Recently, the DCCC Student History Club, Campus Life, the Public Service and Social Sciences Division, and the Math Division hosted speakers from the Battleship New Jersey. Two members of the Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial, Michael Flynn and Roger Willig, spoke about the battleship’s history and explained how algebra helped win WWII. The DCCC Student History Club was given a chance before the seminar to speak with them and more information about the speakers and the museum.
History Club: What is your job at the Battleship New Jersey?
Michael Flynn: I am the Director of Education at the museum. I have been there for two years. I am in charge of our on-board classes, which students of all ages enjoy, and the school outreach program, which brings the “ship” to the schools in presentations like today.
Roger Willig: I was a battleship tour guide for many years, and now I volunteer for the school outreach program. I was also a Professor of Math at Montgomery County Community College for twenty years.
History Club: Can you give us some interesting facts about the ship’s history?
Michael Flynn: The Battleship New Jersey was the longest battleship ever made. It had the largest guns and it is the most decorated American battleship with nineteen battle stars from WWII and Korea. It was the only battleship used in the Vietnam conflict. In 1991, the Battleship New Jersey was “mothballed” (decommissioned). The Battleship New Jersey was restored and, in 2001, opened as a museum and memorial.
History club: How did algebra help on the battleship?
Roger Willig: Algebra was used to figure out that they needed 660 pounds of gunpowder to fire the two-thousand-pound shells down the sixteen-inch gun barrels. The technology on the Battleship New Jersey was very advanced for its day. The guns on the battleship had sixteen different measurements that had to be taken before they were fired, like wind, humidity, ship speed, and direction. Some of the measurements included use of quadratic formulas.
History Club: Where can we get more information about tours and other events?
Michael Flynn: You can go to our website www.battleshipnewjersey.org to find the museum’s hours and prices. Information about our overnight visits, exciting special events, and how to become a member can be found there as well. The website also offers a detailed history of the Battleship New Jersey.
Interview by Kelly Brennan