Tuesday, July 22, 2014

SEALAB: Habitats Under the Water

"This Day in History"

July 22, 1964

SEALAB I

On July 22, 1964, SEALAB I submerged with four Navy divers aboard.  SEALAB was an experimental underwater habitat developed by the United States Navy to test the theories of saturated diving and the ability of humans to live and operate at extreme pressures. 

SEALAB I was lowered off the coast of Bermuda to a depth of 192 feet.  It was constructed from two converted floats and held in place with axles from railroad cars.  The four divers were LCDR Robert Thompson, MC; Gunners Mate First Class Lester Anderson, Chief Quartermaster Robert A. Barth, and Chief Hospital Corpsman Sanders Manning. SEALAB I was commanded by Captain George F. Bond, also called "Poppa Topside,” who was key in developing theories about saturation diving. 

Captain Bond and the first aquanauts with SEALAB I in 1964.

The project attempted to evaluate man’s capability for extensive underwater work by carrying out such tasks as: precision bottom charting and mapping; marring biological investigations, structural inspection of the Argus Island tower, and, of equal importance, project SEALAB evaluated the vessel, SEALAB I, so that the engineering data obtained could be used in the design of SEALAB II and, in follow-up experiments scheduled to be carried out subsequently at 300-foot and 600-foot depths.

The mission called for the four divers to stay submerged for three weeks, but the project was stopped only after 11 days due to threat of a tropical storm which posed a danger to the ocean surface support staff.
SEALAB I proved that saturation diving in the open ocean was viable for extended periods. The knowledge gained helped advance the science of deep sea diving and rescue, and contributed to the understanding of the psychological and physiological strains humans can endure.

SEALAB I on display at the Museum of Man in the Sea.

SEALAB I is on display at the Museum of Man in the Sea, in Panama City Beach, Florida, near where it was initially tested offshore before being deployed. It is on outdoor display. Its metal hull is largely intact, though the paint is faded to a brick red.

To learn more about SEALAB I you can visit Naval History Blog. To learn more about life under the sea please visit the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum’s USS Razorback where tour guides explain life underway in a submarine during World War II.

Author: Allison Hiblong

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Port Chicago Disaster

"This Day in History"

July 14, 1944

The Port Chicago Disaster was the largest homeland disaster during World War II.


World War II was in full swing by 1944, and the United States needed to develop an additional munitions facility to help supply the war effort. Port Chicago, north of San Francisco, was created and by the summer of 1944 the port could load two ships at once around the clock – including dangerous cargo. 

Diagram of the Port Chicago loading pier.
These operations were handled mainly by African-American units, many whom were not trained in handling dangerous cargo.

Photograph courtesy of the National Park Service.

On July 17, 1944, the SS Quinault Victory and SS E.A. Bryan were being loaded with 4,600 tons of explosives, including depth charges. In addition, 400 tons of explosives lay nearby on rail cars. Around 10:18 pm, massive explosions destroyed everything in the vicinity, and took the lives of 320 workers who were at or near the pier at the time. The blasts were so extensive, that they were felt as far as away as Nevada and the damage extended up north to San Francisco. Smoke and fire destroyed everything within a two mile radius of Port Chicago.

Remains of the pier.  Photograph courtesy of sf.blueherontours.com.

Of the 320 workers, two-thirds of them were African-American, which contributed to 15% of all African-Americans killed during World War II.  The remaining men were transferred to Mare Island to serve the rest of their enlistment. The Port Chicago disaster stands as a testament to the implementation of safer procedures when handling and loading dangerous cargo, including proper training for individuals handling ammunitions. Though the Port Chicago legacy is tainted with disaster, we can use the example to help further not only regulations and training today, but technology and even civil rights issues.

Photograph courtesy of www.disclose.tv.

USS Razorback was an active war vessel during World War II, capable of holding 24 torpedoes, a Bofors 40 mm and Oerlikon 20 mm cannon and two five-inch 25 caliber deck guns.  Fortunately for the submarine, the crew was well trained in munitions and dangerous cargo. No internal explosions marred the record, but Razorback did carry material that would make civilians question stepping onto the deck.  USS Razorback stands today as an example of daily submarine life and World War II technology and is located at the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum in North Little Rock, Arkansas.

Author: Nicolette Lloyd



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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

CSS Arkansas 23 Days of Service

"This Day in History"

July 15, 1862

CSS Arkansas, a Confederate Ironclad ram, was constructed in Memphis, Tennessee, but was incomplete when Union forces were closing in. She was towed down to Yazoo City, Mississippi, where she was completed, on July 15, 1862. 



Her commanding officer, Lt. Isaac Newton Brown CSN, then took her down the Yazoo River, where Arkansas encountered the U.S. gunboats Carondelet and Tyler and the ram Queen of the West, which she left the Carondelet and Tyler badly damaged.

Going from the Yazoo River to the Mississippi River, Arkansas, fought her way through the assembled Union fleet, and came to rest under the protection of the Confederate fortress at Vicksburg. While there, she was attacked by the Queen of the West and ironclad Essex, but was not badly damaged. While still needing repairs, Arkansas steamed down the Mississippi River to assist Confederate forces in an attack on Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

On August 6, 1862, Arkansas suffered a severe machinery breakdown during an engagement with the Essex. After she drifted ashore, she was burnet to prevent capture.

Author: Lyle Grisham
Completed as a student intern through the University of Arkansas at Little Rock History Department.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Memorable Firsts

"This Day in History"

July 10, 1934


It is not uncommon for a President of the United States to achieve many ‘firsts’ while in office. It is just the nature of the job when you are responsible for the execution of federal law, alongside the responsibility of appointing federal executive, diplomatic, regulatory, and judicial officers, and concluding treaties with foreign powers (Wait! There’s more!). Plus the more active the President, the more chances for Presidential firsts. One of the most active Presidents in our history was Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Roosevelt was the 32nd President of the United States. He served four terms from March 1933 to his death in April 1945. His Presidency dealt with the majority of the Great Depression and World War II. President Roosevelt was the first President to set up the precedent of the first hundred days. He is the only President to serve more than two terms in office (a first and only because it led to the 22nd Amendment, limiting the terms of a President to two.) So it would be logical to assume that his Presidency came across many firsts.

"To reach a port we must set sail. Sail, not tie at anchor.  Sail, not drift." -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

July of 1934 saw three firsts. July 1, 1934, President Roosevelt boarded USS Houston (CA-30), which was a Northampton-class heavy cruiser nicknamed the "Galloping Ghost of the Java Coast" and a personal favorite of Roosevelt. The voyage departed from Annapolis, Maryland, went to the Caribbean, South America, and Hawaii before returning to Portland, Oregon, on August 2, 1934. This month long journey could have been easily accomplished in one day aboard Air Force One today.

USS Houston (CA-30) in Honolulu, Hawaii
The first ‘first’ was July 10, 1934, when Roosevelt became the first United States President to visit South America while in office. Houston docked at Cartagena, Columbia, and entertained President Enrique Olaya Herrara and Mr. Sheldon Whitehouse, United States Minister to Columbia. Afterwards, President Roosevelt went ashore and visited the countryside for a few hours. The President departed Columbia aboard Houston the same day.

President Roosevelt's Schedule on July 10, 1934.
The second ‘first’ was the next day, July 11, 1934, at the Panama Canal. While other Presidents visited the canal, Roosevelt was the first sitting United States President to traverse the canal. Houston began her transit at 10:00am and concluded at 6:00pm. That evening Roosevelt dined with the President of Panama aboard Houston, docked at Balboa, Panama. The cruiser departed the next day.

President Roosevelt in Panama departing USS Houston.
The third ‘first’ was July 24, 1934, when President Roosevelt became the first United States President to visit Hawaii. He visited various locations across the Territory such as Kailua-Kona, Hilo Harbor, Pearl Harbor, and Honolulu. His visit to Hawaii determined the need for greater military presence at the islands because it was America’s primary outpost to the Pacific.

"Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort."  -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

The interesting thing about these ‘firsts’ is that this was done on Roosevelt’s vacation. This was a fishing expedition to Hawaii. What better time than summer to make memorable ‘firsts’. We at the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum want you to make memorable vacation ‘firsts’ as well. If you have not visited us and taken a tour aboard USS Razorback (SS-394), then we recommend you to come and have yourself a memorable ‘first.’

Author: John Jones

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Tuesday, July 01, 2014

United States Navy, 100 Years of an Alcohol Free Navy

"This Day in History"

July 1, 1914

In 1794, Congress established the daily ration of alcohol for the United States Navy to be "one half-pint distilled spirits," "or in lieu thereof, one quart of beer."

Fast forward 120 years to July 1, 1914, and all of that changed.  No longer would alcohol be allowed on United States Navy vessels because of Josephus Daniels and General Order 99.

"On July 1, 1914, Article 827, Naval Instructions, will be annulled and in its stead the following will be substituted: 'The use or introduction for drinking purposes of alcoholic liquors on board any naval vessel, or within any navy yard or station, is strictly prohibited, and commanding officers will be held directly responsible for the enforcement of this order.'" --Josephus Daniels, General Order 99

Josephus Daniels was born in Washington, North Carolina, May 18, 1862.  At the age of 18, Daniels bought out a local newspaper, Advance, in Wilson, North Carolina.  "Daniels used his position at the helm of the Advance to address political issues ranging from trade to temperance," said North Carolina Encyclopedia online.  Daniels promoted Woodrow Wilson for the 1912 presidency.  Wilson was victorious and appointed Daniels as Secretary of the Navy in return for his services.  

Josephus Daniels

Josephus Daniels, was Secretary of the Navy from 1913-1927.  Daniels wasted no time enforcing what he felt strongly about.  On June 1, 1914, Daniels issued General Order 99 and the order took effect on July 1, 1914.  Legend has it that the term "Cup of Joe" began because coffee became the strongest drink a sailor could get issued on a United States Naval vessel.

The United States established the prohibition of alcoholic beverages in the country with the 18th Amendment in 1920.  This amendment was repealed in 1933 with the 21st Amendment to the Constitution.  Interestingly enough General Order 99 has never been reversed.  An order set in motion 100 years ago is still in effect today.  A full list of the rules about alcohol in the United States is available here.

Visitors of the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum often ask about alcohol consumption aboard the submarine USS Razorback (SS-394).  We can officially say that the United States Navy has been "bone dry" since 1914.

Author: Ashley Hopper
Completed as a student internship through the University of Central Arkansas in the History Department.

Friday, June 20, 2014

"Attack By Japan Would Be Made Without Previous Declaration of War"--Admiral Frank Upham

"This Day in History"

June 20, 1934

Admiral Frank Upham started his Naval career serving with the Pacific Squadron after graduating from the United States Naval Academy in 1893.  Commissioned as an Ensign, Upham spent his time in the Far East, eventually working his way up the ranks to Captain.  He commanded the cruisers USS Columbia and USS Pueblo during World War I and earned a Navy Cross.  In 1933, Upham returned to the Far East as a Fleet Admiral, Commander in Chief of the Asiatic Fleet, where he gave his testimony to the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) on the Japanese.

Photograph courtesy of United States Navy.

During Upham's report to the CNO on June 20, 1934, he said that "based on analyses of Japanese radio traffic, any attack by Japan would be made without previous declaration of war or international warning."  This ominous prediction came to reality on December 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked the base on Pearl Harbor and officially brought the United States into World War II.  Admiral Upham passed away before this event, but his words and predictions live on in history.

USS Razorback saw action during the end of World War II, but without the United States declaration and involvement in this war, the submarine may never have been built.  The Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum, where the submarine is based, has a wide historical view on many different wars throughout the history of the United States, but none more awe inspiring than touring an authentic World War II submarine.  Admiral Upham may have tried to war the United States about an impending Japanese threat, but Razorback was able to successfully sail into Japanese waters in 1944 to 1945 and help to defeat this enemy.

Author: Nicolette Lloyd

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

160th Anniversary of Naval Academy Graduation Services

"This Day in History"

June 10, 1884

US Naval Academy Class of 1894

“To develop Midshipmen morally, mentally and physically and to imbue them with the highest ideals of duty, honor and loyalty in order to graduate leaders who are dedicated to a career of naval service and have potential for future development in mind and character to assume the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship and government.” –U.S. Naval Academy Mission

The Naval School was founded in 1845 by Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft in Annapolis, Maryland.  In 1850, the Naval School became the United States Naval Academy.  A new curriculum accompanied the name change, which included 4 years of study at the Academy and summers spent training aboard ships.  Six men completed this new curriculum and received the first formal graduation exercises at the Academy on June 10, 1854.

US Naval Academy in 1853 

USS Arkansas (BB-33) was one of the ships used for the Midshipmen Summer Training Cruises from 1935 to 1938.  The Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum holds a collection about these cruises.  The collection was donated by James Clifford Wilkins from Lamar, Arkansas, who served aboard the battleship during the 1930's.  These cruises on Arkansas included trips on the United States Eastern Seaboard and European excursions.

USS Arkansas newsletter from 1935.

The curriculum style that was created in 1850 is still the basis of the Naval Academy today.  The format does include far more advanced and sophisticated curriculum today.  Two other changes have taken place for graduates in the Academy since 1854.  In 1884, Congress authorized commissioning of Naval Academy graduates as Ensigns, and in 1933, Congress authorized awarding a Bachelor of Science degree to graduates of the Academy.

The school that began with 10 aces and 50 students has grown to 338 acres and a student body size of 4,000.

Author: Allison Hiblong

Friday, June 06, 2014

70th Anniversary of the Largest Amphibious Landing in History

"This Day In History"


June 6, 1944

In the military, the term D-Day is the day that a combat attack or operation is initiated.  The best known D-Day is June 6, 1944, which was the day that the Allied forces invaded Normandy, France.  Many historians look to this day as the turning point of World War II against Nazi Germany.  The invasion of Normandy was a two part operation.  Operation Neptune was the landing operation and Operation Overlord was the invasion of Normandy.

"This operation is not being planned with any alternatives.  This operation is planned as a victory, and that's the way it's going to be.  We're going down there, and we're throwing everything we have into it, and we're going to make it a success."
--General Dwight D. Eisenhower

Operation Neptune had over 6,000 naval vessels that sailed to Normandy, France from Great Britain.  One German officer marveled at the sight of the approaching armada, “It’s impossible …there can’t be that many ships in the world.” USS Arkansas (BB-33) was among the naval vessels that conducted Operation Neptune. 

The preparation for Arkansas’s role in the European invasion began in April of 1944.  On April 18, she set sail for Bangor, Ireland and upon arrival, began training for the shore bombardment role she was to play during the invasion.  On May 19, Arkansas, along with the other battleships in her task force, USS Nevada and USS Texas, were inspected by General Dwight D. Eisenhower and deemed ready for action.

The three ships put to sea for Normandy on June 3, 1944.  In the pre-dawn darkness of June 6th, USS Arkansas took up position and dropped anchor 4,000 yards off Normandy's “Omaha” beach.  She was tasked with supporting the 1st Infantry Division.  At 0530 the surface around battleship Arkansas began erupting with near misses from four 150mm guns located at Longues sur Mer, south and east of Arkansas’s position.  At 0537, Arkansas was bracketed by shellfire from a German battery located at Port-en-Bessin, almost due south of her position.

Crew members of USS Arkansas stand atop one of the battleship's 12 inch gun turrets on June 6, 1944.

At 0552, June 6, 1944, Arkansas’s Captain gave the order to return fire.  For the first time in her career, Arkansas fired her guns in anger.  She, along with British and French warships began firing on the gun battery at Longues sur Mer.  Arkansas destroyed a German radar station and machine gun positions in the area.  She also targeted the battery located at Port-en-Bessin, expending 20 rounds from her main 12 inch batteries and 110 rounds of 5 inch ammunition.  When the battery had been silenced, she shifted her fire to the landing beach, as well as to targets farther inland.  All told, Arkansas would fire some 350, 12 inch shells at German positions during the day of June 6, 1944.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Updates

Museum Updates

I want to apologize for the lack of regular updates to the blog.  We have had a very busy spring here at AIMM and there has not been much time to devote to the blog.  That said, I want to post some updates.

 Happy Birthday, USS Razorback!

Seventy years ago today, April 3, 1944, USS Razorback was commissioned into the U.S. Fleet.  Razorback would go on to complete five war patrols in the western Pacific and earn five Battle Stars for her service.


FREE DAY!!

We will have a free day at the museum on Saturday, April 5, 2014.  All tours will be free of charge from 10:00am to 5:30pm.  Come on out and get a tour of the boat and have some cake...while it lasts!  Please bear in mind the last tour will begin promptly at 5:30pm.


Museum Exhibit Space Opening April 19.

After an extensive remodel of our exhibit spaces, I am pleased to announce we will re-open the museum space on April 19, 2014.  Updated exhibits include:  USS Razorback, USS Hoga, USS Arkansas (CGN-41), and USS Arkansas (BB-33).  Many new and never before artifacts will be on display.
We also have a new permanent exhibit featuring the Arkansas River and the Arkansas River Historical Society.  

If you have any questions regarding the information above, please contact the museum at 501-371-8320 or email to: events@aimm.museum.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Pearl Harbor Remembrance



Photograph from US Naval History and Heritage Command


Today, December 7th, 2013, is the 72nd anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. In that attack, over 2,000 American servicemen and women lost their lives, as did many civilians.

We ask that all our visitors take a moment to remember those men and women, and keep them and their families in your prayers today.



For more information on the Pearl Harbor attack, please visit the U.S. Naval Historical Center Pearl Harbor webpage, which has extensive resources, including:
  • Oral Histories from survivors
  • Photographs
  • Teacher Lesson Plans



One of the many Arkansans at Pearl Harbor was Captain (later Admiral) Charles M. Cooke, Jr of Fort Smith. Captain "Saavy" Cooke was a graduate of both the University of Arkansas and the US Naval Academy (where he graduated second in his class). Although he had served in, and commanded several submarines earlier in his career, at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack, Captain Cooke was Commanding Officer of the battleship USS Pennsylvania (BB 38).

More information about Admiral Cooke is available at the US Naval Historical center website.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Museum Announcements

We at AIMM have some announcements that we would like everyone to know about:
First, severe winter weather has been forecast for the Central Arkansas area this weekend (12/6/2013 - 12/8/2013).  If we do get ANY freezing precipitation, we cannot open, as the deck of the submarine would be too hazardous for visitors.  Please contact us at 501-371-8320 if you have questions.

Second,  we WILL NOT be open for tours on Saturday, December 7, 2013.  This is due to the Jimmy Buffett concert at Verizon Arena.  We have a special event scheduled for that day.  Tickets for the event may be purchased by the public.  See our facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/events/232264660274361/) for more information or telephone us.

Lastly, our museum building will be closed for renovation from this date to approximately March 1, 2014.  The submarine WILL still be open for tours during our regular hours.

Friday, November 29, 2013

USS Archer-Fish sinks IJN Shinano

On November 29, 1944, USS Archer-Fish (SS-311) encountered the partially completed Japanese carrier, IJN Shinano while en-route from Yokosuka Naval Arsenal to Kure Naval Base to complete her fitting out.


Converted from a Yamato class battleship, Shinano was massive. With a length of approximately 870 feet and weighing is at some 65,000 tons, she was larger than her U.S. contemporaries.
  


Archer-Fish detected Shinano at 20:48, November 28, 1944 and began stalking her and her escorts.  At 03:15, Archer-Fish launched a spread of six torpedoes at Shinano.  Four of the six torpedoes impacted on Shinano's starboard side and she took on a 10 degree list within minutes.  By 06:00, the list had increased to 20 degrees, despite the efforts of the damage control parties.  At 10:18, listing 30 degrees, Shinano's commander ordered abandon ship.  At 10:57, the ship finally capsized and sank stern-first at coordinates 32°07′N 137°04′E in approximately 13,000 feet of water.  

She remains the largest warship ever to be sank by a submarine.



Photos from Naval History and Heritage Command

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Hours of Operation

With the time change, AIMM has implemented the following operating schedule:

Monday -  Thursday: CLOSED
Friday -     10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Saturday - 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Sunday -     1:00 PM - 5:00 PM

The last tour of the day will begin at 4:30 PM.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

A Bear on a Battleship?



To most Arkansans, the “Razorback” is synonymous with athletics at the University of Arkansas. This is why it comes as a surprise to most to learn that USS Razorback is not named for the university’s mascot, but for the fin whale, in keeping with the United States Navy tradition of naming submarines after marine animals.
Similarly for sailors aboard USS Arkansas (BB-33) in the 1920s, it was not the razorback they adopted as their mascot, but a black bear by the name of Teddy.

"Teddy," on deck with handler.

Not much is known about how or why Teddy came to be part of the crew of Arkansas, but he was certainly not the first nautical ursine creature in the U.S. Navy. In 1907, the town of Aberdeen, Washington, presented a bear to each of the 16 ships of President Theodore Roosevelt’s newly-designated Great White Fleet. Perhaps it is simply a coincidence that 16 “teddy” bears were donated to “Teddy” Roosevelt’s ships—but perhaps not! In addition to these bears, the battleships of the Great White Fleet acquired cats, parrots, a pig, and even a kangaroo from Sydney, Australia. 
 
"Teddy," posing with the 1920 USS Arkansas Baseball team.

In a photograph collection donated to the museum by Dan Healey of Southaven, Mississippi, Teddy appears both on deck and posing with the ship’s baseball team.   The collection contains over 170 photographs of everyday life aboard Arkansas in the early 1920s.  Look for more features on this collection in the future.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Naval Combat on the Red River - 150 Years Ago Today


On this day in 1863, the Union "tinclad" Gunboat USS Cricket (Tinclad #6), steamed up the Little Red River in pursuit of two Confederate steamboats, Kaskaskia and Tom Sugg.

Cricket captured the two Confederate ships at Searcy Landing (modern day Searcy, Arkansas in White County, north of Little Rock).

Cricket then began escorting the two captured vessels downriver.

When the flotilla reached West Point, Arkansas, Confederate forces made an attempt to not only recapture the two ships, but to also capture the Federal gunboat.  Defensive fire from Cricket damaged houses in the town of West Point.

A second attack on these vessels was attempted about four miles downstream from West Point.  This attack was also unsuccessful.

Cricket met up with the larger Union gunboat USS Lexington, and the small fleet was attacked a third and final time, again unsuccessfully.

Both USS Cricket and USS Lexington would be active in the river campaigns in Arkansas and on other rivers in the surrounding states (known during that period as the "Western Rivers") for the rest of the war.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Another Plaque From a Long-Serving Submarine


USS Sirago (SS-485) was commissioned on this day in 1945.   A Tench-class submarine (basically, an improved Balao-class boat), she was built at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, like Razorback.

Entering service too late to see combat, Sirago spent several years participating in various training exercises before being modernized under the GUPPY program in 1948.

Like Razorback, Sirago initially received a "step sail".  She served in that configuration until 1962 when she had a "North Atlantic" sail installed.  Sirago went on to serve another 10 years.  She was decommissioned in 1972 and was sold for scrapping.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Arkaneers, Highlanders, and Nazis: USS Arkansas’ Practice Cruise, 1935

“Hail Scotland!” read the weekly newsletter of USS Arkansas (BB-33) on June 22, 1935, after casting off from the United States two weeks earlier. The battleship had just arrived in Edinburgh, the first port of call during her 1935 practice cruise throughout Western Europe. The voyage took midshipmen of Arkansas and her sister ship, USS Wyoming (BB-32), from Edinburgh to Oslo, Copenhagen, Gibraltar, and Madeira, a Portuguese island off the coast of North Africa.

Arklite was a four-page periodical published weekly on Arkansas. It featured articles on a variety of subjects including ship news, sports, and American history.

Why was this US vessel sailing around Europe during peacetime? Arkansas frequently served as a training vessel between the First and Second World Wars. This gave new recruits valuable hands-on experience manning and operating a fully functional battleship, even when the nation was not at war. First- and third-classmen from the United States Naval Academy, numbering 410 in total, embarked on the 1935 summer cruise from the beginning of June to the end of August.   

Midshipmen aboard Arkansas and Wyoming had plenty of free time while docked throughout Europe. Tours of town, trips to the beach, sightseeing excursions, and sporting events were all popular activities. The crews of the two battleships were particularly competitive when given the chance. The “Arkaneers” would play baseball against Wyoming if they could find a suitable baseball diamond, and the two crews held boxing matches with the locals in Edinburgh and Copenhagen. A lieutenant aboard Arkansas even organized a pistol team to challenge the Scottish Gordon Highlanders to a shooting match.

Aside from the scheduled ports of call, crewmembers also had the chance to take tours elsewhere in Europe. While en route to Copenhagen, Arkansas’ weekly periodical Arklite encouraged the crew to “take advantage of the Berlin tour,” calling it “an unusual opportunity.” Indeed, a leisurely trip to Hitler’s Nazi Germany was quite the unusual opportunity: On July 15, during the crew’s excursion, a series of anti-Jewish riots broke out in Berlin. In the course of the riots, E. W. Wood, a midshipman aboard Wyoming visiting Berlin, witnessed a man attack two Jewish women. Wood intervened in defense of the women, and a fistfight ensued only to be broken up by the police. Aside from this, Arkansas prided itself on the relatively low number of reported onshore incidents involving crewmembers.

From Central Europe the battleships veered southward, docking in Gibraltar and Madeira. In late August, after nearly two months abroad, Arkansas returned to Annapolis, Maryland, thus concluding the 1935 practice cruise.

The information in this post was made available by a donation from James Clifford Wilkins in the late spring of 2012. The collection includes thirteen complete issues of Arklite and various photo souvenirs from the summer cruises of 1935 and 1936. An Arkansas native, Wilkins was born in Lamar, AR, in October of 1912. He started his naval service aboard Arkansas in 1934, and fought during World War II. Wilkins passed away on June 11, 2012. He was 99 years old.
James C. Wilkins, CM 3/C, aboard Arkansas, circa 1935.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Independence Day Hours

AIMM will be open Thursday, July 4, 2013 for tours; however, we will close at 4:30 PM for an evening event sponsored by Women's Action for New Direction (WAND).  

WAND is hosting the Fourth of July Celebration at the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum on Thursday July 4th. The gates will be opened at 6:30, a silent auction starts at 7:00, and the picnic dinner starts at 7:30. Throughout the evening music will be provided by Sad Daddy featuring Joe Sundell. The main event will be the fireworks at sunset which will be viewed from the deck of USS Razorback.  Tickets are $25 per person.  
For more information or to reserve your spot please contact the museum at 501-371-8320 or at events@aimm.museum.

Monday, June 24, 2013



149 years ago today, on June 24th, 1864, Confederate artillery and cavalry forces captured USS Queen City, a converted "tinclad" river gunboat, while she was off Clarendon, Arkansas on the White River.

The gunboat had originally been built as a commercial ferry, but was acquired by the Navy soon after she was built.  The Navy converted her to a gunboat and commissioned her on April 1st, 1863.  Her armament varied during her career.  Originally armed with six guns, by October 1863, she carried nine - two 30-pound Parrott rifles (probably the two guns visible forward), two 32-pound smoothbore cannon, four 24-pound howitzers and a 12-pound gun.

She was intentionally destroyed by Confederate forces on the same day she was captured, when another Federal gunboat, USS Tyler, approached in an effort to recapture the ship.



Photographs courtesy of the Naval History and Heritage Command, Washington, DC.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Delayed Opening

Due to a community event that will force several local road closures, AIMM will open at 2:30 PM on Sunday, June 23, 2013.  We will resume our normal summer hours on Wednesday, June 26.  We apologize for any inconvenience.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Behind the Scenes - Building an Exhibit


There is A LOT of work that goes into a new exhibit.

This picture shows Assistant Curator and Education Director Allison Hiblong working on the "Captain's Cabin" exhibit.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

USS Arkansas (BB-33) Participates in Presidential Review


On this day in 1927, the battleship USS Arkansas (BB-33) participated in a Presidential Naval Review off Cape Henry, Virginia.  President Calvin Coolidge, aboard the Presidential Yacht Mayflower, watched as 98 different vessels steamed past.

Arkansas had only just completed an extensive modernization at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard and was preparing to return to active service.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

AIMM Closed Today Due to Weather

AIMM will be closed today, June 1st, due to the severe weather in the area.

We apologize for any inconvinience.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

USS Razorback Aground This Day in 1944

On May 23, 1944, USS Razorback departed from the Submarine Base in New London, CT, in order to conduct surfaced night gunnery training with her 4" - 50-caliber main deck gun as well as with her smaller guns.  In total, Razorback's crew fired 15 rounds from her 4" gun, 240 rounds from her 20mm guns, 120 rounds of .45 caliber pistol ammunition and 600 rounds of .30 caliber ammunition.

During the attempted transit back to the submarine base, Razorback ran aground on Fisher's Island in Block Island Sound near Race Rock Light, one of the most well known navigational lights in the area.

On the morning of May 24th, 1944, a number of vessels were on the scene to assist Razorback, including USS Nawat (YNT-23) (a Yard Net Tender), USS Falcon (ASR-2) and USS Catclaw (AN-60).  All torpedoes were unloaded from the forward torpedo room, undoubtedly a difficult process.  In addition, Razorback's deck log mentions unloading ammunition from the forward torpedo room as well.


Razorback was refloated at high tide, at 1342 on May 24th.  She then returned to the Submarine Base in New London, CT.


This video was located in the National Archives in College Park, MD and shows Razorback aground.




A Board of Inquiry was held, and LCDR Bontier, Razorback's Commanding Officer was relieved of duty on June 5th, 1944.  The Officer of the Deck at the time of the grounding, LT(jg) Alvin Hersh was given a letter of reprimand.  He would remain aboard Razorback and would receive the Silver Star for his actions as Assistant Approach Officer.  The citation reads (in part) -
"his aggressive spirit and proficiency contributed immeasurably in sinking 20,000 tons of enemy shipping and damaging an additional 5,000 tons."
AIMM has a number of photographs of Razorback while she was aground. Some of these photographs were likely taken from USS Falcon (ASR-2), but no identifying information is known for certain.