One hundred years ago today, 14 February 1912, Arizona became the 48th state of the United States of America.
The most notable ship to bear the name Arizona was, of course, the battleship USS Arizona, which was attacked by Japanese aircraft on 7 December 1941 at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. She exploded and sank, killing 1,177 officers and crewmen.
USS Arizona was never salvaged. In 1962 a memorial staddling the wreck was opened. I visited the memorial in 2006 and, like countless others, was moved to look below and see fuel, still rising from the ship’s submerged bunkers, create an iriridescent sheen on the water’s surface. A beautiful and awful sight.
The only ocean liner of note named after the Grand Canyon State was Guion Line’s Arizona (1879). This British-registered vessel was one of the fastest passenger ships of her era and was the one of first to be regarded as an express liner, although she never held the Blue Riband. On 7 November 1879, Arizona collided with an iceberg and survived.
After Guion Lines ended service, Arizona was sold to the U.S. government and served in both the Spanish American War and World War I (under the name USS Hancock). In 1926, the venerable ship went to the breakers.
Landlocked Arizona has no ports, no oceanfront property, yet lots and lots of sand. The Sonoran desert is breathtaking, in many places seemingly vast and endless—a dry ocean analogue.
My entire office is now completely illuminated with LEDs. I feel like I’ve entered a new era. My office is now actually brighter than when it was lit by incandescent and compact fluorescent bulbs.
I wonder which ship will be the first to take full advantage of this energy-conserving technology in its staterooms and public areas? Lamp prices are still pretty high, yet fuel savings will eventually create a positive return. I also like the fact that LED bulbs generate much less heat than their conventional counterparts—a big advantage here in Arizona.
Incidentally, the first ocean liner with electric lights was Columbia (1880) of the San Francisco and Portland Steamship Co. Astoundingly, the vessel was denied insurance coverage on her first voyage because the insurer believed that the technology was dangerous. (And oil lamps were considered safe?)
Here’s a link to an article about Columbia, her electric lights and her insurance woes. Wikipedia also has a nice article about Columbia and her near-destruction in the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 as well as her tragic demise the following year.
If I could travel across time, I would transport myself back to 1947 and sail on Queen Mary from New York to Southampton (first class, of course). I would then travel by train up to Blackpool to catch the show promoted on the poster below.
For the journey back to New York, I’d sail on the new (relatively speaking) Queen Elizabeth.
Is life really better these days? Well, I enjoy the technology. I hope you do, too.
Beginning next month, reports the Guardian, the English National Opera (ENO) is staging four operas written in the past 30 years, including John Adams’ The Death of Klinghoffer, based on the 1985 hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro by the Palestine Liberation Front. The production will be staged by War Horse director Tom Morris.
I’ve seen the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Adams’ Nixon in China and really enjoyed it (my wife hated it). I’d also like to see The Death of Klinghoffer, but I think the chances of it being staged here in the Phoenix area are about the same as finding snow on my lawn tomorrow morning.
Here’s an interesting Queen Mary postcard. It’s actually a 1980 signal verification report from the ship’s amateur radio station, W6RO. The “WB2IBE” the card is addressed to happens to be me, back when I lived in New York. My current callsign is W6JE.
Associated Radio Amateurs of Long Beach still maintains a ham station inside Queen Mary’s old wireless room. I’d love to be able to operate the station for a few hours, since my family emigrated to America on QM. I’m unable, however, to meet the four-hours-per-month time commitment the organization requires (I live 400 miles away from Queen Mary, so it would be a monumental commute).
Still, I like that idea that Queen Mary continues to reach out to people around the world, even while permanently moored in Long Beach.