• Home
  • Books
  • Archives
  • Subscribe
  • Contributors
  • Contact Us  
  • Blog  
  • Advertise on AR and GH

    Published 5-11-2020

    Norfolk is the second largest city in Virginia. Its history has much to do with its location at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay. It has Chesapeake Bay to the north and the Elizabeth River to the west and south, giving it a tremendous amount of waterfront.  All that water also means it has an interesting naval and maritime history. That history is on display at one of the city’s best museums: the Nauticus, which includes the Hampton Roads Naval Museum and the Battleship Wisconsin.

     Museum in Norfolk

    Nauticus is a maritime museum, plus an interactive science and technology center that explores the naval, economic, and nautical power of the sea. It has Battleship Wisconsin-related exhibits, hands-on exhibits, national-caliber traveling exhibits, HD and 3D films on a giant screen, and even live sharks. History buffs will find plenty of naval history, especially related to Hampton Roads and the Battleship Wisconsin.

    Man and woman standing by large anchor
    As you’d expect a huge anchor at the front of the museum, plus a couple of travel mates.

    The museum includes many fascinating exhibits. An example is “Secrets of the Deep” where you or your family can step inside a submersible named the Clelia and pretend to be the pilot or a NOAA scientist. You control a nine-foot long robotic arm to collect samples from the seafloor or operate a remote-controlled camera to explore a wreck site. While Nauticus is not an aquarium, there is plenty of sea life on display. Horseshoe Crab Cove provides a chance for kids of all ages to admire and touch a horseshoe crab. Shark Experience includes several types of sharks.

     submersable celia

    The submersible “Clelia,” part of a very interactive exhibit.
    Horseshoe Crab Cove,
    Horseshoe Crab Cove, a chance to touch a horseshoe crab.
    Not all the sharks are huge at Shark Experience.
    sea life at the museum.
    There is plenty of sea life at the museum.  

    The Battleship Wisconsin is one of the four Iowa-class battleships commissioned in 1939 and 1940 and built during World War II (the others were the Iowa, New Jersey, and Missouri). It was launched two years after Pearl Harbor. These four were the last battleships commissioned by the U.S. Navy. The Wisconsin served in World War II, the Korean War, and fired Tomahawk missiles during the Persian Gulf War in 1991. “The Big Wisky” was one of the largest American battleships ever built. Its length is just over 887 feet. Its main weapons were 16-inch guns, with 800-inch length barrels, each weighing 146 tons. It fired rounds weighing over a ton, which could hit targets over 24 miles away.

    Battleship ammunition for 16-inch guns and a Volkswagen equal weight.
    Battleship ammunition for 16-inch guns; note the weight is equal to a Volkswagen.
    What battleship with huge hoel side of a ship.
    What battleship ammunition can do the side of a ship.
    Naval history exhibits  about the battleship.
    Naval history exhibits include lots of material on the battleship.
     ship models at the museum.
    As you’d expect, there are lots of ship models at the museum.

    The Wisconsin provided support at the Battle of Iwo Jima, sustained damage from a 155 mm round in the Korean War, and was the last U.S. battleship to fire its guns in combat. The City of Norfolk took over ownership of the battleship in 2010, creating today’s museum ship. Self-guided tours are fun and easy, but there are more formal ones like a guided command and control tour or a “life in the engine room” guided tour.


    Side view of the Wisconsin.
    Side view of the Wisconsin.
    The guns of the Wisconsin.
    The guns of the Wisconsin.
    The Wisconsin firing guns
    The Wisconsin had some serious firepower.

    The battleship had all the elements of a small city. From the basic elements of places to eat and sleep, to complex elements like dental and medical care, libraries, and production facilities. Officers had private or semi-private quarters (depending upon rank). It takes hours to really gain insights into how the ship must have operated and how the sailors had to live.


    Ship’s cafeteria.
    Ship’s cafeteria. The sailors ate well.
    Ships mess area.
    Ships mess area.
    Berthing area for enlisted men.
    Berthing area for enlisted men.
    Officers quarters
    Officer’s stateroom.

    The ship had a general workshop, including a machine shop containing large machines like lathes, mills, drill presses, and saws. One important task was to fabricate parts not carried onboard the ship. The battleship even had a public affairs office. Journalists, photographers, and public relations junior line officers usually served as a public affairs officer. Of course, the ship had a chapel. 


    Machine shop
    Machine shop
    Public affairs office.
    Public affairs office.
    Ship’s chapel.
    Ship’s chapel.

    Nauticus is waterfront in Norfolk, walking distance to the restaurants, and we walked to it from our hotel. While a half day will do, there is easily a full day’s adventure there. The “Big Wisky” BB64 Café which offers fun, tasty, and creative spins on classic American Fare as well as culinary-inspired dishes from Asia and the South Pacific Islands is in the Nauticus if you need to eat lunch. That is a good reason to make a day of it.


    Author: Thomas J. Straka is a forestry professor at Clemson University. He has a keen interest in history.


    For additional information:

    Nauticus, Featuring the Battleship Wisconsin website


    Nauticus & USS Battleship Wisconsin (State of Virginia)





    For additional information:



    We'd love your comments!


    Connect with us on:


    American Roads and
    Global Highways has so many great articles you
    may want to search it for your favorite places
    or new exciting destinations.

    Live Search





    Public Disclosure-- Please Read
    The FTC has a law requiring web sites to let their readers know if any of the stories are "sponsored" or compensated. We also are to let readers know if any of our links are ads. Most are not. They are just a way to direct you  to more information about the article where the link is placed. We also have several ads on our pages.  They are clearly marked as ads. I think readers are smart enough to know an ad when they see one but to obey the letter of the law, I am putting this statement here to make sure everyone understands. American Roads and Global Highways may contain affiliate links or ads. Further, as their bios show, most of the feature writers are professional travel writers. As such we are frequently invited on press trips, also called fam trips. On these trips most of our lodging, dining, admissions fees and often plane fare are covered by the city or firm hosting the trip. It is an opportunity to visit places we might not otherwise be able to visit. However, no one tells us what to write about those places. All opinions are 100% those of the author of that feature column. 

    Privacy Policy/ ArchivesContributors / Subscribe to American Roads Books by Kathleen Walls / ContactSponsor or Advertise/ American Roads & Global Highways Home Page
    Copyright 2017 AmericanRoads.net, all rights reserved   |