As the year 2000 approaches, we look to a more advanced and sophisticated fleet of naval submarines-faster, quieter, with extremely efficient and performance-providing military platforms unlike any submarines of yesteryear. A sure defense for American naval forces both in peace and war.
Prior to the development of stealth aircraft, submarines provided naval warfare of awesome sort. Unseen and able (though with limitations) to approach a target and destroy such, it was the use of submarines that helped gain victory in World War Two.
As more advanced propu]sion systems (nuclear) were developed and ballistic missiles were added, the Submarine Force gained extensive strength and today provides an excellent deterrence force.
With continuing advancements in electronics and computers, the way is being paved for a Submarine Force unlike any considered in the past.
Yet today’s Submarine Force had a quite humble beginning. The boats were slow, shallow diving, and at times difficult to maneuver.
A definite advancement came with the standard fleet of boats. Consisting of three major classes, they all were built with minor differences.
It was during World War ll in the Pacific theater that American subs proved their worth. Over 50 percent of enemy vessels were sunk by American submarines.
Unfortunately, faulty torpedoes were an extreme hindrance. Perhaps if they could have been replaced with functional weapons sooner, the conflict may have ended quicker. Perhaps even the use of the atom bomb may have not been needed.
In our nostalgia, we wish to preserve those things tying us with yesteryear as supporters of and/or members of our Submarine Force. To us, the preservation and presenting of old boats are of significant importance.
Unlike periscopes and/or instrument panels retrieved from old boats placed at random in museum buildings, a retired submarine containing nearly all equipment, as when in service, provides the visitor a genuine feel of Jife aboard. Pictures, written text, even the in-depth testimony of veterans cannot provide the feel and true realization which can be gained when aboard an old boat.
When first seeing the boat’s exterior, one is keenly aware of a definite difference in overall structur~low profile, long slender roundish hull, and little above deck structure.
The very sight of a submarine can stir a passerby’s curiosity.
Once below, the smell of diesel oil and machinery is ever so present-even at times offensive to those not familiar with these extrem~lose quarters and need to step over the high thresholds and literally squeeze through the 2×3 bulkhead openings provides a challenge even for limber folks. Here within the confines of these fighting fish one can realize the hardships of life aboard and hence gain a greater appreciation for those who risked their lives to gain a sure victory over the enemy.
Unlike duty aboard the surface craft, subs proved a world apart from standard life aboard ships. They are confining, windowless, extremely technical, and require full cooperative teamwork among their crews. Once beneath the surface, the danger of going too deep is imminent. Regardless of sophisticated and state-of-the-art equipment, a vessel could become a loss. Once below rated depth a submarine and crew fall victim to the severe forces of pressure.
Many submariners’ final resting place is within the hulk of their boat. They gave their all to serve their beloved homeland. To honor and memorialize such brave souls and workhorse vessels, old boats make most adequate memorials.
Retired old boats, while costly to maintain and needing dedicated persons, both paid staff and volunteers, continue to provide a much-needed service to today’s modern and elite Sub Force.
These aging vessels allow those who served on subs to remember vividly times of victory, struggle, fear, and even old shipmates.
They provide the non-experienced visitor an insight into the history and a deep appreciation for those who served. They also provide an excellent tool to support the modern Submarine Force by making people aware of just how important a strong naval Submarine Force is to our nation. Most of all they provide a sure platform for the continuance of our proud submarine legacy.
There are only about 20 subs on display-about a dozen of which served in World War II. The only nuclear boat on display is USS NAUTILUS (SSN 571). For the other nuclear boats, only parts such as sails or props are on display.
Yet the old boats provide perhaps a more in-depth view of true history and submarine legacy.
As supporters of and/or crews of our proud Submarine Force, it is quite important that these workhorses, once proudly traversing dangerous waters, receive our support. For when those that served aboard are no longer among us it is these old boats that will speak for them best speak to those who serve on today’s mighty ballistic missile boats. Those on the premiere Seawolf-class boats and the children of tomorrow’s sub crews. The Submarine Force legacy lives on, lives on quite strongly within the dank dim confines of old boats.
Being an enthusiast of submarines in general and doing volunteer work aboard USS TORSK (SS 423) I’ve come to deeply · care for her and other old boats and for this purpose the article was written.
USS BUMPER (SS 333) ASSOCIATION November 4-8, 1999 at Holiday Inn, Kingsland, GA. Contact: Edward W. Stone, 308 Merritt A venue, Syracuse, NY 13207-2713.
USS PICUDA (SS 382) October 10-12, 1999 in New London, CT. Contact: Mike Wingeir, 656 Akins Road, Atoka, TN 38004, (901) 837-8610.
USS ROBERT E. LEE (SSB(N) 601) September 24-15, 1999 in Silverdale, WA. Contact: Rick D. Stubbs, P.O. Box 10, Cawker City, KS 67430, (785) 781-4340.
USS SEAFOX (SS 402) November 2-6, 1999. Contact: D. Smith, 6935 Carlisle Court, Apt. C-220, Naples, FL 34109-6883, (941) 596-1686.