Few could have predicted the impact the USS Alabama Battleship would have on this country’s history when the keel was laid on Feb. 1, 1940 in Portsmouth, Virginia. This ship, constructed at the Norfolk Navy Yard, first set sail in the North Atlantic in 1943 before traveling to the South Pacific seas a few months later. Today, visitors can view this ship in Mobile, Alabama, where it serves not only as a memorial but also as a National Historic Landmark.
‘Heroine of the Pacific’ during World War II
Approximately 2,500 courageous individuals called the USS Alabama home during the war. Coming in at 45,000 tons, BB-60, as this ship was commonly known, led a fleet of Americans into Tokyo Bay on Sept. 5, 1945. Due to her amazing service, the USS Alabama Battleship was dubbed the “Heroine of the Pacific” and the ‘Mighty A’ and was honored with nine Battle Stars for her meritorious service.
Following the War
Numerous ships leave the service following a war, but this wasn’t the case with the Mighty A. When the federal government announced the ship, along with many others, would be scrapped in 1962, Alabamians came together to prevent this from happening. They visualized the ship as the main draw for visitors to the Veterans Memorial Park planned for Mobile.
Their vision came to fruition on Jan. 9, 1965, when this park, known as the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park, welcomed its first visitors. The ship has also been used for other purposes, such as appearing in the Nicholas Cage movie USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage.
State Reaps Benefits
More than 15,000 people have visited the park since it opened, and the state is reaping the benefits. It is believed the economic impact on Alabama now approaches a billion dollars. The park has now become the most recognizable symbol in the state.
It is dedicated to all citizens of the state who have served in America’s armed forces. It also serves as the most unique military attraction in the country thanks to its countless exhibits, displays and artifacts.
Other Exhibits at the Park
The USS Alabama Battleship isn’t the only watercraft at the park. Visitors can also view the USS Drum, the oldest US submarine available for public view. This submarine housed 72 sailors during the war together with Stateside, the crew’s pet dog. On July 4, 1969, the public was first allowed to tour the submarine.
The aircraft pavilion should not be missed, either. Visitors can find more than 25 historic planes in the pavilion, along with military vehicles, such as the Mach 3 A-12 Blackbird spy plane. Visitors can enjoy The Great War exhibit found on the site, and a gift shop, snack bar, picnic area and fishing pier are available for guests.
Programs and Events Throughout the Year
Make the most of each visit with various programs offered at the park. Plan a school trip or an overnight stay. Military activities are available along with birthday and private parties. Request a group tour if several people will be visiting at the same time also. Be sure to ask about upcoming events when planning a visit, so you don’t miss out on something special because you weren’t aware of it.
Children under the age of 5 are admitted for free, children ages 6 to 11 gain entrance for $6, and those 12 and older pay $15 to visit the park. Discounts are available for seniors, the military and AAA members. Payment forms accepted include American Express, Visa, Discover, and Mastercard.
Directions to the Park
To visit the park, take either the Old Spanish Trail or US Highway 98. The park is located at 2703 Battleship Parkway in Mobile. The park is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. April through September and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. October through March. It remains accessible to guests 364 days a year, only closing Christmas Day.
Don’t Forget to Visit Other Mobile Attractions
When you’re in Mobile, take time to visit the Oakleigh House, where history comes to life. This complex and period house museum tells the story of cotton picking, urban slavery, the expansion of the railroad, and more.
The Hadley Law Firm office in Mobile is located at 4087 Cottage Hill Road.