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(WMV format, click above to play joke video)

The first time I heard this story, it was the USS New Jersey and they were challenged by a destroyer patrolling near Vietnam (during the Vietnam War).

For those that don’t know, the New Jersey was the last of the indestructible battleships made at the end of World War II.

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It was heavily armored to withstand 18″ Japanese shells. (A destroyer has 5″ guns.)

The patrolling destroyer demanded that the New Jersey identify herself (it was night and they could clearly spot the New Jersey on radar but couldn’t make out what ship it was). As the story goes, the destroyer’s Captain got on the radio and said that if the unknown ship didn’t identify herself, he would open fire.

The New Jersey’s captain finally answered back:

“This is the USS New Jersey …. Fire at will!”

Not quite the same joke as the one above, but I bet the sailors on the New Jersey got a kick out of it.

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I was lucky enough to serve aboard the last armored cruiser, the USS Long Beach (CGN-9). From the main deck down it had HY80 steel armor. It also had teak wood decks!

Strangely, they decided to save weight by building the huge superstructure from aluminum (no armor). Thus the bridge (11 stories up in the air) was completely un-armored. An armored hull with a Coke can superstructure never made sense to me.

The Long Beach has been decommissioned. The hull (without the superstructure) resides in the mothball fleet at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, WA. It  was a victim of age and the “peace dividend” of military cost cutting at the end of the Cold War. The rest of the nuclear powered cruisers were also decommissioned as their reactors ran out of fuel. Congress decided that it was cheaper to by new gas turbine powered cruisers and pay for the fuel (jet fuel) in future years rather than refueling the nuclear powered cruisers (requiring an investment in 20 years of nuclear fuel in the current budget).

So when you hear politicians TALK about global warming and the price of gas, remember, they didn’t do anything about it when they had the chance. They could have used nuclear powered ships, saved on fuel and cut greenhouse gasses but they decided that they had other priorities (like getting reelected).

What do you think … Will politicians admit they when they are wrong? Or will they steam full speed ahead and hit the lighthouse?