The beast was the USS San Antonio on display at Pier 92 giving free educational tours to the public during NYC’s Fleet Week.
These are not your typical Memorial Day red, white and blue, flag waving, marching band and balloons images; these images were taken from a unique perspective wandering inside the body of a mammoth naval warship.
I took the N to 49th Street and walked up towards the Hudson River, taking a few shots along the way. When I arrived at the corner of 49th and 12th I was detoured up to 54th and then crossing over to the pier side came up against a dense crowd of adults and children all waiting to take the tour. I thought I would find an open space along the pier to take a few photos before going aboard but, everything was blocked off and I had no other choice but to get back on “the line” and follow the crowd. I did manage to catch a quick shot of a goose standing watch like a life guard as children ran and played in the sun.
Back on “the line” I showed my photo ID at the entrance and walked through a zigzag of aluminum barriers and out into a side show of military muscle power; i.e., gigantic tanks and trucks, a scary but, impressive looking piece of artillery known as a Howitzer. It was scary to me but, the kids just love it and crawled all over it like ants on a piece of candy. In fact the whole of the tour was “hands on” for the kids. And the proud young military personnel couldn’t have been nicer and more welcoming happily posing for photos, answering questions and giving demonstrations on safety and rescue operations.
At the end of the this educational walk we passed through a security check point similar to an airport before entering into the ship. I knew right away that photography was going to be a challenge not only because of the many visitors, who seemed to be everywhere at once but, because most of the tour was inside the ship which was very dark. At one point though we were herded out onto the flight deck to marvel at an MV-22 Osprey, posing like a movie star for the hundreds of photos being taken of it. After that it was back on “the line” which now snaked around to the other side of the ship, and back down inside the iron bowels of the boat.
This part of the tour took us through some very narrow walkways and “the line” slowed down to a crawl. It was hot, dark and very, very close and claustrophobia was beginning to kick in. To keep myself from going insane I cranked up the ISO and started taking photos of the space enveloping me. As I twisted around I started to see in the abstract and began composing images of the many wires, cables, pipes, nuts, bolts, fire equipment, ventilation shafts, exit doors, etc. You name it, I took a photo of it. We passed through the sleeping quarters (talk about claustrophobic) and the hospital. We came out into the day light, for a short period of time, on our way to the dark but blessedly wide open well deck where, on display were amphibious assault vehicles and all of their oceanic accouterments.
Finished with the tour and outside in the bright sunshine, I filled my lungs with fresh air and then walked down towards 46th Street to pay my Memorial Day respects to the venerable Intrepid sitting in state at pier 86 on the Hudson River. I finished my photographic day taking a few architectural shots as I walked up 42nd Street toward the subway and home.
To all of our proud and daring Soldiers, Sailors and Pilots past and present, we Thank You on this day and all days, for putting your lives on the line so we can live our lives in freedom. HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY!