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History rarely comes alive. For most of us, it was a subject in a boring school day, sandwiched between recess and algebra. It didn’t matter much to us as kids – and in this day and age, history often takes a back seat to what is happening now.

But at the USS Midway Museum, a floating piece of Americana in San Diego Bay, history is something real. You can touch the hull, smell the sea air and feel the history of the ship’s 50 years at sea.
Sometimes, history needs a helping hand to keep the memory thriving. Some of the electrical on the ship is original – some of it is outdated. And the million plus visitors a year are increasingly putting more of a strain on those electrical systems.

Enter the NECA-IBEW team.

Their work on the USS Midway Museum is ensuring the past lives on, and that generations of Americans never forget the sacrifice that countless men and women have made in defense of the greatest country in the world.
The USS Midway was in service from 1945 to 2003. The ship and her crew saw action in Korea, Vietnam and the first Iraq war. In 2003, he ship was transformed to a wildly popular tourist attraction and museum, hosting groups of all sizes both during the day and at night.

Over the past 10 years, exhibits and attractions have changed. So too have the ship’s power needs. As such, a series of improvements is underway to get this piece of history into the 21st century.

Charles Gordon, director of facilities, USS Midway Museum
“Because we’re opening a new theater on board, it’s going to require us to expand our power capabilities for the theater. Also, we’re building a new HVAC system that is also going to require more power. We looked at expansion electrically, and we had to go out and find a company that had our sensitivities in mind and we ended up choosing Southern. And it’s been working out great so far.”

Joe Teti, project manager, Southern Contracting
“The Midway has over 250 events a year. They have not been able to charge for the power that’s been used for these events. We separated the ship power and installed brand new entertainment power. They will then be able to charge their customers whatever KWH they used per event and that’s what the intent is for this.”

As for the details of the refurbishment, the NECA-IBEW team brought their own set of solutions for the for the USS Midway owners and operators. It included providing additional power through cabling, replacing the interface between the city power and the ship, and installing new switchgear – all custom work, of course.

Joe Teti, project manager, Southern Contracting
“The biggest challenge for us was the ship to shore cable. As you can see the cables go from the pier to the ship. That cable weighs 10 pounds per foot. So when it’s hanging in the air, and it’s heavy, you have to be right on with what you’re doing – you don’t want it to drop in the water, obviously. So there was a lot of pre-thought on this.”

Charles Gordon, director of facilities, USS Midway Museum
“The challenges are many, and again, that’s why we chose Southern. Because working on board a ship is unlike working in a typical building. So there are unique challenges involved with getting through bulkheads on this vintage WWII vessel. You could have areas of up to two inches of steel. We have to find a way to get through that. So we have to come up with some pretty ingenious processes to run our cable and ducting in those areas and maintain the aesthetic beauty of the ship itself.”

The superior training of NECA and the IBEW has ensured this job has gone off without a hitch.

For the men and women who are working on this project, the USS Midway stands as an example of the ingenuity of the American spirit – the exceptional work they perform is no less than the ship and her former crew members deserve.

Charles Gordon, director of facilities, USS Midway Museum
“We need a vehicle that’s going to express and show the general public what we stand for in America. So this is a special job, it’s a great communicating that with our local guests here and our guests throughout the world. The Southern crew has bent over backwards for us. I’m going to keep them.”

The USS Midway is home to more than 29 restored. The systems for its tourist mission are nearly as complex as those it had when it was at sea.

And the NECA-IBEW team is honored to call it just another one of our electrician’s offices around the country.