USS Zumwalt – the Navy’s most intimidating creation

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Lieutenant Steve Chesser was responsible for setting up the tours on the Iowa Class ships when they visited Australia in the mid to late 80s. Captain Thigpen got me abourd the nuclear sub when it ws moored in San Diego.

Each member of my family (4) was given USS Missouri and USS New Jersey caps – with scrambled eggs (admiral’s braiding)! Nobody ever gets that shit. I doubt there woud be a single other in all of Australia.

The only things we were not allowed to see or discuss on any US Navy vessel were the guided missiles. We were told in no uncertain terms they were not to be even mentioned. Ever. I went into the torpedo room on USS Pasadena, looked through the periscope, I ate in the mess. We’re talking tours that lasted many hours.

When the big boats came to Australia, we were picked up by the Captain in his personal ‘gig’ and taken out to the ship. No shit. They hired a professional photographer to document the tours and framed all the pics (signed by the Captain) just for me. A very large man was appointed to escort my mother wherever she wished to go and he had to carry her handbag. When we went into the Captain’s quarters, he refused to cross the threshold of the room, saying “I aint never been in here, Maam, this is no place for me”.

In Sydney one year, some arsehole protesting against nuclear whatever decided to try and do something (no one could work out what) to the ship by using SCUBA gear. The silly fuckwit got sucked into a seawater inlet and very nearly drowned. All of a sudden, sirens started blaring (and I mean fucking LOUD) with someone on the speakers screaming “Man overboard!!”. At first we thought they were just putting on a show for us. But the very INSTANT that call was made, every single member of the crew began running in all different directions – like they instantly knew what they had to do. They were not fucking around. We were nearly knocked over in the rush.

One of my favourite things was ‘bug juice’, a drink they had in dispensers all over the ship. You could get red or orange. I liked the orange and they gave me as much as I could drink.

You cannot grasp the size of these things – it is utterly crazy how big they are when you stand in the bridge and look over them. Standing on the deck of a submarine is unreal. Looking down into the water, you see the hull bulge out massively. The surface is like very thick tiles of asphalt. Your feet make no sound. It’s weird.

If you have any specific questios, feel free to ask.

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