USS Midway Museum Celebrates its 10th Anniversary
For one of the really fun things to do in San Diego, don't miss your chance to tour the USS Midway. Sitting quietly alongside the Navy Pier, and extending 1,000 feet into the San Diego Harbor, the USS Midway is a sight to behold. Unless you come and visit the USS Midway Museum in person, you won’t be able to truly appreciate the massive scale of this mighty aircraft carrier. When the USS Midway was commissioned back in 1945, it became the largest ship in the world.
Just How Big is the USS Midway
It will probably take you a good five minutes to walk the 1,001 foot length from bow to stern. The flight deck is 258 feet in width and has an area of just over 4 acres. It seems amazing that you could build a ship that weighs 70,000 tons that could stay afloat, but surprisingly enough, it only has a draft of about 29 feet below the water line.
With 18 decks, the USS Midway is as tall as a 20-floor apartment building. Each anchor weighs 20,000 pounds and each link on the several thousand feet of anchor chain weighs roughly 130 pounds. Elevators that lift the planes up to the flight deck from below-deck storage have a capacity of 110,000 pounds.
You would be wrong if you guessed that 70,000 tons of steel could only move along at about 15 knots. However, if you saw the size of the 12 boilers and 4 propellers that powered the aircraft carrier, you could understand that the top speed was listed at 33 knots or 38 mph. Based on the 212,000 horsepower that can be generated, it is probably safe to assume that the USS Midway was capable of doing better than 33 knots if the situation called for more speed.
Powering the USS Midway requires a tremendous amount of fuel. On average, the ship used 100,000 gallons of fuel every day to run the engines and keep the lights on. To travel one mile required approximately 260 gallons of fuel. How far can your car go on 260 gallons of fuel?
Days of Service
The USS Midway was commissioned just after the end of WWII on September 10, 1945. It was named after the pivotal Battle of Midway in which Navy dive bombers sank four of the Japanese carriers that were used to launch the attack on Pearl Harbor. After America’s victory in the Pacific theatre, the tide turned and America went on to defeat Japan and help put an end to the war.
The USS Midway went through three tours of duty in the Tonkin Gulf during the Vietnam War. It became the first carrier to be “forward deployed” in a foreign country when it was based and sailed out of Yokosuka, Japan for a stint of 17 years. In 1992, the USS Midway ended its run of 47 years of service (longest of any aircraft carrier in the 20th century) and was decommissioned. Twelve years later, in 2004, it sailed into San Diego Harbor and became the USS Midway Museum.
Visiting the USS Midway Museum
The museum is open from 10 am to 5 pm every day of the year except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. You don’t have to know that the exact address is 910 North Harbor Drive to be spot this floating landmark that is, by far, the most impressive vessel in the Harbor. The USS Midway is docked just a hop, skip, and a jump from the San Diego Convention Center and Seaport Village.
General admission is $20 and there are reduced rates for Seniors, Students, Military and Youth. You can also get discounts off of the general admission price you pay at the gate by buying your tickets online. Free admission is offered to Active-duty military personnel and children five years of age or younger. To get the most out of your visit you can take a guided tour of the superstructure above the flight deck. The docent-led tour is free with admission. For more extensive docent-led tours of the USS Midway, there is an additional fee.
Once you come aboard the aircraft carrier, be prepared to do a lot of walking. Remember, this ship was designed to function like a small city. It housed a crew of approximately 4,500 people and would be out at sea for months at a time. There are multiple decks to this museum and you may be climbing up and down stairs if you want to see all of the 60-plus exhibits.
The Midway Museum is one of the top attractions in San Diego. Annual attendance over the last few years has averaged close to a million people. Visitors run the gamut from large school groups and families with young children to the older generation and military veterans who served aboard the USS Midway. The museum gets a fair share of international visitors from all parts of the world.
Time seems to fly, almost as fast as the planes that launched from the flight deck, once you come aboard. Whether you are taking a self-guided audio tour, or are part of an organized tour, allow yourself 3-4 hours to get the full experience.
Exhibits & Things to Do
All of the exhibits help you get a real feel and understanding about how an aircraft carrier functions and what life was like for all of those that sailed aboard this floating city. Among the many things you will get to see are the crew’s sleeping quarters, the huge galley where more than 12,000 meals were prepared each day, the ship’s prison, machine shops, and, of course, many of the planes that were catapulted off the flight deck.
Kids will love climbing aboard the planes and pretending they are jet fighter pilots. If you want to get an even more realistic flying experience, get behind the controls of a flight simulator. Add in some videos, music and all of the memorabilia and you will not have a moment to be bored. Well, if you want to take a little break, that’s allowed too.
From the flight deck, you can stand and take in the panoramic views of the Harbor and the Coronado Bridge. If you want to break up the day a bit, why not have lunch at the ship’s Fantail Café. Dine on the patio and enjoy a nice selection of salads, sandwiches, burgers and drinks.
Don’t leave without visiting the gift shop. Pick up a Midway sweatshirt, book, DVD or any number of unique souvenirs and mementos. You will always remember your visit to the USS Midway.
There are plenty of attractions in San Diego, so reserve your stay at the Mission Valley Resort for fantastic relaxing times.