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Simeone Automotive Museum gems--like this green Aston Martin--dazzle.
PAUL SULLIVAN/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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IT ISN'T HARD to figure
Spotting that museum is one thing, I found. Getting there is another--but I won't go into that.
Seeing the world's oldest steel-hulled warship, the cruiser USS Olympia, was a high priority on this visit, but there was ever so much more than even that prize.
Olympia and a World War II submarine, the Becuna, share docking space a short walk outside the museum, near the equally impressive and quite large Moshulu, a steel-hulled four-master operating as a restaurant.
We had come for the ships. But before we got to them we spent three hours in the museum itself, an exciting set of displays and exhibits on all things maritime in the city, historic Delaware River and valley of the same name.
There is scarcely space here to delve into that content, but I must mention Home of the Brave: the story of the War of 1812 at sea.
This puts that conflict into focus. I had not realized that, while the land fighting of that war came to little more than a draw, the War of 1812 played out at sea in a number of locations with the new and small United States Navy gaining the upper hand in several. It did so against overwhelming odds since, at that time, the Royal Navy of Great Britain ruled the seas. The war, it has been said, marked the true beginnings of the young United States Navy.
This exhibit will close March 31, 2013.
When we did make it to Olympia and Becuna, our one-price tickets allowed us to board and take an unhurried, self-guided tour, first through the submarine, then up the gangplank of the one-of-a-kind Olympia.
Descending into the submarine through its forward hatch brings a dramatic change, from air-space-light, into the most incredibly compressed space I could imagine. How this vessel's crew of more than 80 men lived in one of these small steel tubes, much less fought and survived, is something only a submariner could explain.