MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – Something is happening to the popular tourist attraction, the U.S.S. Alabama, that hasn’t happened in 72 years.
It’s all part of a big anniversary celebration that’s coming up soon.
Crews are repairing a radar system that has been on the USS Alabama.
Earlier this week, a crane removed the system and lowered it to the ground for repairs.
Deputy Director of Operations at USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park Rick Brannon said, “It’s rusted real bad. We’re going to completely refurbish it, sandblast it, put new steel on it.”
Brannon said this is the first time in 72 years the radar antenna has been removed.
FIRST OF ITS KIND IN THE PACIFIC
He said the Alabama was the first ship in the Pacific during World War II to have this specific type of air search radar.
It played an important role during a World War II engagement in the Philippine Sea in June of 1944.
Brannon said, “It was able to pick up the Japanese aircraft coming toward our fleet ahead of any of the other American ships.”
JANUARY 9, 2015
The radar will be back up in time for a celebration on January 9, 2015.
That will be the 50th anniversary of the ship’s opening to the public in Mobile.
Brannon said, “We’re doing some things between now and then. The radar being repaired for one thing, and the ship is getting ready to have a complete fresh paint job on it.”
PLENTY OF VISITORS
In 50 years, the battleship has hosted a lot of visitors like Bob Russell, who stopped there Wednesday, May 14 on his way from South Carolina to New Orleans.
Russell said, “I’m kind of hooked on military aviation and Navy equipment and stuff, so, it was kind of a natural draw.”
A draw memorial officials hope will keep attracting people for years to come.
The ship is scheduled to be re-painted starting August 1.