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Aboard the USS Wisconsin, guests now have twice as much to explore

A tug boat nudges the bow of the battleship USS Wisconsin (BB 64) as the ship is pushed from the Norfolk Naval Shipyard to the Nauticus Museum in Norfolk, Va., on Dec. 7, 2000.

R. DAVID VALDEZ/ U.S. NAVY PHOTO

By ANA LEY | The Virginian-Pilot | Published: August 17, 2019

NORFOLK, Va. (Tribune News Service) — The maze of corridors and living spaces open to the public at the USS Wisconsin has doubled, giving visitors twice as much to explore on the massive battleship that once housed nearly 3,000 personnel.

In the newly opened hospital, guests can now look around the ship’s pharmacy, surgery room and isolation ward. They can also check out the barber shop where sailors had their hair cut and the jail where some were confined.

Nauticus doubled the explorable space on the Battleship Wisconsin in May as part of a yearlong 75th Commissioning Anniversary Celebration of the ship, which was used during World War II, the Korean War and the Persian Gulf War.

The ship and its new exhibits drew a mix of people Saturday morning, including current and former military personnel who wanted to reminisce over their service and tourists who just wanted to soak in some history.

“Oh, a library!” a woman exclaimed as she approached the newly opened space and its rows of bookshelves, open study areas and a hatch that leads straight down to the brig.

“That’s what I like to hear,” said Clayton Allen, battleship operations manager for Nauticus, where the Wisconsin is a floating museum.

On a walk through the ship, Allen watched with delight as guests scanned the Wisconsin’s tight halls, shimmied down its stairs, and snapped photographs of displays. He stopped every so often to point visitors to the new sections and to thank them for their support of the retired vessel.

David Mitchell, 43, spent 24 years in the Navy and he wanted to show his dad and fiancee the ship’s combat engagement center.

“It’d be the brain of the ship,” Mitchell said. “It’s where all the radar censors and all the fire control systems are.”

Jennell Alexander, 43, was visiting with her family from Washington for a trip to Virginia Beach. They decided to check out the Wisconsin after her husband learned about it online.

“It’s always good to keep the kids learning all the time, even during summer breaks,” said Alexander, a real estate agent. “It’s definitely an opportunity to explore and open your eyes to new things.”

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©2019 The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.)
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