From our collection, we present two group photos standing at attention in front of a large wooden battleship at Naval Operating Base Hampton Roads (now Naval Station Norfolk). The first photo (above) is a company of electrician's mate sailors who just graduated from the base's electrician school. The second photo (below) shows the band from a Washington, D.C.-based Boy Scouts of America troop. Not much is known about the band's visit to the base and any assistance would be greatly appreciated.
In the early part of the 1900s, the Navy had to keep up with the rapidly changing field of wireless communications and electronics. To meet the demand, it established several electrican schools across the country. The school at NOB Hampton Roads took its education program a few steps farther to provide true hands-on training. It built a first of its kind simulator: a 3/4-scale model of a Pennsylvania-class battleship out of wood with all the bells and whistles of a real battleship (except for the ordnance!). Christened USS Electrician, the land-locked warship became a popular backdrop for pictures.
Naval Station Norfolk's electrician school is still operating today in the same building that it operated out of at the time of these two photos (near McClure Field). Additionally, the Navy continues to use mock warships to provide real world training in critical areas such as damage control and engineering. One well-known simulator is USS Buttercup.