Wednesday, June 27, 2012

NOLA Navy Week: A Photographic Retrospective

I finally have a little break in the Home Improvement action.  I've been wanting to post a batch of pictures and videos that I took when NOLA Navy Week kicked off on April 17th to accompany my April 23rd post, so here we go. 

Through my work with the Louisiana Committee of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve ("ESGR"), and Pepper's "employer" position as Director of Labor relations for the local utility company, we wrangled an invitation to participate in a "Bosslift" as the ships traveled up the Mississippi. Bosslifts are one method that ESGR uses to educate employers of Guardsmen and Reservists about just exactly what their employees do when wearing their military "hats."  We've flown them in C-130s, toured bases, shown them how the Coast Guard performs marine rescues -- any number of things.  But, this was going to be a spectacular Bosslift.

After a safety briefing, we were to be flown via Blackhawk helicopter to land on the U.S.S Wasp, a multipurpose amphibious assault ship, as she traveled upriver to her berthing station near the Crescent City Connection bridge.  We were to have lunch with crew members and observe them at their duty stations.  What a dream come true for a little girl born to a Daddy in the Navy, and who grew up to marry an Army chopper jockey!

Dream gone bad.  The weather gods had different ideas, mainly due to the high winds, and the flight was canceled (not to mention the weekend's Blue Angels air show).

To make it up to us, a local paddlewheeler boat, Creole Queen, was engaged to ferry us downriver as the ships came up, and we were allowed to follow Wasp to her berth -- a two-hour adventure, complete with complimentary cocktails!  In driving winds and drenching rain.  But, it was fascinating and we stayed outdoors on the aft deck the entire time.  What a view!  Herewith, some pics and videos:

Sailors in real uniforms from the U.S.S. Constitution.  Pretty cool.

A taste of the lousy weather as we headed downriver.

Passing one of the military ships.

And a couple of videos.

This is one of the Merchant Marine vessels that use the Mississippi as home berth, when they're not being dispatched all over the globe.  One of them was used after Katrina -- at the really brave direction of her Captain, who had been ordered not to do so by the brass -- as a provider of dialysis services in sick bay (since the hospitals were kaput), and supplier of fuel from her own tanks for emergency vehicles.  Captain Lansden was later commended by the White House for his humanitarian aid, and rightly so.

Here comes Wasp!

And there she goes!  You can tell how they launch amphibious landing craft aft.

This is the old dock at the former Naval Support Activity.  A Field Artillery unit from the Louisiana National Guard fired a 21 gun (cannon!) salute as each ship passed by.  You'll see more in a video below.

Wasp rounding the bend by the French Quarter.

Wasp being pushed into her berth by tugboats.  There's a pretty strong riverboat pilots' union around here.

View of the St. Louis Cathedral and Jax Brewery in the French Quarter from the water.

The Ecuadoran tall ship, BAE Guayas, at berth.

The Indonesian tall ship, Dewaruci, at berth.

The U.S. Coast Guard tall ship, Eagle, at berth.  She's actually a commissioned training vessel.  I'll post more pics later from the day I volunteered for the tall ships, from aboard Dewaruci and Eagle.

Coast Guard fast boats patrolling.  There was lots of security.

And, as the paddlewheeler Creole Queen heads back to dock, her steam calliope salutes the American ships with a medley of sea services anthems.  A pretty impressive and memorable day!


  1. Those are some great pics, and I am sure it was a great day. But to ride in a Blackhawk and land on the Wasp would have been way cool!

  2. Thanks, Muph!

    I know, Lou. I'm still getting over that loss.

    There's hopefully one more video to come that wouldn't load.

  3. Brilliant! Are those iPhone vids? Not bad...

  4. Yep -- all taken on the iPhone.