USS Midway – Giant steam powered aircraft carrier

Energy & Sustainability
USS Midway – Giant steam powered aircraft carrier

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If you’re in San Diego and want to see a giant example of extreme engineering (steam powered too) – check out the Midway museum, it’s an aircraft carrier circa WWII that served all the way up to the Kuwait war (1992) – it was he longest serving aircraft carrier in the history of the U.S. Navy. I was interested in the machine and welding shop on board in addition to the clever “hacks” at the time for doing thing with just 12 boilers for power and everything else. The staff has an encyclopedic-like knowledge of the entire vessel and answered all the questions I could think up. More photos here – Link.

Midway museum – Link.

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14 thoughts on “USS Midway – Giant steam powered aircraft carrier

  1. rbrsidedn says:

    ummmm…All Aircraft Carriers are steam powered. The difference is in how they make the steam.

  2. Timbo says:

    The Midway is really great. I visited during the SfN Neuroscience ’08 meeting. All the ex-crewman there make it really alive. Stunning to see with what kind of old technology the US went into the Gulf War…

  3. rkovar says:

    Damn you rbrisdedn That is what I was going to say. Ahh yes, The steamcycle. Once you get your SW You will never forget

  4. Josh says:


    Old Technology? State of the art in ship propulsion hasn’t really changed in quite a while.

    During the Gulf War, the really high tech stuff on the USS Midway was in the air.

  5. Dave Barak says:

    Hey, cool! I’m a docent at the USS Midway Museum, and I also volunteer in the Exhibits Department.

    Another volunteer and I are working to restore computer navigation equipment and other pieces of equipment in the Ship’s Inertial Navigation System (SINS) Room. We’re working to get the tape drives spinning, the old Univac 642B and supporting equipment “running” (it will be simulated), the gyros rocking back and forth, etc. It’s a pretty complicated project, involving everything from electronics to brute force metalwork.

    I just proposed to my co-volunteer that we write up the project for In fact, I found while looking for solutions online for some of the challenges we’ve faced with this project.

    By the way, the welding and sheet metal shops are still in use by us Exhibits volunteers and the maintenance staff, and the welding shop may be, too. (I’m not a welder, so I’ve never had a need to ask about it.)

    Once you get into the details of the steam plant operation, it’s amazingly complex (same as it would be on a nuke).

    I could spend two or three days taking people around, there’s that much stuff to talk about.

  6. Dave Barak says:

    Oops, correction. Some of the machinery in the welding shop is still in use, but I’m not sure if anything in the machine shop is.

  7. Rudy says:

    Hi all. I’m the Exhibits manager aboard Midway, and yes, Dave, the machine shop has been restored by our Engineering and Restoration Departments, but they haven’t been able to find something that needs to be worked ont he lathes yet. They use the other equipment such as the drill presses and mechanized metal saws, etc. Rudy

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