Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum at North Little Rock
Welcome to the blog for the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum, home of the historic submarine USS Razorback (SS 394).
Monday, May 13, 2013
Monday, May 06, 2013
Hey, are you qualified to operate that Radio?
This time of year, AIMM gets lots of visitors. The turtles are starting to come back, as are the catfish. Several species of geese have stopped by on their migrations north over the years, and the mudbanks are always popular with local songbirds as they build nests.
And, occasionally, one of our non-human guests decides to try out a piece of equipment...
Sunday, April 14, 2013
#1 Main Diesel Engine Started
The hardworking members of the Razorback Crewmembers Association have succeeded in doing what only a few other submarine museums have done - start one of the engines.
The #1 main diesel engine aboard Razorback was started briefly on April 11th, and then run again on the morning of April 12th, and again that afternoon.
Here are some videos, which are also accessible through our Facebook page:
A video from the afternoon test.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
USS Thresher Lost 50 Years Ago Today
On this day, fifty years ago, USS Thresher (SSN-593), was lost while on post-overhaul trials off Cape Cod, MA.
All 129 men aboard her, including her officers, crew and civilian technicians, lost their lives.
AIMM has a copy of a "Welcome Aboard" booklet from Thresher, published just before she was lost, which is available for download.
Wednesday, April 03, 2013
Delayed Opening - Saturday, April 6th
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
In Memoriam - USS H-1 (SS-28) - Lost 12 March 1920
USS H-1 (SS-28), originally named USS Seawolf, was an early U.S. Navy submarine, built by the Union Iron Works in San Francisco, CA and commissioned in 1913. She was one of the first submarines built on the West Coast.
She operated on the West Cost during most of her career. However, in 1920, she traveled to the East Coast via the Panama Canal in early 1920. While on the East Coast, the submarine visited Norfolk, VA, Key West, FL and Havana, Cuba.
During the return trip, H-1 ran aground off Santa Margarita Island, an island off the southwest coast of Baja California.
Four men, including the Commanding Officer died trying to reach shore. The repair ship USS Vestal (AR-4) was able to free the submarine from the rocks four days later, but the submarine sank a short time after being freed.
The hulk was never salvaged and its exact location was lost for many years. The hulk was finally relocated in 1992. It has occasionally been used as a training target by the U.S. Navy. It is also a destination for recreational divers.
Photograph courtesy of the U.S. Naval Historical Center, Washington, DC.
Saturday, March 09, 2013
WWII Diary - Part Two - First War Patrol
"25 August 1944 - 1st War Patrol
"Loaded with torpedoes, ammunition and chow we left Pearl for Saipan on our first war patrol. That was the day we were really getting to work now. This voyage was also quite long - 13 days. Running mostly on the surface with the exception of being forced down a couple of times by unidentified planes.
"This trip was not too exciting, and about seven days out of Pearl we made a rendezvous with USS Cavalla (SS-244) and USS Piranha (SS-389), the three of us making a wolf pack called the "DOGS". From there we proceeded to Saipan and at noon on September 7 we tied up alongside the submarine tender USS Holland (AS-3), anchored in Tanapag Harbor, Saipan, about a quarter mile offshore where she had been since the invasion by the U.S. forces.
"We only stayed here one day, just long enough to fuel and get some needed supplies and a camouflage job on the boat. We departed Saipan on September 8th for patrol north of the Palau Islands. After a few days here we were ordered to a new patrol area northwest of the Philippines between there and Tokyo. We patrolled this area for several days and on September 25th we were ordered to patrol off Formosa in the Luzon Straits. We have been forced down several times by enemy aircraft. One heavy bomber on the 25th attacked and strafed us. Thank God he had no bombs and wasn't a very good shot with his guns. We we're long getting to 200 feet after we spotted this baby coming out of the sun with his guns blazing at us.
" Tonight we are leaving station and going to head for Midway for refit and a rest period. We have been forced down five out of the last six nights. We were strafed once and bombed with two bombs from an enemy medium bomber. We are leaving station now, that is we were until this "Betty" came over and forced us down with two aerial depth charges which again missed their mark.
" 13 October
"We are still on our way home and are running out of fuel, and there aren't any gas stations handy.
"20 October, 1944
"At 7:00 this morning we made our rendezvous with our plane escort taking us to Midway...
"At 1300 we left the boat to go up to Gonneyville, the rest camp...
Tuesday, March 05, 2013
New Photographs Added to Website
Former Razorback crew member Gary Thrall visited the museum and was kind enough to loan us his personal photo album.
The album, which contained nearly 250 photographs taken during the 1960-1962 period included many views of Razorback, such as the one above.
The entire collection is available on the AIMM website.
Thursday, February 28, 2013
WWII Diary - Part One - Training
"8 June 1944 - Yeoman Aucoin and I were transferred from the USS O-4 to the USS Razorback under the command of Roy Benson, CDR, USN. The executive officer is C. Donald Brown, LCDR, USN, our former skipper on the O-4."
"26 June 1944 - After some operations out of New London we loaded our stores and torpedoes and departed New London for Key West, Florida. This first trip sure seemed a long time especially while I was feeding the fish for a couple of days after we left..."
"31 June - After a six day journey, we arrived at Key West, Florida...I can't say much for the liberty at Key West. There wasn't much to do, yet it expired too early...The last two liberties we spent at the Havana Madrid Patio where the main attraction was the fan dancer, Sally Rand. I also can't say much for this show due to the facts that Sally's fans were too large and too well controlled. Otherwise OK."
" 04 August - We arrived at Pearl for a training period of 15 days and a voyage overhaul...I really had a workout while we had the training period on the JP sound gear. It seemed like we were at battle stations all day and sometimes all day and all night, and all the next day. Don't think we weren't glad when that was over and we started to load up for our first war patrol"
Sunday, February 24, 2013
Submarine History - USS TRITON (SSRN-586) Completes First Submerged Circumnavigation
Triton followed the same track sailed by the famed explorer Ferdinand Magellan during his voyage in 1519:
Thursday, February 21, 2013
WWII Razorback Diary
George Atkinson (pictured above) was a Radioman aboard Razorback during World War II. While not a plankowner (he was assigned to Razorback on June 8th, 1944, after CDR Benson assumed command), he made all five war patrols.
During WWII, George kept a diary, which he later typed up and sent to his former shipmates. Here is what George wrote years later:
"I know it was not legal to keep such a record because of the danger to the crew if it were to fall into the hands of the Japanese...However, being a member of the radio gang and being privileged to secret documents and communications gear, I felt (rightly or wrongly) that my little black book would be destroyed along with the coding machine, the strip ciphers and other secret material. I do apologize if I ever put your lives in jeopardy."
We will publish excerpts from George's diary over the coming days, and will make the full text of the diary available on the AIMM website.
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
TV Show Visits AIMM
Sunday, February 03, 2013
From the AIMM Archives
While scanning material in the AIMM archives, this interesting quote from Herman Melville's classic, "Moby Dick", was spotted....
"Of this whale little is known but his name. I have seen him at a distance off Cape Horn. Of a retiring nature, he eludes both hunters and philosophers. Though no coward, he has never yet shown any part of him but his back, which rises in a long, sharp ridge. Let him go. I know little more of him nor does anybody else."
Thursday, January 24, 2013
USS S-26 (SS-131) Lost This Day in 1942
S-26 was built by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation at their shipyard in Quincy, MA. Commissioned in 1923, she, along with her sisters of the same "S" class, were the workhorses of the American submarine force in the 1920s and 1930s.
After the Pearl Harbor attack, the Navy decided to press as many submarines into service as possible. Even the "S" class boats, by then near 20 years old and lacking the speed and range of more modern submarines, could be used to patrol areas like the Aleutian Islands, the Philippines, the East Indies and the approaches to the Panama Canal, where their limited performance could be offset by greater numbers, at least until newer submarines could be built.
S-26 was assigned to patrol the Atlantic Ocean approaches to the Panama Canal. On January 24th, the submarine chaser USS Sturdy (PC-460) was assigned to escort four submarines out to their patrol areas. At 2210, Sturdy sent the message that, having reached the patrol zone, she was leaving the formation, and that the submarines should begin their assignments.
S-26 did not receive the message.
Since wartime rules were in effect, both S-26 and Sturdy were traveling under blackout conditions. Neither the small submarine nor the small patrol boat saw each other in the darkness, and at 2223, USSS turdy struck S-26.
The submarine sank almost immediately. The only survivors were the men on the bridge at the time of the collision - the Commanding Officer, the Executive Officer, and an enlisted lookout.
Salvage operations were begun immediately, and divers were able to reach the sunken submarine. However, they found no indications that anyone survived the initial sinking. 46 men were lost. S-26 was never raised.
Saturday, January 19, 2013
New Photographs of Razorback from 1947
Recently, a Razorback veteran, Rodger Whitman, visited AIMM.
He served aboard Razorback in 1947. Razorback was his qualification boat, and Mr. Whitman left the Navy before serving on any other submarines.
He gave us digital copies of photographs that he had taken while aboard Razorback. We know that Razorback was in drydock at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, on Marine Railway #2 from January 16th until January 28th, 1947.
Most of Mr. Whitman's pictures are from that time.
The entire set of photographs is available on the AIMM Website.
Thursday, January 17, 2013
U.S. Navy Training In Quindao, China in 1948
To put Razorback's 1948 visit to Quindao in context, and to show the importance of the work that Razorback and the other vessels were trying to do, we thought we would share some photographs from the National Archives in College Park, Maryland that were taken in Quindao during this same time period.
After WWII ended, the United States attempted to support the Chinese Nationalist Party in their civil war against the Chinese Communist Party. The U.S. Navy, in particular, provided surplus vessels, and then provided the technical training that the Chinese crewmen would need to keep the ships running. The American effort was spearheaded during this period by Admiral Charles Cooke, a submariner who had been strategist for the U.S. Navy during World War II (he was also a native Arkansan).
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Razorback Visits China in 1948
In late October, 1947, Razorback left San Francisco for what would be recorded as "Simulated War Patrol Number Two", a deployment that modern sailors would recognize as a WESTPAC. Among the ports Razorback visited was Quindao, China (also known as Tsingtao).
Razorback arrived there on this day in 1948.
At the time, the United States was supporting the Chinese Nationalist Party in its civil war against the Chinese Communist Party. Major training bases for both officers and enlisted personnel in the Chinese Nationalist Navy were in operation in Quindao during this time.
Razorback would remain in Qindao for three weeks, conducting training with various U.S. Navy destroyers during this period. The deck logs show that Razorback sailors had ample opportunities for liberty on the weekends.
This silk embroidery was created for former Razorback crew member and museum supporter Gene Haley during this time. Gene had it framed and donated it to AIMM. It is on display in the museum.
Monday, January 07, 2013
USS Perch (SS-313) Commissioned This Day in 1944
This plaque was recently donated to AIMM, and the story behind this little known submarine is (at least to us) an interesting one, and one that we thought should be shared.
USS Perch (SS-313) was commissioned on this day in 1944. Like Razorback, Perch was a Balao-class submarine. Unlike Razorback, she was built at the Electric Boat Company shipyard in Groton, CT.
Perch conducted seven war patrols during World War II, earning four battle stars.
Like Razorback, Perch remained in the Navy after the war, and this is where Perch's story becomes interesting (and complicated).
Shortly after WWII ended, Perch was decommissioned and placed in reserve status.
There were, of course, incredible technological advances in the postwar period, and there were many theories about the roles that submarines would play in the Navy. One thought was that submarines could carry troops, especially Marines or special operations forces. Perch was selected as one of the submarines to test these theories.
Perch was outfitted with a pressure-proof chamber large enough to carry a small helicopter or a small armored amphibious vehicle and designated as an SSP - Submarine Transport, then as an ASSP - Transport Submarine. Both of her torpedo rooms were turned into berthing spaces for the embarked troops. After these changes were made, Perch was able to carry over 100 marines or other special forces personnel, 85 tons of their equipment, a landing vehicle AND a jeep and eight 10-man rubber rafts.
A hatch connected the pressure-proof hanger to the submarine, and all the equipment could be accessed and maintained while at sea.
During the Korean War, Perch actually landed a small force of British commandos in an successful attack on a Korean train tunnel.
After the Korean War ended, Perch continued in her role, but was classified as an APSS - Submarine Transport. In 1960, Perch was decommissioned, but she was returned to active service in 1961 and began training with the U.S. Marine Corps and other special operations forces. Perch landed troops multiple times during the Vietnam War.
In 1967, Perch began the final phase of her career, when she became a Naval Reserve training submarine. Her classification was changed to LPSS - Submarine Transport. Then in 1971, she was re-designated as IXSS - Unclassified Miscellaneous Submarine and on 1 December 1971, Perch was finally decommissioned and sold for scrapping.
Perch almost certainly holds the record for the most number of different classifications (six):
Monday, December 31, 2012
Celebrating New Years Eve at Sea
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
New Oral History Available
One of the vessels sunk during the Pearl Harbor attack was the minelayer USS Oglala (CM-4).
One of Oglala's crewmen was Gail Jones, a native of Central Arkansas. He was kind enough to sit down and retell his story recently. His oral history interview is available on the AIMM Website, along with the oral history interviews of a number of former Razorback crewmen.
Mr. Jone's ship, Oglala was moored alongside the light cruiser USS Helena (CL-50) on the morning of the attack. A Japanese plane attacked Helena with a single torpedo that passed under the minelayer and struck it's target. However, the warhead was so large that the explosion also damaged Oglala.
Because she was an older warship (her keel was laid in 1904), Oglala did not have the same standards of watertight integrity that other, more modern ships had. When it became clear that she was going to sink, Oglala was moved to an empty spot so she would not block other ships, or damage them as she rolled over.
After the attack, Oglala was righted and repaired. She was converted to a repair ship and returned to service in 1943. Decommissioned after the war, she served as a depot ship for the National Defense Reserve Fleet until 1965, when she was finally sold for scrapping.
Monday, December 17, 2012
New Artifact in the Museum
Saturday, December 08, 2012
The Effects of Prolonged Submergence
This is what a submarine's hull looks like after being submerged for 43 days straight. Razorback is in Yokosuka, Japan in November, 1968.
USS Salmon (SS-573) is alongside.
The deck logs from this period are available on the AIMM website, if you want to see first hand what was going on.
This photograph is courtesy of William Zwicker, who was a Machinist's Mate aboard Razorback in the late 1960s. He loaned his personal scrapbook to the museum so that we could scan the photographs.
The entire scrapbook is also on our website.
Thursday, December 06, 2012
Free Tours (and Hot Dogs) on the 71st Anniversary of the Pearl Harbor Attack
Friday, November 30, 2012
Captain Joe Talbert on Eternal Patrol
It is with a heavy heart that AIMM must announce the passing of Captain Joseph Truitt Talbert, Jr., USN (ret).
Captain Talbert was the last commanding officer of USS Razorback. He commanded Razorback from December 19th, 1969, until she was decommissioned from the U.S. Navy on November 30th, 1970.
Captain Talbert qualified in submarines aboard USS Redfish (SS-395), one of the submarines that had been built alongside Razorback at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Captain Talbert also served aboard USS Salmon, USS Theodore Roosevelt, USS Carbonero USS Ulyssess S. Grant, and USS Sterlet.
Captain Talbert passed away at his home in Coronado, California with Emily, his wife of many years, at his side. She noted that he had been in the hospital, battling pneumonia, but had just returned home - "He knew he was here and was happy."
We will post information as arrangements are know.
Thursday, November 29, 2012
Hoga In Drydock
Hoga is now in drydock at ADR. Her lower hull has been hydroblasted and is being ultrasonically tested to determine exactly which parts do (and, just as importantly which parts DON'T) need repair.
No work has yet started, but we are looking forward to having all necessary work done in the near future.
As we know more, we will keep everyone appraised.
Friday, November 23, 2012
In Memoriam - USS Capelin (SS-289) - Sunk 23 November 1943
After being out 17 days on her first war patrol, she returned to the U.S. submarine base in Darwin, Austrailia with a defective conning tower hatch mechanism, too-loud bow planes, and a malfunctioning radar tube. After these flaws were corrected, she left for her second patrol on 19 November.
Postwar records revealed that on 23 November, 1943, an American submarine was attacked off Halamaera, a heavily fortified island in Capelin's patrol area. Enemy minefields are known to have been placed along the Celebes coastline, and it is suspected that Capelin was lost to a mine explosion.
National Archives photograph 80-G-468104
Sunday, November 18, 2012
In Memoriam - USS Sculpin (SS-191) - Sunk 19 November 1943
In a strange twist of fate, Sailfish — at the time named Squalus — had herself been rescued by Sculpin in 1939.
The remaining Sculpin suvivors were forced to work as slave labor in the Ashio copper mines for the rest of the war and were liberated by the Allies after VJ Day.
Monday, November 12, 2012
New Artifact Donated to the Museum
Submarine veteran Reggie McCarver of Park Hills, Missouri recently visited Razorback. He served aboard USS Sirago (SS-485) and USS Pomodon (SS-486). After his visit, he sent several artifacts to us.
Among these artifacts was this clock, known as a "Rig for Red" clock. Unfortunately, Mr. McCarver didn't have any documentation or technical manuals to go along with it.
The clock also didn't work when it was received. However, it didn't take long for our electrician, Joe Mathis, ETC(SS) USN (ret) to restore it to full functionality! We have not yet decided where to install the clock aboard Razorback, but it will probably be displayed in the Conning Tower.
If you have any sea stories related to a clock like this, please pass them on.
Tuesday, October 09, 2012
Razorback Then and Now
And here is Stan, aboard Razorback again...
Thursday, August 02, 2012
USS Hoga at the Shipyard for Repairs
USS Hoga (YT-146) was moved out of the National Defense Reserve Fleet anchorage in Suisan Bay, California and towed to the Allied Defense Recycling (ADR) shipyard in Vallejo, California. ADR was opened at the site of the old Mare Island Naval Shipyard and specializes in environmentally sound ship repair, conversion and overhaul.
These two pictures were taken from across the channel. Hoga can probably be seen from locations along Mare Island Way between the Vallejo Yacht Club and the ferry landing.