Thursday, April 03, 2014


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.


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:

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 ( 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

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.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

New Scorpion Memorial at AIMM

This past weekend, Bob Nesbitt of Flooring Consultants, Inc., began work on a memorial to USS Scorpion on the grounds of the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum.  While a few details remain to be “touched up”, the memorial is complete enough to show.

The memorial is outside the gate, so it will be accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The text at the bottom reads:

In Memory of ETN2 Richard G. Schaffer
1963 Graduate of Sylvan Hills High School
Crewmember USS Scorption (SSN-589)

Dedicated to the 99 Men of the USS Scorpion (SSN-589)
Declared Lost With All Hands 5 June 1968

To All Those on Eternal Patrol

Bob and his company donated all the design work and are installing the memorial for free.

Detail of Memorial

Detail of the Memorial

Scorpion Memorial at Sea - 2004

In 2004, as USS Razorback was being towed from Turkey to the United States, she took a short side-trip to the approximate location where Scorpion was lost.  A memorial service was held at sea, and a duplicate of the plaque you see here was placed in the water at the site.

In Memory of the Loss of USS Scorpion (SSN-589)

Forty-five years ago today, on May 22nd, 1968, the 99 officers and crew of USS Scorpion (SSN-589) lost their lives.

Scorpion was one of only two United States Navy nuclear-powered submarines to ever be lost.

Scorpion was a Skipjack-class nuclear-powered attack submarine.  Designed during the 1950s, she incorporated the virtually unlimited underwater endurance of nuclear power along with the best submarine warfare knowledge and all the technological advances gained during World War II.

Scorpion's wreck lies in approximately 9,800 feet of water, approximately 400 miles southwest of the Azores Islands.  She is in four major pieces:
  • Forward hull section (including torpedo room and part of the operations section)
  • After hull section (the aft section of the engine room has "telescoped" into the forward part)
  • The sail
  • The propeller and shaft

The cause of her loss has never been definitively established.

There are several books about Scorpion's loss in the AIMM library.

Image courtesy of the U.S. Navy History and Heritage Command, which holds a large collection of images related to Scorpion.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Long-Serving Submarine Commissioned This Day

This plaque was recently donated to AIMM, and researching the background of this artifact revealed a story that needs to be told...

On this day in 1944, USS Baya(SS-318) was commissioned.  At the time, no one had any idea that they were commissioning a submarine that would stay in service for nearly 30 years.

Baya completed five war patrols during WWII, winning four battle stars.  However, it would be her peacetime service that would be far more important to the the Navy.

Baya was decommissioned shortly after the war ended, but her inactive status would last only a short time.  She was converted into an experimental submarine and re-commissioned as AGSS-318, an "Auxiliary Research Submarine".

From 1948 until 1972, Baya conducted countless experiments with different kinds of Sonars, different fire control systems and many, many other kinds of research.  There are at least ten photographs of Baya during this period, and every picture shows her in a different configuration, with different equipment.  A complete history of her activities would probably require a very large book.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

National Maritime Day Recognized by the Dem-Gaz

Wednesday is National Maritime Day, which gives us the opportunity to reflect on the role Arkansans have played in American maritime activity.
For a small land-locked Southern state, Arkansas has a surprisingly rich maritime history.
For thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans, Indians living in what is today Arkansas made impressive use of the state’s rivers. Canoes carved from tree trunks were used by Indians for fishing, transportation of goods, and as Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto discovered, in warfare. A few prehistoric canoes have been found in Arkansas.
The arrival of the first steamboat in the Arkansas Territory in 1820 ushered in a new era of commerce and travel for the newly created territory. Within a few years it was possible to make a trip from Little Rock or Camden to New Orleans, conduct business, and return home in less than a week. Cotton, deer hides, be aroil and countless other products of Arkansas forests and farms could be shipped to markets in a planned and timely manner. Within a few years of its arrival, the steamboat had become an integral part of the economy. It also brought romance and drama to towns across the state.
Archaeologist and historian Leslie Stewart-Abernathy summed up the rapid growth and penetration of steamboats in the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture: “By about 1875, steamboats had reached everywhere in the state, up the Little Red River, into the Fourche La Fave, up the St. Francis River and Bayou Bartholomew, and eventually up the Buffalo River as far as Rush.”
Arkansas earned a note in American maritime history on April 27, 1865, when the steamboat Sultana exploded on the Mississippi River upriver from Memphis, killing about 1,800 people, mostly Union army soldiers on their way home. The Sultana explosion has been called America’s worst maritime disaster, causing more deaths than the sinking of the Titanic. It is believed that the Sultana, probably containing human remains, lies buried in Mississippi County.
Arkansas has lent its name to several warships, including a wooden steamer during the Civil War, a single-turret monitor launched in the 1890s, and the battleship USS Arkansas. During the Civil War, the CSS Arkansas had a short but brilliant history as a ram on the Mississippi River in defense of Vicksburg. The commander of the CSS Arkansas, Lt. Isaac Newton Brown, was awarded the Confederate Medal of Honor for successfully making his way through a dense Union blockade into the port at Vicksburg.
The USS Arkansas, launched in January 1911, participated in both world wars and received four battle stars for service in World War II. The vessel measured 562 feet by 93 feet, had a crew of 58 officers and 1,005 men, and could make a top speed of 21 knots. She was armed with 12 12-inch guns with a 16,000-yard range.
The city of Little Rock was the namesake of a light cruiser that was launched late in World War II and saw little action. The USS Little Rock went through several incarnations during its life. In 1957 the Little Rock was converted to a modern guided missile cruiser, becoming the first U.S. Navy vessel to carry the new Talos missiles, capable of delivering a nuclear warhead about 700 miles. The USS Little Rock was the first ship to come to the aid of the USS Liberty, which had been attacked by Israeli naval and air forces on June 8, 1967. In 1969-70 it was the flagship of the Sixth Fleet. Decommissioned in 1976, the Little Rock was donated to a military park in Buffalo, New York.
In 2011 Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced that a new combat ship will be named the USS Little Rock. Mabus, who served as a youthful and bewhiskered lieutenant (junior grade) aboard the Little Rock in 1971-72, is proud of his service on the ship.
The new USS Little Rock will be what the Navy calls a Littoral Combat Ship, with the purpose of defeating “growing littoral [near-shore] threats and [providing] access and dominance in the coastal waters,” according to a Defense Department press release. This would include “missions close to the shore, such as mine warfare, anti-submarine warfare, and surface warfare.” With a length of 378 feet, the craft will displace about 3,000 tons.
That is quite a maritime history, and I did not even mention Pine Bluff-born Admiral John S. Thach, famed for developing a maneuver which helped stave off defeat in the early days of World War II in the Pacific.
Tom Dillard is a historian and retired archivist living in Farmington, Ark. Email him .
Editorial, Pages 74 on 05/19/2013
Print Headline: Arkansas at sea
Reprinted from the Sunday, May 19th, 2013 issue of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette with the kind permission of the author.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Behind the Scenes

Just because we aren't open to the public, doesn't mean we aren't BUSY.  In fact, giving tours may be one of the EASIEST parts of museum work.

Recently, AIMM's Curator, Mike Hopper, took advantage of the nice weather to do some of the outside maintenance that seems to never end...

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...

Apparently, this chickadee has dreams of being a radioman, or maybe a homing pigeon...

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:

This was taken the morning of April 12th.

Another video from the morning run.

A video from the afternoon test.

A video taken from inside Razorback.

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

AIMM will open a little later than normal on Saturday, April 6th, due to a special event occurring that morning.

We will open at 11:00 a.m.

We apologize for the inconvenience.

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.
"08 September
"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.

"07 October
" 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

On this day in 1960, USS Triton (SSRN-586) began the first submerged circumnavigation of the world.

This 84-day trip, known as Operation Sandblast, proved that nuclear propulsion could provide amazing underwater endurance and sustained high speeds.

Triton followed the same track sailed by the famed explorer Ferdinand Magellan during his voyage in 1519:

The voyage was also used to collect oceanographic data for scientists to review. The submarine service has a long and storied history of scientific discovery and co-operation, a history that continues to this day.

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.