NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) — The city of Norfolk and the Nauticus Foundation launched a brand new Ship Experience Access Room (SEAR) aboard the Battleship Wisconsin.

The new room opened Friday, following a ribbon-cutting ceremony. SEAR was developed for visitors that want to experience the Battleship Wisconsin, but are unable to physically take the tour.

The SEAR was built in the former Administrative Office of Wisconsin, it creates a virtual tour of the ship through the use of video surveillance equipment.

The room is designed to mimic a control center, and the room is equipped with four, high-resolution monitors with individual access to IPConfigure’s video surveillance management software, Orchid Fusion.

Visitors are able to sit at a station and create their own tour of the Wisconsin as they navigate through the software.

Clayton Allen is the battleship operations manager. He shows hundreds of people around the retired warship every day, but he's most excited to show veterans the new, or former views they use to see every day.

“Now they see their loved ones in places they were at, and otherwise couldn’t get down there,” said Allen.

“With 20 cameras online, IPConfigure has opened up almost 10,000 square feet of space to about 20 percent of visitors that simply can’t navigate ladder stairs down three decks and back up,” said Allen.

A soft opening of the new exhibit was held during the Battleship Wisconsin reunion in September 2018.

“It is wonderful to be able to bring all generations on board to view the working and living spaces of a Navy sailor,” said Dustin Uhl, senior exhibit manager of the Nauticus Foundation.

Chris Goodland also helped mark this as a historic day. Dec. 7 is the anniversary of Pearl Harbor and the anniversaries of launching the battleship.

Goodland's great-great grandfather's wife was part of that, and he made a petition for the governor of Wisconsin to mark the day as "USS (BB-64) Wisconsin Day."

To him, all of this work is to recognize those who serve and help them share those memories on this ship again.

“Handicap people should be able to get on the ship as well. Especially former sailors who have been here before and may not have the mobility they use to have,” Goodland said.

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