Bricks and Mortar construction of the Naval Undersea Museum on the grounds of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division, Keyport, Washington, is essentially complete, and acquisition and design for some 18 exhibit areas has begun.
The second of these exhibits is due to open in July, 1993. The Secretary of the Navy has stated that the NUM will be the only one of its kind in the nation and wi11 house artifacts related to all aspects of undersea exploration and utilization, including commercial and military applications. Thanks to a library and 450 seat state-of-the-art auditorium, the NUM will be more than a collection site for relics, rather, it will serve as a national repository for undersea technological advances and will eventually be a valuable resource for professionals in the field, researchers and scientists, undergraduate and graduate collegiate institutions, and even elementary through high school classes.
From March 1 to 14, the recently completed Jack Murdock Auditorium was the scene of Project Jason. This nationally publicized undersea program is sponsored by the Jason Founda-tion. The project permits students to interact with scientists in real time on a variety of undersea research projects including controlling remote cameras at the research site. This project was sponsored in conjunction with the Naval Undersea Warfare Center at Keyport, WA and the Jason Foundation of which Dr. Ballard of Woods Hole Institute is the Chairman. Over 8,000 students participated.
Visitors are currently getting “a little taste of what the museum will be like (through the Preview Center). We are building anticipation in people,” says Ron Roehmholdt, the NUM’s exhibit director. The Preview Center houses exhibits detailing the development of undersea technology and explora-tion. In addition, visitors can sneak a peek at a Japanese manned to1pedo, undersea remote controlled vehicles and a half-scale mock up of a DSRV – deep submergence rescue vehicle – used in the film The Hunt for Red October. All of these items, as well as mines and other undersea vehicles, appear suspended in the darkness shrouding the museum’s future main exhibit hall. The darkness, combined with the sounds of whales and sonar piped into the viewing area give visitors a real feel of the undersea world. In addition, NUM spaces have been constructed to recreate an underwater grotto, the superstructure of a Navy ship and an ocean pier with authentic wooden pilings. The first major exhibit of the NUM, Legends of the Sea and History of the Navy and the Sea, is also part of the Preview Center. Another is the Naval Archaeology Exhibit of the Civil War engagement between the USS KEARSARGE and the CSS ALABAMA which will be on temporary loan to the NUM. Other temporary exhibits are also in the planning stage.
Some 18 exhibit areas are being designed and built around some remarkable artifacts. The NUM obtained the deep submergence vehicle TRIESTE II, a deep sea exploration and research craft, displayed outdoors on the NUM grounds. The MAKAKAI, a manned submersible built by the Navy to study the use of new materials and devices underwater will also be displayed. More recently, parts of the WW II fleet submarine SAILFISH are being acquired, including the periscope.
Currently, the Naval Undersea Museum Foundation has been attempting to piece together the role of Professor Einstein in solving World War II torpedo problems. The artifacts currently on-hand will be built into exhibits such as Nautical Archaeology, Commercial Applications of the U ndersca World, History of Undersea Exploration, ASW Story, Saga of Subma-rines, Mines and Torpedoes, Naval Undersea History and Development of Undersea Technology. In July, 1993, the NUM plans to open its second major exhibit, the Ocean Environment.
The Naval Undersea Museum is located on Olympic Peninsula, approximately 10 miles north of Bremerton, between Silverdale and Poulsbo, in Keyport, Washington. Ferries from Seattle via Bremerton or Bainbridge Island connect with State Highway 3 and State Route 308 leading to Keyport and the NUM. The NUM is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is free. For more information, call (206) 396-4148.
The NUMF invites individuals and companies who have artifacts, documents, photographs, books and other appropriate undersea memorabilia to donate them and invites interested parties to become part of this exciting undertaking by becoming a sustaining member of NUMF. For more information, contact the Naval Undersea Museum Foundation, P.O. Box 408, Keyport, WA 98345.()408, or phone (206) 697-1129.