Friday, April 10, 2015

A Ron Sagaert Story

"A Whale of a Tale: A Razorback Story"

May 1963

Ron Sagaert in the after engine room by the #3 engine.  April 2015

“The greatest fear aboard a submarine at sea is fire.  Sometime in May 1963, while at sea in WestPac on board the USS Razorback, we experienced an AER [After Engine Room] fire that, while bad and truly scary, could have been a whole lot worse. 

Flash (K. D.) Brenton and I were on watch during a surface transit with both #3 and #4 main engines running.  Flash had been my oiler for a long time at this point and we fit well together, communicating non-verbally while the engines were running.  My short-timer calendar was posted on a locker door bolted to the pressure hull above #3 and I was about 30 days from departure from the boat to begin discharge from the Navy.

Suddenly, we both noticed a wisp of smoke at the forward end of #3 behind the gage panel and near the exhaust elbows.  We peered around to see better, the Flash edging around the forward end of the panel to slip outboard to investigate.  I was looking over the control quadrant when an instant flash of flame billowed up engulfing the forward end of #3 main engine.  I ran aft and yelled ‘Fire in After Engine Room’ as I jumped through the watertight door into Maneuvering Room.  I dogged the hatch shut tight.  The EM’s on duty remotely shut down the engines and reported to Control regarding the fire.

I told them that Flash may still be in the room but they said that FER reported that he was there, having stepped in there at the same time I was racing aft.  The fire raged for a few minutes before starving itself of oxygen.  An officer had come aft from Control and when he couldn’t see anything but black smoke through the portlight in the FER/AER watertight door, he undogged it and swung it open.  Unfortunately, the fire sprang back to life and smoke rushed into the FER.  Re-dogged and secure, the door was left alone for a good half hour while the AER cooled down.  We slowly re-entered the compartment to a smoky and sooty mess.  After the AER was ventilated, we began the investigation and cleanup process.

The copper line feeding fuel pressure to the gage on the main panel was the culprit and a pinhole was discovered in it.  The line was replaced and the engines restarted.  I found the remnants of my dungaree shirt lying across the counter where I had taken the shirt off just prior to seeing the wisp of smoke.  I had a government issue mechanical pencil in the pocket and it was melted nearly beyond recognition.

We cleaned and cleaned for the next 30 days marking my last month on the boat.  Some of my clothes were beyond redemption but I was still able to leave the boat in Sasebo, Japan in June 1963 and head back to San Diego for discharge.”

Ron Sagaert EN2(SS)

The mechanical pencil from the fire.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Skipjack Model Now on Display

"Museum Update"

March 19, 2015

Our own, Joseph Mathis, built a Skipjack Class submarine 1/72 scale model.  Moebius Models and consultant David Merriman created the model kit.  This kit was created after historian Jim Christley secured the Skipjack Class submarine plans once they were declassified and made available for research at the Submarine Force Library and Museum in Groton, Connecticut.  Greg Sharpe was responsible for the accuracy of the model through research and craftsmanship.

Currently the museum has a "General Submarine" exhibit.  This model is displayed along with a Virginia Class submarine model donated by Billy Holloway.

The Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum is currently opened Friday-Sunday throughout the Spring.  For the first time the museum is opened specifically for the Spring Break of Arkansas schools.  This gives you two extra days to visit the museum to see these models!

Spring Break Schedule
Wednesday March 25 10:00-5:30
Thursday March 26 10:00-5:30
Friday March 27 10:00-5:30
Saturday March 28 10:00-5:30
Sunday March 29 1:00-5:30

Watch the blog for more to come at the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum.

Monday, December 15, 2014

70 Years of Fleet Admirals

"This Day in History"

December 14, 1944

The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces. The mission of the Navy is to patrol the world’s oceans and protect the United States and her citizens from any dangers. Internally, to maintain control and organization, the Navy sets a chain of command in order to establish a line of authority and responsibility.  The Navy also has an extensive set of rates and ranks associated with each sailor to determine their status in the chain of command, as well as their pay grade. Rates are associated with enlisted sailors. These rates start at E-1 and go up to E-9. Ranks, however, are only reserved for Navy Officers. The highest Navy rank is the four-star Admiral.
Fleet Admiral collar device, shoulder board, and sleeve stripe.
However, during times of war, Congress can approve the rank of a five-star Fleet Admiral. Equivalent to the General of the Army or the General of the Air Force, the Fleet Admiral in the Navy is the highest rank attainable in the service – though it is only awarded during times of war. This rank was established by an Act of Congress during World War II, on December 14, 1944. Under this act, four officers were authorized the temporary rank of Fleet Admiral: William D. Leahy, William F. Halsey, Jr., Ernest J. King,  and Chester W. Nimitz.

Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King, USN, 1945.
Photograph courtesy of the National Archives.
Ernest King served on submarines from 1923-1925, but never received his Submarine Warfare insignia. He is credited with creating the first design of the insignia worn today by qualified submariners, called “dolphins”.
Official photograph of the United States Navy.
Chester Nimitz was the leading authority on submarines. He was a major contributor in overseeing the conversion of gasoline to diesel in submarines propulsion and assisted with the approval in building the first nuclear-powered submarine. Nimitz was the last surviving officer who served as a Fleet Admiral.
Today, the legacy of the United States Navy and their accomplishments during World War II is memorialized at the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum and USS Razorback. As one of the most complete submarines built during World War II, Razorback is a welcomed addition to the museum. Stop by the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum for a tour of the submarine, and learn more about her service during World War II and after.

Author: Nicolette Lloyd
Editor: Allison Hiblong 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

USS Archerfish sinks Japanese Aircraft Carrier

"This Day in History"

November 28, 1944

Don Diess, a World War II submariner, recalls the evening of November 28, 1944, aboard USS Archerfish (SS-311) vividly.  "'FIRE ONE' came the call from the conning tower.  Then the whole sub bucked."  Diess then explained eight seconds later, the call came again.  The crew aboard Archerfish did not realize they were firing at, and would eventually sink, one of the largest Japanese aircraft carriers ever built.

Japanese Aircraft Carrier Shinano

The evening of November 28, 1944, Archerfish spotted what they believed to be an aircraft carrier leaving Tokyo Bay, Japan.  Archerfish was assigned to lifeguard duty, but immediately went on high alert when the aircraft carrier was spotted.  Diess explained, "I was with 10 other guys in the forward torpedo room waiting the next order.... Then every eight seconds we fired another torpedo until all six forward tubes were empty."

USS Archerfish, Photograph courtesy of the United States Navy.
What Archerfish sank was "arguably the first true 'super-carrier' ever built." The Japanese aircraft carrier, Shinano, had a standard displacement of about 59,900 tons.  Although this was an amazing feat from the crew of Archerfish, luck may have played a big part.  Shinano was not fully operational yet and was traveling through Tokyo Bay for sea trials.  Once Archerfish attacked, the partially trained crew of Shinano could not contain the flooding.  Interestingly enough too, the United States Navy did not recognize the kill because they had no idea the carrier existed.

The Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum has the submarine USS Razorback (SS-394) on display.  The submarine also served during World War II with a decorated battle flag.  Razorback's record is five rescued aviators, 16 Japanese merchant ships, and two Japanese destroyers.  While Archerfish is not available for tours, visitors who tour Razorback learn the lifestyle aboard any submarine during World War II.

Author: Ashley Hopper
Editor: Allison Hiblong

Monday, November 17, 2014

90th Anniversary of the First Aircraft Carrier Reporting for Duty

"This Day in History"

November 17, 1924

Traditionally, an aircraft carrier is the capital ship of a navy, meaning that she possesses the heaviest firepower and armor and is the leading ship in the fleet.  Aircraft carriers are used to deploy aircraft, and can be categorized based on the distinct types of aviation they carry, or their operational assignments. Originally, they were wooden vessels that were converted from different ship types such as cruisers, cargo ships, or even battleships. Today, they are nuclear-powered and can carry dozens of aircraft, ranging from fighter jets to helicopters.

Photograph courtesy of Naval History and Heritage.

USS Langley started her early life as USS Jupiter, a Collier whose keel was laid on October 18, 1911, and who was the first vessel to transit the Panama Canal from west to east.  Jupiter served during the Veracruz crisis in 1914, and after her transit through the canal, arrived in the Naval Yard in Norfolk, Virginia, to start her conversion to an aircraft carrier. As the United States Navy’s first aircraft carrier, Langley’s mission was to conduct experiments for the new discovery of seaborne aviation. Named after Samuel Pierport Langley, the first American astronomer, physicist, aeronautics pioneer and aircraft engineer, she was commissioned on March 20, 1922, with Cmdr. Kenneth Whiting in command.  By October 17th of that same year, Lieut. V.C. Griffin made the first take off from Langley in a Vought VE-7SF, while she was anchored in the York River, Virginia. After additional testing over a two year period, Langley reported for duty with the Pacific Battle Fleet on November 17, 1924, becoming the first operational aircraft carrier in the United States Navy.  

Photograph courtesy of the U.S. Navy and the National Archives.

When the United States entered World War II, aircraft carriers became an essential component of the Navy. They were used to provide air support for both convoys and amphibious invasions, and further refinement would eventually lead to several different designs. Small escort carriers were used as a stop-gap measure, while light aircraft carriers were used as a more militarized version of her predecessor.  With the freedom to move around in the oceans, an aircraft carrier is a large, roaming, military base.

Like Langley, USS Razorback served during World War II.  Unlike Langley, Razorback was a submarine.  Submarines were escorts for aircraft carriers, and though they spent the majority of their time on the surface of the water, they were effective enough to sink over thirty percent of the Japanese Navy.  Since that time, Razorback has gone through a few upgrades, which changed her entire appearance and operation.  Stop by the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum for a tour to learn her history and how she assisted the Navy's war efforts during World War II.

Author: Nicolette Lloyd

Thursday, November 13, 2014

World Pancreatic Cancer Day

November 13, 2014

Today marks the first annual World Pancreatic Cancer Day.  Pancreatic Cancer is the seventh biggest cancer killer in the world, yet many people do not know about this particular cancer.  The initiative is lead by an international group of patient organizations, including Pancreatic Cancer Action.

The survival rate of patients with pancreatic cancer is between three and six percent.  Currently, over 80% of pancreatic cancer patients are diagnosed too late which results to a terminal diagnosis.  Most patients die between four to six months after their diagnosis.  The point of today is to create awareness and understanding about this disease.  Knowing more about this cancer will allow the general public, medical community, and government entities to invest interest and money into curing this disease.  The only potential for a cure at this time is to diagnose the cancer in time for surgery.  

A list of the first noticeable symptoms from the Pancreatic Cancer Action organization.
This disease is very close to the hearts of staff and volunteers at the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum and the crew members of the submarine USS Razorback (SS-394).  Allen Shane Foraker was a crew member of Razorback and an active member in the USS Razorback Association.  In March of 2013, Shane was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer; after an 11-month battle he passed away at 71 years old on February 17, 2014.

Shane served in the United States Navy starting in the early 1960's.  He qualified into the submarine service while aboard Razorback.  Shane progressed to the rank of Commander in the early 1970's and finally retired from the Navy in 1989.  

Shane and Ron at the 2013 Razorback work party.
In April of 2013, Shane was able to attend the annual Razorback work party.  During that week he slept on the submarine and worked on the number 1 engine.  At the end of the week Shane was present when the engine started for the first time since 2001.  The video below is of the engine start courtesy of Jim Gates.

Shane was survived by his wife of 50 years, their three children, seven grandchildren, and other extended family members, as well as many crew members from his submarine service.

Shane guiding his granddaughters through the submarine.
The Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum would like to remember Shane today.  We hope that an annual day dedicated to pancreatic cancer will bring awareness to the disease and help find a way for treatment and a cure for those patients fighting the good fight.

Author: Allison Hiblong

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans Day

"This Day in History"

November 11, 1954

The first Veterans Day was celebrated 60 years ago today.  On May 26, 1954 a bill was signed in Congress to create Veterans Day.

"In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans' organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose." -- President Eisenhower, "Veterans Day Proclamation"

Veterans Day replaced the United States' holiday of Armistice Day.  The original holiday was to honor service men who died while serving in World War I.  The holiday was observed on November 11th at 11:00 a.m. because World War I ended on that day at that time in 1918.

In 1945, after the end of World War II, Raymond Weeks from Alabama suggested that Armistice Day should be expanded to celebrate all service men.  The first national celebration was lead by Weeks and held in Alabama in 1947.  United States Representative Ed Rees from Kansas, presented the bill to Congress that established Veterans Day.

Ceremony at the Snook Memorial.

Today many Veterans' organizations host ceremonies honoring all veterans.  The USSVI USS Razorback Base host a ceremony annually at the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum.  This year the event was hosted primarily inside, due to the weather, but the base members did complete a traditional wreath laying ceremony off of the deck of the submarine USS Razorback and placed a wreath at the USS Snook Memorial.

Wreath Laying Ceremony

Author: Allison Hiblong

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!!

"Museum Happenings"

October 31, 2014

A "Hippy Dippy Weather Man" came into work today.  Joseph tie dyed an Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum t-shirt and wore some homemade bell bottoms.

We hope everyone enjoys the holiday and stays safe.  Remember that after all of the festivities this weekend you get an extra hour of sleep on Sunday with the time change.  The museum will begin to close at 4:30 starting Sunday.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

150th Anniversary of the sinking of CSS Albemarle

"This Day in History"

October 27, 1864

In April 1862, the Confederate Navy Department enthusiastically sought to replicate the victory of their first ironclad, CSS Virginia, against the Union’s wooden hulled blockaders. This was finalized with the Confederate ram, CSS Albemarle. Constructed to assist in the North Carolina sounds, this ram was armored with eight 30-degree angled sides, and included two 6.4 inch Brooke pivot rifles stationed in three different fixed positions. These cannons were protected by six iron shutters, mounted on all sides. The ram was propelled by 3-bladed screw propellers that were powered by steam engines. Albemarle was constructed throughout 1863-4 and was commissioned in April 1864.

Albemarle was a powerful tool used by the Confederacy, and a terror to the Union Navy. Two plans were submitted by Lt. William B. Cushing in an attempt to destroy Albemarie. Locating two small steam launches, Cushing fitted each of them with spar torpedoes. Spar torpedoes consisted of a bomb that was placed on the end of a long pole, or spar, and then attached to a boat. The goal was to run the bomb into an enemy ship. Some spar torpedoes were equipped with a barbed spear in the end, so it could stick to wooden hulls, and then a fuse would be lighted to detonate.

The night of October 27, 1864, Cushing took his small steam launches upriver towards Albemarle, who was anchored up the Roanoke River at Plymouth, Virginia. Under the cover of darkness, they were able to sneak past the guarding boats undetected to surprise Albemarle and ride up to place the spar torpedoes against the hull of the ironclad. The explosion was detonated and she sank immediately.

The spar torpedoes were the latest invention in submarine evolution. The torpedoes are the next evolution of technology for submersibles to destroy an enemy. Unfortunately, with budgetary constraints prevalent by World War II, many boats were equipped with under-performing torpedoes that would either not detonate, or could not be controlled to hit an enemy boat. It was evident after World War II that new technology for torpedoes needed to be developed to keep up with the newer boats and ships of the time.

USS Razorback, located at the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum in North Little Rock, Arkansas, also saw the evolution of technology development in torpedoes. Razorback started with the unreliable World War II torpedoes, the Mark 14, and was soon after introduced to the Mark 37 torpedo. The Mark 37 used electrical propulsion rather than pressurized air to launch from its tubes, and was guided with a gyroscope, a passive sonar homing system and a Doppler-enabled active sonar homing. Like Albermarle, without this superior technology, the results during war could have been drastically different.

Author: Nicolette Lloyd

Monday, October 13, 2014

100th Anniversary of the First Naval Ship to Transit the Panama Canal

"This Week in History"

October 12, 1914

Photograph courtesy of U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command.

On October 12, 1914, the USS Jupiter (AC-3) became the first United States Navy ship to complete the transit of the Panama Canal. Built in 1911 at the Mare Island Navy Shipyard in Vallejo, California, and launched August 14, 1912, Jupiter was originally built as a collier. A collier is a ship designed to carry coal for naval use by coal-fired warships. These bulk cargo ships were noted for their flat-bottom hulls and sturdy construction, which assisted them well in transition. They served the Navy until the invention of aircraft carrier hulls that were built for this specific task. Jupiter reported to the Pacific Fleet in Mexico on April 27, 1914. She assisted the U.S. Navy during the Veracruz crisis, remaining there until October 1914. She departed for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on October 10th. En route to Pennsylvania, she steamed through the Panama Canal on Columbus Day to become the first vessel to transit from west to east. From the Naval Yard in Norfolk, Virginia, she was converted into the first United States aircraft carrier to assist with conducting experiments in the new experimental phase of seaborne aviation. She was renamed USS Langley, and reclassified as a CV-1. She officially was re-commissioned on March 20, 1922.

Photograph courtesy of the Library of Congress.

On October 14, 1912, President Taft traveled to the Panama Canal for inspection aboard USS Arkansas (BB-33).  Arkansas did not transit the canal until July of 1919.  The battleship made this transit multiple times during her service in the Navy.  Like JupiterArkansas made the transition through the Panama Canal to join the war effort in the Pacific Ocean.  The Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum displays an exhibit about Arkansas's service from 1912 through 1946.  Visitors can browse the museum exhibits about the battleship and missile cruiser ships named after the State of Arkansas as well as a World War II submarine, USS Razorback (SS-394).  Today, the museum honors the victories and the brave men who fought during World War II.  Come on down to North Little Rock, Arkansas, and take a tour to see the history for yourself.

Author: Nicolette Lloyd

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

60th Anniversary of Submarine Nuclear Power

This Day in History

September 30, 1954

On this day in 1954, the first nuclear powered submarine, USS Nautilus (SSN-571), was commissioned into the United States Navy.  Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, known as the “Father of the Nuclear Navy,” personally planned and supervised the construction of Nautilus.  The keel was laid at General Dynamics’s Electric Boat Division in Groton, Connecticut on June 14, 1952, by President Harry S. Truman. January 21, 1954, Nautilus was christened by the First Lady Mamie Eisenhower and launched into the Thames River. Nautilus completed 25 years of service to the United States Navy.  During that time the submarine broke records and was put into history books for various missions and cruises due to her nuclear propulsion. 

First Lady Eisenhower christening USS Nautilus.
The S2W Naval Reactor aboard Nautilus was crucial for submarine propulsion because of the reactor’s zero-emission process that consumes no oxygen; was built by Westinghouse Electric Corporation and Bettis Atomic Laboratory. This nuclear propulsion allowed the submarine to remain submerged far longer than diesel-electric submarines.  In World War II, submarines were encouraged to surface every 12 to 36 hours to replenish their oxygen.  After the war the GUPPY (Greater Underwater Propulsion Power) program allowed submarine to stay submerged for over 60 days, but they had to remain within 50 feet of the water’s surface. 

Balao Class Submarine
USS Nautilus
January 17, 1955, Nautilus was put to sea for the first time and sent the message “Underway on nuclear power,” at 11:00 a.m. The commanding officer was Commander Eugene P. Wilkinson.  Then in May, the submarine traveled from New London, Connecticut to San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Nautilus covered 1,381 miles in less than 90 hours.  At this time, this was the longest submerged cruise by a submarine and at the highest sustained speed ever recorded. 

The crew earned the Presidential Unit Citation with “Operation Sunshine” in 1958.  This operation was in response to the USSR’s satellite Sputnik.  President Eisenhower ordered the Navy to attempt a submarine transit of the North Pole to gain credibility for the soon-to-come SLBM (Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile) weapons system, which is capable of being launched from submarines.
“For outstanding achievement in completing the first voyage in history across the top of the world, by cruising under the Arctic cap from the Bering Strait to the Greenland Sea.”

August 3, 1958, Nautilus passed beneath the geographic North Pole under the command of Commander William R. Anderson.  Thanks to the nuclear reactor, Nautilus could travel to locations previously beyond the limits of submarines.

The final voyage of Nautilus was from Groton, Connecticut, to Mare Island Shipyard, Vallejo, California.  May 26, 1979, was the submarine’s last day underway.  After 25 years of service and over half a million miles steamed the submarine was decommissioned on March 3, 1980.  In 1982, Nautilus became a National Historic Landmark.  Today visitors can see Nautilus floating in the Thames River in Groton, Connecticut. 

Author: Allison Hiblong

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The End of Pearl Harbor Salvage Efforts

"This Day in History"

September 23, 1944

Japan attacked the United States Navy harbor in Hawaii on December 7, 1941.  The week after the raid a salvage organization was formerly established for one of history’s greatest salvage jobs.  Captain Homer N. Wallin commanded the salvage efforts for over two years.  United States Navy and civilian divers completed about 5,000 dives and spent around 20,000 hours underwater.  The dives focused on recovering human remains, documents, ammunition, and other items from the ships damaged in the harbor. 

Divers standing in front of a decompression chamber.
Pearl Harbor Salvage Operations, official U.S. Navy Photograph.
Due to the attack five battleships, two destroyers, a target ship, and a mine layer were sunk or so severely damaged that they were considered a total loss.    Three ships that never returned to service due to their damage were USS Oklahoma, USS Utah, and USS Arizona.  In 1942, four ships were refloated and placed back into the active fleet to help defeat Japan.  These ships included USS Nevada, USS California, USS Oglala, and USS West Virginia.

USS Oklahoma righted about 30 degrees on March 29, 1943.  Official U.S. Navy Photograph.
USS West Virginia (BB-48) was a battleship present in Pearl Harbor during the December 7, 1941, Japanese attack. The Japanese bombardment hit the battleship with two bombs and several torpedoes, and though she was saved from capsizing, she still sank to the harbor bottom. Her crew was on board, and over a hundred souls were lost. 

"The conduct of the crew and officers was outstanding.  There was no confusion and
every man and officer did his duty as well as he was able under the conditions."

-- Lieutenant Commander T. T. Beattie

She entered the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard for repairs and was modernized at the Puget Sound Navy Yard, emerging in July 1944 fully functional. She rejoined the Pacific Fleet on September 23, 1944. 

USS West Virginia in drydock at Pearl Harbor on June 10, 1942, for repair.  Official U.S. Navy Photograph.

USS Hoga (YT-146), a tug boat, was also present during the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor. She was able to not only successfully avoid devastating damage, but assisted with rescue and firefighting operations on the battleships that were damaged. She remained in Pearl Harbor after the attacks, assisting with continued debris clean up, salvage efforts, and patrols of the shore. 

The Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum is continuing its efforts in bringing Hoga to the Arkansas River in the near future, where tours will be available. Currently, the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum houses USS Razorback (SS-394) and a museum dedicated to continued education in not only World War II vessels, but different vessels throughout American history. Come down and take a tour and learn something new!

Author: Nicolette Lloyd

Friday, September 05, 2014

USS Finback Saves George H. W. Bush

This Week in History

September 2, 1944

On September 2, 1944, Lt (jg) George H. W. Bush was pulled from the Pacific Ocean by USS Finback (SS-230) after bailing out of his VT-51 aircraft.  Bush's mission was to destroy the Japanese radio station on Chichi Jima, which had been intercepting United States military radio transmissions.  After receiving a devastating hit by Japanese anti-aircraft, Bush still managed to destroy the radio station and was successfully picked up four hours later.  Bush returned to the United States after 30 days aboard the submarine.  Later Bush was elected as the 41st President of the United States; an event which may not have occurred unless he was rescued that faithful day.

George H. W. Bush
Like Finback, USS Razorback (SS-394) also picked up friendly pilots during World War II, totaling five airmen.  These missions were referred to as "lifeguard duty."  Razorback was assigned this duty during her fourth war patrol, from May 7th through June 27th of 1944.  While on patrol in the Nanpo Islands and Tokyo Bay area, she rescued LtCol Charles E. Taylor on May 25th and four crewmen from a B-29 Superfortress on June 5th.  Visit to read Razorback's war patrols.  In total during World War II, 520 airmen were saved by submarines.

Razorback and Finback share their namesake since both are named after a suborder of the baleen whales, commonly known as the fin whale.  These marine mammals are the second largest animal in the world, beautiful and fast, much like the submarines themselves.  The fin whale, besides being known as both the finback and razorback, is also called a common rorqual.

Fin Whale
The Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum is the permanent home of the submarine Razorback, and while touring her you will hear tales of the life of a sailor and her history.  Razorback accomplished many feats during her time commissioned in the Navy, but it is her World War II history that you will find most astounding.  Stop by and take a tour to learn more about what Razorback, and her fellow submarines, withstood during World War II!

Author: Nicolette Lloyd

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Submarine Transport Mission

This Day in History

August 27, 1944

World War II submarines were a vital part of the overall goal for the United States Navy.  Making up less than 2 percent of the Navy, they still effectively sank over 30 percent of the Japanese Navy.  Their missions were strategic.  

Graph courtesy of

Submarines were instrumental in disrupting the Japanese supply chain, but they were also instrumental in delivering supplies to their allies.  USS Stingray (SS-186) played a part in the guerrilla operations that took place on August 27, 1944.  She took fifteen Filipino personnel and six tons of supplies on the island of Luzon in advance of military personnel landings.  This way only one of dozens of "special transport" missions that would help assist the United States in the war effort.

Photograph courtesy of U.S. Naval Historical Center.
USS Razorback (SS-394) also helped in these missions.  Razorback was launched on January 27, 1944, and was sent on her first patrol on August 25, 1944.  As a member of an offensive group in support of many of these landings on the Philippines, she would stay east of Luzon until mid-September.  While on patrol defending the special transport missions, she would earn one of her many war victories when she sank an 820-ton destroyer.

Submarines during World War II were an effective tool to help assist the Navy.  They would strangle the Japanese economy by effectively sinking over five million tons of supplies.  Though they were a great asset, this came with a heavy cost.  52 submarines were sunk, resulting in 3,506 men dying during World War II.  Their legacies are incorporated in many museums and memorials we see today.  Patrons of the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum can visit one of these memorials on location.  USS Snook Memorial is on display to the public to commemorate the submarines that are still on patrol.

Bless those who serve beneath the deep,
Through lonely hours their vigil keep.
May peace their mission ever be,
Protect each one we ask of thee.
Bless those at home who wait and pray,
For their return by night or day.
--Submarine verse of the Navy Hymn

Memorial on site at the Museum.
Author: Nicolette Lloyd

Thursday, August 14, 2014

AIMM Memberships

"Museum Updates"

The Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum is happy to announce it's new membership drive.  The museum has a variety of different annual membership levels for individuals, families, and even corporations; there is also a lifetime membership available.

Annual Memberships

Crew – Individual Membership – $30
  • One year unlimited free admission for 1 member during regular business hours
  • 10% discount in the Museum’s store for 1 member
Helmsman – Family Membership - $75
  • One year unlimited free admission for a family of 4 during regular business hours
  • 10% discount in the Museum’s store for members
Navigator – Supporters Membership – $100
  • One year unlimited free admission for 2 members during regular business hours
  • 2 free admission passes for friends or family to be redeemed during regular business hours
  • 10% discount in the Museum’s store for members
Commander – Corporate Membership – $1,000
  • 20% discount to rent the facility for a corporate event
  • 1 private tour of the submarine for up to 30 people by appointment only
  • 10% discount in the Museum’s store during a corporate event
  • 20 free admission passes to be redeemed during regular business hours
  • Business acknowledged in the Museum’s newsletter “AIMM Lookout”
  • One year unlimited free admission for 2 members during regular business hours
  • 10% discount in the Museum’s store for members

Lifetime Memberships

Admiral – Lifetime Membership – $750
  • Lifetime free admission for 2 members during regular business hours
  • 2 free admission passes annually for friends or family to be redeemed during regular business hours
  • 1 private tour of the submarine including off-limit areas for up to 10 people by appointment only
  • 10% discount in the Museum’s store for members
  • 10% discount for 1 special event hosted at the Museum facility annually
  • USS Razorback or USS Hoga challenge coin
To become a member of the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum please contact the museum by phone (501) 371-8320 or email

Thank you for your continued support of the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

CSS Hunley: 150th Anniversary of a Successful Submarine Attack

This Year in History


The submarine CSS Horace L. Hunley was built in 1863 by the Confederate States during the Civil War.  Hunley was 39 and a half feet long, weighing seven and a half tons, and was hand-powered by seven crew men turning a hand cranked propeller.  Hunley had many features on it that submarines still use today, such as ballast tanks that could be flooded with water and pumped dry with air, a tapered bow and stern, and diving planes.  Unlike today's submarines, Hunley's only means of attack was its single spar torpedo that had a 90-pound gunpowder warhead that could explode underwater, and might have even had an electric detonator to set it off.

CSS Hunley

Hunley's first, and only, attack was on February 17, 1864, trying to break the blockade at Charleston, South Carolina.  The submarine's attack managed to sink the steam powered USS Housatonic.  However, Hunley did not return from the attack and the blockade remained in place.

Hunley's fate remained a mystery for 131 years until it was discovered in May of 1995, not far from the site of its successful attack.  Hunley was recovered in 2000 and is currently undergoing conservation, further study, and on public display at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center.

CSS Hunley being recovered from Charleston Harbor on August 8, 2000.
Photograph courtesy of Naval Historical Center.
Author: Lyle Grisham
Completed as a student intern through the University of Arkansas at Little Rock History Department.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

50th Anniversary of an All-Nuclear Task Force

"This Day in History"

July 31, 1964

"The Beginning of the Nuclear Surface Navy"

Operation Sea Orbit was a 64 day mission by the United States Navy for Task Force One to orbit the earth without refueling or resupplying.  This task force consisted of the following ships: an attack carrier USS Enterprise (CVAN-65), a guided missile cruiser USS Long Beach (CGN-9), and a guided missile frigate USS Bainbridge (DLGN-25).  This mission covered 30,500 miles with 57 actual steaming days crossing the equator four times.

Photograph of USS Enterprise, USS Long Beach, and USS Bainbridge.
Photograph courtesy of

The purpose of Operation Sea Orbit, according to Rear Admiral Bernard M. Strean, U.S. Navy Commander, Task Force One, stated simply were:
  • To test the capability of these nuclear powered ships to maintain high speeds for indefinite periods over long distances in all environments of weather, seas, and seasons, without refueling or replenishment of any kind.
  • To demonstrate the mobility, flexibility, and strength of this element of U.S. power for keeping the peace.
  • To show these powerful, modern ships, and aircraft to peoples in remote areas of the world.
  • To familiarize Navy personnel with infrequently visited ocean areas.
  • To provide training and experience designed to improve our staying power at sea, particularly in remote areas.
  • To demonstrate our ability to reinforce or to bring U.S. power quickly to areas far from established bases, and to arrive with that power ready to fight.
  • To enhance the military and political image of the United States.
The motto of the cruise was "Nuclear Power for Peace."  Enterprise hosted "underway" visits from foreign government officials which included briefings and a view of an air fire-power demonstration.  These governments included: Morocco, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil.  These friends of the United States were able to view first hand the powerful and modern ships and up-to-date weapons and aircraft available to the United States Navy in 1964.

Operation Sea Orbit map courtesy of U.S. Navy All Hands magazine January 1965.

While the ships did not resupply during the cruise the crews did enjoy liberty in Pakistan, Australia, and Brazil.  The Task Force One's complement was 6,057 officers and enlisted men.  These liberties did not have a single incident that involved a U.S. sailor and members of the local populations; which is quite a feat.

Operation Sea Orbit allowed the United States Navy to display its nuclear power force to the world during the Cold War.  The U.S. Navy has not looked back.  The Naval Historical Foundation produced a video to salute the accomplishments and legacy of the 1964 Operation Sea Orbit cruise.  The video was created by J. Mark Huffman at 26th Street Media.  Click here to watch the 6 1/2 minute video.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

SEALAB: Habitats Under the Water

"This Day in History"

July 22, 1964


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