Heroic destroyer of Puget Sound: Exploring the USS Turner Joy

For 23 years the destroyer USS Turner Joy crossed oceans and performed duties in wartime and in peace. Here's a look inside.

Geoffrey Morrison
Geoffrey Morrison is a writer/photographer about tech and travel for CNET, The New York Times, and other web and print publications. He's also the Editor-at-Large for The Wirecutter. He has written for Sound&Vision magazine, Home Theater magazine, and was the Editor-in-Chief of Home Entertainment magazine. He is NIST and ISF trained, and has a degree in Television/Radio from Ithaca College. His bestselling novel, Undersea, and its sequel, Undersea Atrophia, are available in paperback and digitally on Amazon. He spends most of the year as a digital nomad, living and working while traveling around the world. You can follow his travels at BaldNomad.com and on his YouTube channel.
Geoffrey Morrison
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USS Turner Joy

Sitting peacefully in Puget Sound, not far from where she was first commissioned, is the USS Turner Joy.

For even more details about this historic ship, and this tour, read Cold War destroyer: Inside the USS Turner Joy.

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Aft fantail

The Turner Joy had three 5-inch guns, two aft and one forward. They could fire up to 34 rounds per minute. In 1965, after firing over 700 rounds, a "hang-fire" developed in one of the 5-inch guns. As they attempted to clear the muzzle, the shell exploded, killing three men and injuring three more. 

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This is inside the gun, which is quite a cramped space, as you'd expect. Two of the 14 men on the gun crew were here, the rest were below. 

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Gun below

This is underneath the other aft gun. The elaborate machinery is needed not only to rotate the turret, but to quickly load the shells. 

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CPO Mess

The Chief Petty Officer's Mess, i.e. the senior enlisted men's dining room. 

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Who you gonna call?

The phone on the left is labeled "Administration" and includes things like the Pilot House and Captain's Sea Cabin. The one on the right is "Engineers" and connects with, well, different engineering areas. 

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Sick bay

Interestingly, there was no medical doctor on board. Instead medical issues were treated by hospital corpsmen.

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Office space

Check out that copier and monitor. This is the Supply Office.

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Between 258-283 enlisted men served on board. The 17 officers ate elsewhere. 

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Not many jobs on a ship I'd want less than cook. 

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This oddball piece of machinery is the windlass, used to raise the anchors. 

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All aft from here

The very bow of the ship, used for line and other storage.

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Fire control

All the advanced computers (for the late 1950s) and gear to help get the guns aimed correctly. 

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Hello, computer

Meet the electro-mechanical Mk 47 computer. Using a number of variables and inputs, it would determine how to aim the guns to hit a target. At 12 miles (19 km) the guns had a claimed accuracy of plus or minus 10 yards (9 meters).   

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Dynamic tester

This thing created fake targets to test the firing computer. The computer would say what it would do to hit the target, and the crew would compare that to the "answer" provided by the tester. That's me taking the picture. Howdy!

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Not words that anyone would use to describe me. 

Inside is a gyroscope that the fire control computer would use to calculate how to keep the guns level while the boat moved. 

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The AN/SPG-53 fire control radar, one for each gun. 

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The red trigger, also called a firing key, fired the guns. The gray fired star shells from a dedicated launcher. These flares had parachutes and would illuminate an area for 55 seconds.

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Every space that could fit a bunk, fits a bunk.

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One of many heads throughout the ship. 

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The boxy unit is a reduction gearbox that connects the turbines and the propellers. 

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A closeup of two of the huge gears. 

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Distillation plant

The Turner Joy runs on steam turbines, so there are pipes everywhere.   

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Also called evaporators, or evaps, the Turner Joy used a flash-type that preheated seawater and injected it into a vacuum chamber to instantly covert it to steam. The steam is condensed back into pure water.

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Engine room

The two steam turbines generate 35,000 horsepower each, giving the Turner Joy a top speed of 32 knots (37 mph). 

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These are two of the ship's four electrical generators. The other two are in the aft engine room, one of the few parts of the ship that's isn't accessible. 

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One of the boilers used to heat up the water into steam. 

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Stairs and platforms

It's rare that engine rooms on museum ships are completely open. Too many narrow and steep stairs. I can only imagine how hectic, and loud, it would be in here during maneuvers. 

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There's not much space on any naval ship, and other than working, sleeping and eating, there's even less space dedicated to "other." So the small table in this corner probably saw a lot of use. 

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Flip open your bunk and you've got some storage.

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It takes a lot of effort to position a rudder, and that's what this equipment does. 

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One of several huge refrigerators. All modern ships have them, I just can't remember other museum ships bothering to keep them accessible. 

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The Turner Joy's forward 5-inch/54 caliber Mark 42 gun. These could fire 70-pound (32 kg) shells over 14 miles away.

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Post-WWII destroyer

The Turner Joy is a Forrest Sherman-class destroyer, the first class of US warship to have more firepower facing aft rather than forward.

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The Turner Joy's superstructure uses a lot of aluminum to keep the weight down, improving stability. 

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The Pilot House, with a commanding view of the sea ahead. 

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One sailor to steer, one to man the throttles. 

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This is where you locate the bleeps, sweeps and creeps

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Officially called the Chart House, here's where the navigator charts and tracks the ship's course. 

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The Combat Information Center, where all the raw radar, sonar and other data get processed. This area is blocked off and dark, so sorry for the subpar photo. 

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The Commanding Officer's Stateroom. 

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In port

The captain only uses the stateroom while in port. While at sea he has a cabin close to the bridge.  

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Radio room

All the ship's radio receivers are in this room, one of the few only visible through a small window with large bars. 

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The main location for off-duty officers. They also take their meals here, from their own adjacent galley. 

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The Turner Joy had 15 commanding officers over its 23 years of service.

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Sonar control

Moody rigged-for-red lighting bathes the Sonar Control room. The main console in the middle with the round screen is the AN/SQS-23 sonar stack. To its left is a bathythermograph, which records the temperature of the water (vital for accurate sonar analysis). On the right you can see a repeater for the main radar.

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Signal shack

On top of the signal shack is the AN/SPG-53 radar. The cylinder jutting out horizontally, matching one out of sight on the other side, is an optical range finder.

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Spotting station

The Turner Joy, which had been present at the Gulf of Tonkin Incident at the beginning of the Vietnam War, also fired the last naval shot of the conflict. 

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Ready to go

The ship is in such great shape it really feels like all you'd need to do is light the boilers and throw the lines. 

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There's no way to get a good unobstructed view of the ship from Bremerton Boardwalk. I took this photo by  walking along a public sidewalk near some apartment buildings. 

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Sail on

The USS Turner Joy is a great tour, and easy to visit if you're in the Seattle area.

For more details about this historic ship, and this tour, check out Cold War destroyer: Inside the USS Turner Joy.

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