USS ALABAMA entering Mobile Bay - 1964

Alabama’s school children will always be associated with bringing the “Mighty A” home to her namesake state. More than one million students raised approximately $100,000 in nickels and dimes from lunch money and allowances to help the cause, an incredible effort in the days when the minimum wage was $1 per hour and a new 1964 Cadillac was a whopping $3,000.00. 

Of all the hundreds of unsung heroes who devoted countless time and energy to the project that brought and preserved the battleship for generations of Americans, the names of two Mobile civic leaders stand tall. Henri M. Aldridge, a local attorney, and Stephens G. Croom, a local insurance agency owner, not only led the local campaign, but continued their association with BB-60 long afterwards as stalwart members of the USS ALABAMA Battleship Commission, serving as Chairman and Secretary, respectively. Through their efforts, and others like them, Battleship USS ALABAMA has become the international attraction that she is today.

Since opening to the public January 9, 1965, more than 14 million paid visitors have graced her decks. Battleship Memorial Park has generated more than $100 million dollars in direct economic benefit for the Mobile area, and over $275 million in indirect economic impact throughout the State from admission receipts alone. Not bad for a successful statewide effort that grew from an almost unthinkable thought ofbringing ALABAMA “home”.

Open 364 days a year, closed only on Christmas Day, the Park includes the twelve Battle Star winner World War II Submarine USS DRUM, ranked eighth in enemy tonnage sunk. The park also includes a 34,000 square foot aircraft pavilion, dedicated to the twenty-nine Alabama recipients of the Medal of Honor. Inside the pavilion, and throughout the park, more than twenty-five vintage aircraft, military equipment, and war-time artifacts from all branches of service are on display, from World War II to Dessert Storm.

All Alabama citizens as well as all Americans should take pride in the fact that none of their taxpayer-generated State General Fund dollars, or any other state tax revenues, have ever been used for daily park operations. The Park has been self-sufficient since opening fifty years ago, and remains so even today.

Standing tall against the passive mirror-like serenity of the waters of Mobile Bay, a mighty warrior, who defended her nation well against enemy oppression in times of turmoil and strife, now reflects the pride of a Grateful Nation who hopefully will never forget what her sailors and millions of other Americans did to insure the precious freedoms the United States enjoys today.

Battleship USS ALABAMA, a legend in her own time, never losing any of her sailors due to enemy fire, her guns never again to fire in anger, a final and lasting memorial and tribute to the Greatest Generation.


BATTLESHIP USS ALABAMA COMES “HOME” FOR GOOD

After the end of World War II, Battleship USS ALABAMA and hundreds of warships used to win the war, were essentially useless in the newly created peace of the mid to late 1940s. In a cost-cutting move, the United States Government decommissioned ALABAMA on January 9, 1947, and left her at her berth in Bremerton, Washington, where she and other vessels would await their call back to defend their nation. But, for the highly decorated battleship and most of those with her, that call never came.

Other vessels were scrapped, being dismantled for their steel and other parts, since they were no longer of use to the peace-keeping efforts of the United States. On the early morning of May 1, 1962 over coffee at breakfast, Jimmie Morris, then an employee of the Tourist & Visitors Department of the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, noticed a small story in the Mobile Register newspaper that the Associated Press was reporting that the South Dakota class of battleships would be scrapped. This meant SOUTH DAKOTA (BB-57), INDIANA (BB-58), MASSACHUSETTS (BB-59), and ALABAMA (BB-60) would be destroyed.

USS ALABAMA permanently sits on Mobile Bay surrounded by a military memorial park honoring our nation's heroes, both past and present.

USS ALABAMA permanently sits on Mobile Bay surrounded by a military memorial park honoring our nation's heroes, both past and present.

When Morris got to work, he found Stephens Croom, then chairman of the Chamber’s Committee for Preservation of Historic Landmarks, already eager to join the fight to save Battleship ALABAMA, a natural memorial which could be preserved as is and presented as a memorial to all those Alabama citizens, men and women alike,  who served and fought her and abroad in World War II. He enlisted Henri Aldridge, an International Paper Company attorney, and sought the opinions of others located statewide. Quickly,  the hastily gathered group contacted the Governor.

Alabama Governor John Patterson, upon learning that the World War II era South Dakota Class Battleship USS ALABAMA was a candidate for scrapping by the Navy, was in complete agreement. An immediate petition was sent to the ALABAMA State Legislature, which, fortunately, was in session at the time, and a joint resolution was quickly passed. Governor Patterson appointed a small fact-finding committee, chaired by Aldridge,  to assess the feasibility of saving the ship from the scrapper’s torches, bringing her to Alabama’s deep water port of Mobile , and establishing her as the centerpiece of a memorial park.  Similar ventures had been successfully undertaken involving the Battleships NORTH CAROLINA (BB-55) and USS TEXAS (BB-35),  both relocated to their home states, and both groups were eager to assist the fledgling ALABAMA effort.

The group reported to newly elected Governor George C. Wallace that the venture was feasible, and recommended enthusiastically that the Governor undertake the project.  Later to be acclaimed for notoriety of a different sort, Alabama’s “Little Judge” was himself no stranger to America’s efforts in World War II, having served with distinction in the Army Air Force, and was keenly aware of the memorial value of ALABAMA for his fellow veterans. The Governor met with representatives from 22 Alabama counties in Montgomery in summer 1963, and charged them to “bring the ALABAMA home!”.

Negotiations with the Department of the Navy showed the enthusiasm of the government to transfer title of ALABAMA to the State. Therefore, Governor Wallace signed passed legislation into law,  and under original Senate Bill 152 (now found in the ALABAMA Code, Section 41-9-340 through 358) on September 12, 1963, the USS Alabama Battleship Commission was established as a state agency to acquire, transport, berth, renovate, maintain, and establish the Battleship USS ALABAMA as a memorial to all those Alabamians who had served so valiantly in WWII and Korea.  The law was subsequently modified to make USS ALABAMA Battleship Memorial Park a memorial honoring those who served in all armed conflicts of the United States.

Even though this Act # 481, crafted by then Representative Robert Edington of Mobile, created the Battleship Commission, one fact did not escape the attention of the original Commissioners. The legislation did not give the group one red cent to bring the battleship to Alabama, or to fund any construction and/or operating expenses once the WWII hero arrived in Mobile. Public fundraising was the only answer, and over one million little heroes and heroines raised their hands to save the aging warship. Alabama’s school children heard the call, and donated almost $ 100,000 to aid the cause, receiving a pass good for free admission as long as Governor Wallace was in office.

Original paint scheme of the USS ALABAMA.

Original paint scheme of the USS ALABAMA.

The Commission proceeded to organize a statewide campaign, chaired by Frank Samford of Birmingham. Samford as Chairman of Liberty National Life Insurance Company, rallied the state’s life insurance agents and underwriters, and, as they went throughout the state on their insurance debit routes collecting monthly policy premiums, they also collected thousands of dollars from Alabama’s citizens for the statewide grassroots fundraising effort.

A professional fundraising company assisted in the corporate efforts, and, in the spring of 1964, in a relatively short span of less than six months, approximately $ 800,000 was raised, enough to get the ship on the way from the State of Washington. The Under-Secretary of the Navy then executed a transfer document with the State of Alabama, represented by the Commission. It authorized transfer of Battleship USS ALABAMA to the state “as is, were is”, with no additional cost to the Federal Government. The document also allowed the Navy to annually inspect the vessel as ALABAMA must be kept in shipshape fighting trim, since a provision was that should the Navy ever need her, they reserved the right to come take BB-60, and press her back into active duty status. That never happened, but ALABAMA has still served her country well, in addition to serving as a memorial, since that time.

In the early 1980s, the Navy decided to renovate the IOWA class of battleships, the only four ships newer than ALABAMA. Since the IOWA class and three of the four memorial battleships then on display then were all built within months of each other, Battleships NORTH CAROLINA (BB-55), MASSACHUSETTS (BB-59), and ALABAMA (BB-60) supplied over $ 270 million worth of irreplaceable and no longer available parts, primarily engine room parts, to “modernize” IOWA (BB-61), NEW JERSEY (BB-52), MISSOURI (BB-63), and WISCONSIN (BB-64).

Although $ 800,000 in 1964 was a lot of money, it fell short of the intended one million dollar goal needed for the project. Three Mobile banks stepped in for support: Merchants National Bank, First National Bank of Mobile, and American National Bank. The banks loaned the Commission the balance on faith, since the Commission had no collateral the banks could use. Two of those banks, Merchants National (now Regions Bank) and First National (now PNC), continued to assist the Commission over the years and helped see the Park over lean times until sufficient reserves could be built up by the Commission to carry daily operating expenses year-round.

After ALABAMA reached Mobile on 14 September 1964, and the channel for her berth was completed in late September, the battleship was finally pulled into position. A hand-picked crew, consisting of mainly retired Navy men, began work on the weary lady almost right away, working seven days a week. She looked rough in those days, and literally acres of steel had to be sandblasted, primed, and painted. Below decks spaces had to be cleaned and made safe for visitors unaccustomed to moving around ships. Changes in the ship were evident daily, and in less than 4 months, BB-60, longer than two football fields,  was ready to be opened for visitors.

Over two thousand people were on hand Saturday, 9 January 1965 to see Governor George Wallace officially open USS ALABAMA Battleship Memorial Park. The date was significant since it was eighteen years to the day since ALABAMA had been put into mothballs at her decommissioning. The park did not look like it does today. More than 75 acres of bright white sand south of the US Highway 90/98 causeway, which had been dredged out of Mobile Bay to make the Park, lay to the west of the battleship, with the Mobile skyline only a few miles away.

In the sun of that cold Mobile winter day, Battleship USS ALABAMA began a new life as a perpetual memorial to all Alabamians, and all Americans, who risked and gave all for their beloved United States of America.


THE USS ALABAMA BATTLESHIP COMMISSION

As mentioned earlier, Alabama Governor George Wallace signed into law Senate Bill 152 (now found in the Alabama Code, Section 41-9-340/358) on September 12, 1963, establishing the USS ALABAMA Battleship Commission as a state agency to acquire, transport, berth, renovate, maintain, and establish Battleship USS ALABAMA as a memorial to all those Alabamians who have served so valiantly in WWII and Korea.  The law has modified to make the memorial applicable to those from the state who served in all branches of the military service in all armed conflicts of the United States.

The law created an 18 member Commission, whose members are appointed by the Governor for terms of 8 years.  The terms of one half of the original members were 4 years, enabling Governors-elect to reappoint or replace nine of the Commissioners.  At least three Commissioners must be residents of Mobile County and one a resident of Baldwin County, with the rest from all around the state.  All must be residents of Alabama.  Commissioners would receive no pay, but be reimbursed for expenses incurred on Commission business. 

The Commission meets monthly, with the majority of meetings held aboard the Battleship.  One meeting per year may be held out-of-state. The Commission still receives no public monies (i.e. tax money), and has been self-sufficient for daily operations since inception in 1963,  hence the necessity for charging admission to the park, a fact veterans sometimes do not understand, but a policy established by the original Commission, themselves all veterans.

The Commission, while it receives no public monies, can accept donations and grants,  and it has authority in the law to issue revenue bonds to raise funds as well. Bonds have never been issued, for when money has been needed, the Commission has borrowed money commercially, and currently maintains an outstanding debt of $1 to keep open a line of credit, the only outstanding debt of USS ALABAMA Battleship Memorial Park. The Commission is authorized to maintain an emergency fund, and it has done so on monies accumulated over the years.

Original Battleship Commission members were: Governor George C. Wallace, Honorary Chairman; Chairman Henri M. Aldridge of Mobile; Vice-Chairman J. T. McDow of Columbiana; Secretary Stephens G. Croom of Mobile; Treasurer Charles L. McLafferty of Selma; Albert P. Brewer of Decatur; F. E. Busby of Dothan; H. O. Davis of Montgomery; Robert S. Edington of Mobile; Al Fox of Birmingham; Raymond Hurlburt of Birmingham; W. G. McGrady of Mobile; Lewis McCray of Tuscaloosa; Robert M. Milsap of Bessemer (succeeded by Jack Beasley of Birmingham after the first Commission meeting on 21 November 1963); L. D. Owen of Bay Minette; Vernon St. John of Opp; William M. Stewart of Monroeville; Jack Tatum of Opelika, and Herbert West of Winfield.


HOW TO MOVE SEVENTY MILLION POUNDS OVER 5,600 MILES WITH NO POWER

One major concern was possible problems associated with the transportation and berthing of the battleship ALABAMA, with six general topics, arranged in no necessary chronological order, because they were going on all at the same time.  Henri Aldridge, Commission Chairman, an attorney with International Paper Company by profession, and Stephens Croom, insurance man and Commission Secretary, were appointed to handle these problems. Their efforts and brilliant coordination of what seemed to be a million separately-related items, proved to be the key to bringing a seventy million pound battleship over 5,600 miles to its new home.

First was setting up a time table. Second, was the selection of a representative in Seattle for the Battleship so the Commission could have a “man on the ground.” Third, was the establishment of the Port Authorities Committee for the Port of Mobile. Fourth, was the study of the contract with the U.S. Navy regarding insurance requirements. Fifth, was the towing contract. Sixth, was outlining the dredging requirements involved in preparation for Battleship Memorial Park.

It might seem elementary to have a Time Table as #1 on a list like this, but there are always some controlling factors to dictate the wisdom of it.  For example, weather in two oceans had to be considered as to the timeliness of the towing trip.  This involved making a list of the significant items necessary, with an estimate of lead time for each.  This was set it up with as much built-in flexibility as possible, because it would probably be necessary to alter it.

Next, it was absolutely essential that the Commission have someone in Seattle as the official representative, because Aldridge and Croom had a great many tasks for him to perform.  For example, he had to sign a receipt for a WWII battleship!  But, of course, he had to make many, many arrangements, answer many questions, and execute decisions.  For the battleship, our man in Seattle was a retired Navy captain, and we could not have had a more dedicated nor capable man, as is attested by the bronze plaque citation to Capt. James G. Thwing installed on the #3 16" turret.  Aldridge, Croom, and Thwingmaintained a schedule every Sunday night for a station-to-station telephone call to keep abreast of the ever-changing project.

For the Port Authorities Committee, the group organized a group of people identified with port and harbor responsibilities of all types, including the Corps of Engineers, the Coast Guard, Bar Pilots, Harbor Pilots, Harbor Police, the two local large shipyards, U S Salvage Association (insurance companies), towing contractors,  and others. The purpose was to avoid overlooking ANY responsible group or post.  They needed to be informed of the details, to learn of any possible regulation or legal notice requirements (such as dredging notices), and to discuss the various problems of physically handling the ship in case it arrived prior to completion of the berth (which it did!), including where the responsibilities might lie.  All of this conformed to the Commission’s policy of hiringprofessionals, because if something went wrong, nobody wanted to hear“They didn’t ask me...I could have told them that would happen!”  The first meeting was in spring 1964, some six months before actual arrival.  An excellent discussion was had and there was complete cooperation. Everyone wanted this project to succeed. 

The second meeting was when the ship was under tow, and expected within two to three weeks.  Details were worked out on precisely when, where, and how each party would function.  This was a delegation of command responsibilities.  The Bar Pilots took charge at the bar, had authority to call whatever harbor tugs they felt necessary, brought her up the bay to the point where the Harbor Master took her over to move up the channel headed to her berth.  At the same time, the local shipyards were to be ready to furnish whatever gear might be needed for handling any mooring problem, such as taking an anchor on a barge with a crane and securing it.  The ship arrived when actually about 10 days more dredging time on the channel was needed, and this is what necessitated the anchored mooring at the end of the channel to wait whatever time necessary to get into position.

Next, the Navy contract treats Insurance Requirements very seriously.  Mobile’s new friends at the NORTH CAROLINA in Wilmington said that insurance was the key to the success of the operation, next to money.  First, the Navy transfers title “as is, where is”, and this gives you a lump in your throat, and causes you to swallow hard, once you take in the full impact of what is involved. You must understand that there is no compromise with the Navy’s insurance requirements.  They required $500,000 hull and $500,000 P & I, which is Protection & Indemnity, or Marine Liability.  In order to arrange marine insurance, the underwriters require a set of certain facts from reliable, competent, and unbiased sources.  They expect such a source to inspect the risk, and make recommendations to assure seaworthiness of the project.  The United States Salvage Association is such an organization made up of naval architect and naval engineer types. For the tow, US Salvage did the job.  They came up with a set of requirements which well covered all contingencies, the significance of which was frequently strange to the uninitiated, so you need a private marine surveyor to interpret it.  For example, a single item read “Close and secure all manholes and watertight doors”. Before a shipyard could make a bid or an estimate, someone had to determine just how many such openings there were to close! 

These specifications also required the use of two tugs with twin screws, of a minimum horsepower and minimum draft, and with a minimum of 2" steel tow cable. The Commission was obliged to furnish some 200' of the heaviest chain on each tow line.  The purpose was to maintain a sag on the tow line and avoid the tug and tow being on the crest of two waves, which would pull the line taut and possible break it.  The swells in the Pacific Ocean apparently were the cause of this requirement. 

The Commission’s private surveyors, working closely with US Salvage the entire time, kept the Commission abreast of work progress. They sent a telegram to the insurance brokers stating that the tow was seaworthy, and that the ship could sail.  The Commission’s private surveyors also secured a firm bid on the tow expense. 

It should be mentioned that all four propellers were removed to reduce the drag on the tow.  They were lashed to the deck up forward.  Removal was done by blasting them off while the ship was tied up at the dock of Todd Shipyard.  There was some trouble with the environmentalists, to be sure, but only one small fish was killed.

But, back to the towing contract, Aldridge and Croom knew the price was right, because they had been getting preliminary estimates from several sources.  So, when it came time to negotiate the contract, they sent the Commissiona printed form, all signed and ready to execute.  However,  the language had some bugs in it, and was really not suited for this type tow.  A local admiralty lawyer was consulted, and Croom started trading, dealing directly with the towing company people. Everything Croom did was at the lawyer’s instructions, but the lawyer did not get in the act, because this would have made them put up their lawyer, and thus prolong the ordeal.  Finally, after much tossing of the “liability ball” back and forth across the continent, the entire contract was redrafted, Aldridge and Croom signed it for the Commission, and they were in business.  The wisdom of this was proven because, about 100 miles before the tow reached the Canal, one of the two tugs sunk in the night, with the loss of the first mate.  When Croom received the telegram bearing the bad news on a Saturday morning, he called the lawyer at his home and told him.  He asked “Did they sign that contract without any changes?” Croomsaid “yes”, the attorney commented “Then we have nothing to worry about”.  And he was correct.  There was not one word of complaint or protest or question at all.  Incidentally, during the tow, ALABAMA had to go through the Panama Canal as mentioned earlier. The Commission was able literally to get an Act of Congress to waive the toll on the ship.  While the Commission had to pay the expenses of pulling her through, the United States waived its standard Canal toll for this historical event in August 1964.

On the Dredging and creation of the park, test borings were made to appraise the extent of dredging needed to create the original park site.  Aldridge, Croom, and others had researched sites for the ship and Park, and after painstaking efforts, they settled on a site on US 90 and US 98, more popularly known as the Causeway, at that time, the most popular highway route from the Atlantic to the Pacific across the southern United States. Later, state legislation would change that name to Battleship Parkway. That legislation took an amazing five hours from the idea to actual passage into law by the State Legislature!

The site finally picked was selected due to its proximity to a navigable ship channel to lessen dredging charges, and near a major highway, which would supply the visitors necessary to literally keep ALABAMA ‘afloat’ with their admission dollars.  Creation of the park site was made from the dredge material pumped up from the channel to bring the massive ship to its final resting place, a site over 1/4 mile out in the Bay. The man-made site, over 2,000 feet across and 1,000 yards deep, was originally 75 acres, which cost $ 3,000 per acre, or approximately $225,000.

Two large dredging operations were under way in the harbor, and the competitive bids produced a cost of 11¢ a cubic yard, quite a bargain!  Dredging began about the first of July, about the same time ALABAMA’s tow began in Seattle, and, when the ship arrived some nine weeks later, they still needed 7 to 10 days to complete the channel. So they moved the ship to the end, dropped anchor, and then moved her to final berthing a week later, followed by pumping about 15' of sand around the ship for stabilization, since the water was only six feet where she wasberthed. 

After the tow, a discovery was made that would have given all nightmares, had it been known.  Ifthe ship had gone down, and was a total loss, the entire insurance proceeds would have gone to the United States Treasurer, and the Commission would have had a $400,000 channel for which there was little or no use. 

The battleship actually sits almost 20 feet under the bottom of Mobile Bay, but the Commission felt they needed additional protection since the ship normally cruised with water covering the bottom 33 feet ofher hull. Since water and bay bottom only covered about 25 feet, the fuel tanks, (thought to be completely empty, but later found not to be), were filled with over one million gallons of water, adding an additional six-seven million pounds of ‘negative buoyancy’, to hold her in place in the event of a ten foot high hurricane tidal surge.

The bottom of the battleship is flat, and in 1969, Hurricane Camille, a Class 5 disaster, gave her the ultimate test, with 200 mile per hour winds hitting her within the hurricane’s southeast quadrant. Camille was the most vicious and dangerous hurricane to hit the United States. BB-60 didn’t shift, but listed about two degrees to her port or left side. This was corrected by pumping water out of those port side tanks to right the vessel. 1979 saw Hurricane Frederic hit her with 145 mph winds, but she didn’t move, as was the case with Hurricane Georges in 1998. Alas, Submarine DRUM, which was berthed near ALABAMA two months prior to Camille, didn’t fare as well, with substantial damages to her gangways and moorings in each of the three weather events. 

Following the ship’s arrival in September 1964, work began right away to prepare for dedication and opening of the ship to the public.  She was dedicated and opened on 9 January 1965, eighteen years to the day she was placed in the mothball fleet.  Only the topside areas were open initially.  Now, about 65% of the ship is viewable, and that’s probably about the limit.  To open more compartments, there would be duplication of spaces already open.  For example, there are four engine rooms, all almost identical.  “See one, you’ve seen ‘me’ all!”  She’s mechanically almost new, with 218,000 miles on her.  For a car, that’s a lot, but for a ship, she’s barely broken in.

Today, there’s so much to see aboard the ship that three separate tour routes are set up. Each visitor is given a printed tour route sheet to help see them all, and to provide information on what they’re seeing. Each route is marked with colored arrows, which are numbered to correspond with the tour sheet. The Red Route is below decks, in the after part of the ship, which takes the visitor through the Main Galley, Chief Petty Officers’ Quarters, USS ALABAMA Crewmen’s Association Memorial room, USS EVANS and USS MOBILE Memorial rooms, laundry, barber shop, brig, machine shop, bakery, and other areas.

The Green Route is forward below decks, and includes the Warrant Officers’ living spaces, the Marine Compartment, post office, Combat Information Center, engine room, gunnery control station, sick bay area, and radio room.

The Yellow Route goes through the Main Display Area, Theater, Wardroom, officers’ staterooms, then goes up the ladders, through the Captain’s Cabin, Alabama Flag Officers display, the ship’s lower and upper Bridge, conning tower, Captain’s Sea Cabin, chart house, and finally, on the 0-8 level, the secondary conning tower, with an impressive view of downtown Mobile and Mobile Bay.

All three 16" turrets are open as well as a 5"/38 mount on Main Deck. Visitors can stroll the same teak decks today that the crewmen swabbed over fifty years ago. It’s not unusual to see visitors sitting or standing around the decks, remembering family members, loved ones, friends, or mere acquaintances, and the role those people may have played in keeping America free for modern day Americans.


RELOCATION COSTS OF USS ALABAMA (BB-60)

PREPARATION$35,331 (Preliminary surveys, engineering and specifications and supervision of rigging work by Todd Shipyard, Seattle. While work was being done, it was determined substantial savings could be made by doing some of the final work in Seattle (Some salvage can be obtained by sale of equipment purchased for the sea voyage)

INSURANCE: $27,947 (Hull Insurance, in the amount of $ 500,000, plus a total Property & Indemnity (Marine Liability) in the amount of $ 1,000,000, all of which met the Navy’s requirements, was arranged in the London market. In addition, $ 30,000 of 'demurrage’ insurance was arranged in the event the ship was detained at the Panama Canal on account of indicated bad weather.)

TOWING EXPENSE: $163,445 (Harbor tow - Bremerton to Seattle, plus pilot fee / Ocean tow - Seattle to Mobile, plus pilot fee)

DREDGING FOR CHANNEL & PARK SITE: $402,440 (More than two miles of channel, plus a pumped-up park site of approximately 75 acres (1,500' x 2,000'). Contract price indicated based on a unit (cubic yard) basis.)

ARRIVAL EXPENSE: $3,557 (Assisting tugs at Mobile, line handlers, etc. Mobile Bar Pilots & Harbor. Pilots waived their fees)

OTHER RELOCATION EXPENSE: $12,785 (Panama Canal fees, temporary mooring, tugs for final shift, engineering fees)

REFURBISHING: $36,478

LAND: $225,000 (75 acres, gangways, roads, parking lot, water service, power, fencing)

FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN EXPENSES (estimated): $100,000

VISITOR’S CENTER: $112,580 (Finished in 1966, original estimate $37,000)

BULKHEAD: $153,937 (Completed in 1967, original estimate $65,000)

NOTE: Final expenses were considerably higher than the original estimates to bring the ship home. The fundraising drive in spring 1964 had netted some $800,000, over ten percent of which came from the Alabama school children. The balance of the $800,000 was raised in the corporate and private community. To finance the balance, the Commission turned to two Mobile banks, Merchants National Bank (now Regions Bank) and First National Bank of Mobile (now PNC Bank). A third bank, American National Bank, joined the three in participatory loans, which helped the Park survive in those early years. Since the majority of the visitors to the Park came in the summer, these banks would loan the Park operating monies in the lean winter months, and be repaid in the thriving summer months. This practice continued until the 1980s when the Park finally had enough reserves to make it all year.