Wednesday, August 31, 2005

VJ Day Event Aboard the Razorback

Ceremony Aboard U.S.S. Razorback To Mark
60th Anniversary of Victory In Japan Day

A ceremony marking the 60th Anniversary of Victory in Japan Day will be held aboard the U.S.S. Razorback in North Little Rock at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, September 2.

On September 2, 1945, the U.S.S. Razorback was one of 12 submarines moored alongside the U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay when Japan surrendered.

Representatives from the U.S. Navy and Mayor Patrick Hays will make comments. The ceremony will last approximately 30 minutes. The public is invited.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

AIMM Bookstore Now Open

We have received our first (small) shipment of books. Other shipments of books and videos are already on order.

We have:

  • “Hot, Straight and Normal” by Ron Martini
This is a one-of-a-kind bibliography of over 6,000 submarine-related books, videos, magazine articles and Internet sites. $23.95
  • “Thunder Below!” by Rear Admiral Eugene B. Fluckey, USN (ret)

This is the story of USS Barb (SS 220), during her final five WWII war patrols under then-CDR Fluckey. CDR Fluckey received the Congressional Medal of Honor and four Navy Crosses. This book won the Samuel Eliot Morison Prize for the best book on naval subjects in 1993. Signed by Own Williams, a Barb crewmember. $19.95

  • “The Rescue” by Steven Trent Smith

This is the story of the rescue of 40 Americans from the Philippines by USS Crevalle (SS 291). Also recovered were copies of secret Japanese war plans. Signed by the author. $15.95

  • “The Submarine Book” by Chuck Lawliss

This is a short (200 page), illustrated, and very readable history of submarines. $16.95

  • “Fresh Water Submarines – the Maintowoc Story” by Rear Admiral Willam T. Nelson, USN (ret)

This book provides details of the construction, training, delivery, and successes of the 28 submarines built by Manitowoc Shipbuilding in Wisconsin, on Lake Michigan. Manitowoc, WI is now home to USS Cobia (SS 245) and the Wisconsin Maritime Museum. $9.95

Quantities of all books are limited.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Actor/Director/Writer/Student Comes Aboard

Sean Jones of North Little Rock fires a "ping" from the Sonar Room aboard the Razorback.

Sean was home from California where he is a student at UCLA majoring in theater. He has been acting and directing and writing since he was a young child and appeared in the John Grisham movie A Painted House.

He is currently filming an independent project with another student at UCLA that will be entered in the Sundance Film Festival.

Sean and his family are life long residents of North Little Rock and we are very proud of all he has done. Keep your eye out for this young man, we feel sure he'll follow in the shoes of Mary Steenburgen and Joey Lauren Adams who are also from our little piece of paradise called North Little Rock.

Fair Winds and Following Seas Chief Mason

Former Razorback COB James Mason, of Washington state (L), Ray Wewers and Greg Zonner visited this morning before Chief Mason headed back to Washington. Mason was in town for the Sea Fox reunion. He served on both boats and is a big supporter of AIMM. Wewers is another diesel boat sailor (although toward the end of his Navy career he was a nukie-poo (thanks for the tip on that nickname Chief!) and has put in many hard hours on the 394. His current project is laying tile throughout the boat. Zonner, of course, is our museum director and is also a nukie-poo. :)

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Sea Fox Work Day Slide Show

Click on the title or visit the above listed site to download a slide show of the work day aboard the Razorback for the Sea Fox crew. This file is stored at a safe site and when your firewall security asks if it is ok to is. Enjoy the show. Oh, if you are using dial-up it is not a recommended procedure since it is a large file. The AIMM Team

AIMM Puts Sea Fox Sailors to Work!

Sailors from the SS Sea Fox were put to work on Saturday when they were in town for their reunion.

AIMM director Greg Zonner was chatting with them about the need to remove a couple of skids from the FTR. It took only a minute for the Sea Foxers to rise to the task.

While many said they would probably have aches and pains, they wouldn't have passed up the opportunity to lay their hands on a diesel boat once more. Thanks fellas.

Just like the old days!
COB Mason (far right) keeps his men safe.

A Couple of Heroes

It is always a special honor to meet a World War II veteran. We consider them each a true hero.

Charles E. "Nasty" Brown, from Albuquerque, New Mexico and Herman "Shorty" Hagerman, of North Little Rock visit during the Sea Fox reunion.

Brown served not only aboard the Sea Fox, He also made the 4th and 5th war patrols aboard the Razorback in 1945. While on the 394, he was a SC2 and told us that George Dement and he served together.

You will remember Dement was a plankowner of the boat and went on to serve as the mayor of Bossier City, Louisiana where he recently retired after twenty-years in office.

Hagerman served aboard the USS Lexington in nearly every battle she participated in during the monumental battles in the Coral Sea. He volunteers numerous hours aboard the Razorback and has been "qualified" as a submariner.

BZ men.

"Uncle Lew" Gives a Lesson

Capt. Lewis "Uncle Lew" Neeb, USN (ret) entertains Brian and Alex Thomas. Neeb was the commander of the SS Sea Fox (402) from 1955-1957. Alex and Brian are deck hands aboard the SS Razorback/TCG Muratreis. Captain Neeb was in North Little Rock attending the SS Sea Fox's reunion.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Long But Good Article From Today's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Deck Hand "T-Man" Betts coaxes visitors topside on a recent tour. (CNLR Mayor's Office Photo)


From the safety of the Arkansas River bank, landlubbers clamber through the hatch and get a firsthand look at life aboard the submarine USS Razorback.


Chelsea Betts, a jolly teenage guide on the USS Razorback, gives her flock of seven tourists a last chance to change their minds before descending into the World War II submarine that has been open to the public along North Little Rock’s riverfront since May. "The compartments are kind of small," she says. "If you’re afraid of tight spaces or don’t like hot spaces, you might not want to go. It doesn’t smell too great either." Nobody backs out. So Betts demonstrates how to get a foothold on the narrow metal ladder descending into the bowels of the Razorback — named for a species of whale, not Arkansas’ emblematic wild hog.

The vessel, centerpiece of the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum, was present in Tokyo Bay on Sept. 2, 1945, for the Japanese surrender ceremony. It served the U.S. Navy until 1970, before being transferred to the Turkish navy and renamed the Murat Reis. An intrepid group of submarine veterans organized themselves five years ago as Razorback Base and worked with North Little Rock Mayor Patrick Hays to acquire the sub for landlocked Arkansas.

"For now, we’ve kept the configuration of the submarine exactly as when it was in service," says Greg Zonner, a Razorback Base stalwart and executive director of the new museum. "We didn’t cut any holes into it or change anything inside. It’s a lot more realistic than some other museum submarines, where they’ve cut the side open for easier entry. When that’s done, you lose the feel of what it’s like to go into a submarine."

A sign posted at the edge of the parking lot spells out what it takes to visit: "To tour, you must be able to climb a 14-foot ladder. Not be claustrophobic (scared of small spaces). Be able to go through a watertight door 38 inches high by 20 inches wide. Be at least 5 years old."

Visitors buy their tickets on a barge moored just to the west of the sub. Souvenirs for sale include Razorback baseball caps ($15) and T-shirts ($12 for adult sizes, $8 for kids). Both U.S. and Turkish flags are flying nearby.

Betts starts the 40-minute tour on the vessel’s deck, which sports its original teak wood from 1944, with another reality-based reminder: "This sub is 95 percent operational, so we want to make sure you don’t push any buttons or turn any knobs or pull any levers. Everything gets cranked up once a month to make sure it’s working." (Not working yet is the air conditioning or the periscope. Both are scheduled to be repaired at some point.)


One of seven young guides trained by the submarine vets, who conduct some tours themselves, Betts explains that the vessel’s exterior is painted black "because it’s harder to see that way. It would be really hard to hide in a pink or yellow submarine." Her infectious sense of humor, along with an impressive depth of knowledge for a high-schooler who’d never been on a submarine before this spring, keeps the 45-minute tour breezing along.

Once everyone is down the hatch on the steep ladder, the interior visit starts in the after torpedo room. What catches the eye, even more than the torpedo tubes, are the closely placed bunks. "This was the bunking area for at least 14 enlisted men," says Betts. "They did what was called ‘hot-racking,’ sleeping in shifts. One guy would wake up and go to work, while another would go to sleep. They slept on these thin mats. There were no sheets or pillows, because there was not enough fresh water to wash linens. If you were lucky, you had a towel to wipe off your bunk mate’s sweat. If not, you got in and got over it."

Clambering through the first of a half-dozen watertight doors, the tourists enter the maneuvering room, smallest visited compartment on the Razorback. "Lots of people think submarines run off engines," Betts says. "They actually run off batteries. The only time the diesel engine was turned on was to charge the batteries."

In the after main engine room, the temperature would have been around 125 degrees at all times, according to Betts. Happily, it’s a lot cooler than that now, thanks to whirring fans that are pinch-hitting for the idled air conditioning.

The submarine’s water supply gets an explanation in the forward main engine room: "The water came directly from the ocean and had to be distilled. They distilled 2,000 gallons a day, which sounds like a lot. But there were many needs. There wasn’t enough water for showers."

The aft battery compartment, festooned with bunks, is where the largest number of enlisted men slept. Betts points out a sleeping area nicknamed Hogan’s Alley, where the ghost of a submariner is said to lurk: "This might seem better because it’s more spacious, but it was very busy and noisy. People were always walking through and yelling in your ears. And it was always hot, because of the cooking in the galley next door."

In the galley, the group learns that the crew (totaling between 70 and 80) ate in shifts, getting 10 to 15 minutes for each meal. "The Navy always said that the submariners got the best food," Betts reports. "They loaded six months worth of food before going to sea. Canned goods would be stacked everywhere."

Everyone on a U.S. sub was a volunteer, she adds: "Back then, the Navy offered $30 a month more pay and perks like the good food and free movies. What free movies meant was a projector and a small screen hanging in the galley. You’d see the same movies lots of times in six months at sea."


Submarines like the Razorback carried no doctor or nurse. "If you got sick, you had to get over it, with no more than first-aid supplies," says Betts. "If someone died, they usually threw him into the freezer until they got home."

In the control room — "the place you’ll see the most in submarine movies," she observes — visitors can climb another ladder to peer into the conning tower, where it will be possible to look through the periscope once the hydraulics are operating. She sounds the dive alarm, setting off a braying noise that grabs attention. In full dive mode, the Razorback could be fully submerged in 30 seconds.

A corridor takes the tour past the officers’ quarters, including the captain’s snug private stateroom and the wardroom where they ate. The submarine manufactured its own oxygen, Betts says, "and you could tell it was running out when you’d strike a match and it would immediately go out."

The forward torpedo room held 16 of the Razorback’s 24 torpedoes, twice as many as its aft equivalent. In one corner is the captain’s restroom — the "head" in naval parlance. Toilet waste was flushed into a pressurized tank — not to avoid polluting the ocean, says Betts, but to avoid leaving a trail for any enemy surface ships.

"They’re talking about having me clean out the torpedo tubes, since I’m the smallest guide," she says. "But I don’t think that’s going to be happening." A dead sailor, she mentions, might have been shot from a tube if he’d asked to be buried at sea, or if there was no room for the body in the freezer, or as a diversion along with broken wood to make a pursuing enemy think the submarine had been fatally damaged.

Pointing out the compartment’s bunks, she says that seniority ruled in choosing where to sleep: "The best bunks were known as the Bridal Suite or the Honeymoon Suite. Some sailors actually slept right on the torpedoes. I don’t know why. Maybe they were so tired, they didn’t care."

And if the notion of snuggling up to a bundle of high explosives seems at least a bit loony, Betts offers this thought: "If the torpedoes exploded, everybody on the submarine was going to go anyway. You’d just be the first ones."

TOUR INFORMATION The USS Razorback submarine, located just east of the Main Street Bridge beyond the Arkansas River flood wall in North Little Rock, is open for public tours 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 1-6 p.m. Sundays. Adult admission is $5. It’s $3 for children 5 to 12, senior citizens 65 and older, and active military personnel. Active or retired submariners can visit for free with proof of service. Touring the submarine requires being able to climb down and up a steep ladder, and to clamber through watertight doors 38 inches high by 20 inches wide. Youngsters under age 5 are not admitted. Admission is free to the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum a bit east of the submarine. The Razorback is expected to be closed for several weeks sometime this fall while improvements are being made in shore facilities. A pending addition to the museum is a second World War II vessel, the tug USS Hoga. Due to be brought here from California, the Hoga is the last operable Navy vessel that was present at Pearl Harbor during the Japanese attack of Dec. 7, 1941. For more information on visiting the USS Razorback, call (501) 371-8320; for group tours of 10 or more persons, call (501) 244-9787.

This story was published Friday, August 26, 2005

Note from AIMM Team: Don't forget the Razorback is closed tomorrow 27 August for a USS Seafox reunion.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

SMOKE- By: Mike Hemming


by Mike Hemming


It's hard to believe for some but there is an aging group of men bound together by smoke. Not the smoke people ordinarily draw into their lungs for a buzz, legal or illegal, but stinky old diesel smoke made by burning hydrocarbons. It's burned in great big old noisy diesel engines designed for railroad locomotives and transplanted into a submarine, of all places.

This smoke binds them together with wispy chains stronger than the finest hardened steel. Men that sit around remembering shipmates and times good and bad, their memories brought to them on grey blue clouds. Clouds of it shot out over ports of the seven seas, on lighting off for going to sea. Underway and across those seas the smoke settles to an efficiency haze, but the diesel smoke smell follows them. The smoke and sounds that shut down when reaching homeport after many days alone at sea.

Today, these old timers travel many miles to see, hear and once more catch that wonderful reminder of their youth. With tears in the eyes of some they lean forward to breathe it in. They take photographs of diesel smoke clouds belching from exhaust pipes of museum piece subs.

Back home they show them to others and post video clips on the internet. Others sit and wait for those clips to download over slow internet connections, just to see that smoke and hear the sound.

It is said that the sense of smell brings back the strongest memories. If so then we are lucky ones, because our smoke is strong and memorable. Along with our smoky chains we have those memories and neither can be removed from our hearts.

Many a submariner says, "One more time, just one more time". For some, that means to go out and make another dive, for others just to hear the roar and to smell that smoke. Me, I'd like to yank a throttle lever, feel the deck plates shudder under my feet, hear the sounds, smell the smoke and be with those that are bound together by these things.

~~ATTENTION- Special Notice~~

The USS Razorback will be closed this coming Saturday, 27 August due to a special event. We hope this doesn't cause you any inconvenience. Please visit here often for other announcements as we get closer to the mooring upgrade plan. Razorback tours will resume as normal on Sunday at 1 PM.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

A Razorback Reunion In the Works

Bob Howard, Don David, Greg Zonner, Bobby Barge and Braye Cloud swap sea stories.
Bob Howard and Don David are in the process of coordinating a "Razorback Sailor" reunion during the 2006 USSVI Convention which is to be held in Little Rock/North Little Rock, Arkansas. We know other sailors have also spoken of this. Bob and Don ask that you email them to begin a dialogue. We also know that LCDR Robert Walls who was Captain Talbert's XO has also expressed interest. Here are their email addresses:
It would be wonderful to see all of the Razorback sailors in one room. An event that will not be soon forgotten.

Taking an Oral History in the Engine Room

Braye Cloud of the North Little Rock Mayor's Office conducts oral interviews of Don David (center) and Bob Howard. Howard is in the engine room where he worked aboard the 394 from 1957 until 1960.

We heard a great story that involved the following items, in no particular order:

1. Bourbon filled fruit cake.
2. Several sailors with a belly full of number 1.
3. A tank. Yes, a real tank, probably a Sherman.
4. Naha, Okinawa.
5. Army MPs.

Perhaps some of those involved might want to fill in the blanks, or perhaps not, although I think the statute of limitations has run out on this particular episode of Navy adventure!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Gauges and a Razorbacker

MM2 (SS) Bobby Barge of Elmer, Louisiana recalled in vivid detail many adventures aboard the Razorback that took place in 1961-62 when he worked in the forward engine room.

Not only did we hear some good stories from sea, we heard some funny ones from some shore leave adventures! Even some about ole Max Bassett who rode the 394 in the 60s and he was the lucky Razorback vet who accompanied her across the Atlantic on her way to North Little Rock.

Max's dispatches from the trip are available at the city of North Little Rock's website, (click on "maritime museum" link).

Thanks Bobby for making our day with some great history about your ole gal. Visit anytime.

MM 1 (SS) Bob Howard Finds His Liberty Pass

Bob Howard, MM1 (SS), who served on the Razorback from '59 until '60 found his old liberty pass on display in the AIMM when he visited.

Howard resides in Walnut Creek, California and was visiting with other former Razorbackers Don David and Bobby Barge.

ET 3 David gives a Sonar Lesson to a Novice

Don David (ET3 SS) sits in his old duty station. David was a sonar operator aboard the USS Razorback from 1958 until 1960. Don also met the 394 in New Orleans a year ago on her trip home. Mr. David said that when he boarded her "forty-four years just vanished and the memories came flooding back." David lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and has visited several times.

The Sonar Man and the Swedes

George Peters (AW2 1983-1987 VP-40 Sonar Operator P-3C Update III), Jonas Hesselgren, Swedish Naval vet and Niclas Hesselgren who served in the Swedish Army in the Kosovo campaign of 2002, stand in the forward torpedo room of the 394. Peters said that trying to track a diesel sub was much like "trying to listen to a flashlight".

The Hesselgren brothers are students and track stars at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Thanks for boarding guys and thanks for all you've done for our country and yours.

A Swedish Navy Cook in the Razorback Galley

Jonas Hesselgren stands in the galley of the USS Razorback. Hesselgren who is a student and track star at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock served as a cook aboard the Swedish Naval Ship HMS VISBORG and was amazed at the size of the 394's kitchen. (Maurice, wonder if he cooked your world famous "sticky buns"? I doubt it.) Jonas was visiting with his brother Niclas and George Peters (see other post) on 20 August 2005.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Sail Gates!

Up in the Sail! From left Walter Gates, Clyde & Sarah Ann Gates and Jim Gates.

Jim Gates went to Guided Missile School classes with Museum Director Greg Zonner in Damn Neck, Va. and Sub School in CT. He introduced Greg to his wife Bonnie. Gates served aboard the USS James K. Polk (SSBN 645). Jim Gates lives in Haltom City, Texas and the rest reside in Little Rock. Thanks for dropping by...

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

An Absolutely Wonderful Photo--

Isn't this a great photo? It came from Reuters. It makes us long for a break from these 100 degree days. But now, the most beautiful time of the year in Arkansas is fast approaching. Fall-- Cool Temperatures-- Beautiful Foliage...Plan a trip for a visit!

Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum Announces an Expert Panel

Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum Announces an Expert Panel

A panel of scientists has agreed to assist the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum’s planning for their Beacon of Peace and Hope funded by a contribution from WAND. Approval has been received from the FAA. Now the scientific panel will begin their work.

Tom Foti, Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission staff; Ken Smith, Arkansas Audubon Director and Bill Shepard, retired Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission staff, have agreed to conduct a site visit, survey the literature and assist in operational recommendations for the Beacon of Peace and Hope.

Greg Zonner, Executive Director of AIMM, said, “I am very pleased to have this level of scientific expertise to guide us. This is an important symbol for all of us and to have the operational policy created in a way to least impact migrating birds is highly positive. Additionally, we will establish a monitoring program that will permit us to adjust operations long-term if needed.”

Tom Foti has indicated that weather, time lights are on, the time of year, and the color of light all have the potential to affect migrating birds. These and other factors will be given consideration in establishing an operating plan for the Beacon of Peace and Hope.

Anyone wishing to contribute to the Beacon of Peace and Hope may do so. Your checks should be made payable to AIMM and mailed to WAND, c/o Caroline Stevenson, 5125 Stonewall Road, Little Rock, Arkansas 72207.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Admiral "Stewburner" Aboard the 394 in the 60s

Here is a photo of Razorback sailor Maurice Barksdale enjoying some fresh air after a long patrol. Maurice was a cook aboard the 394. See the July 13 entry below for Maurice's story from his SS days as well as a current photo of him the day he saw the Razorback come around a bend in the Mississippi River on her trip home last year.

If you have photos of yourself from your days aboard the Razorback, please send them along with a short description of your service and we will try to get them posted for all to see. Be sure to include a "then and now" photo if you can. The AIMM Team

Monday, August 15, 2005

More On the Hoga from the Oakland Tribune

Old city fireboat goes to museum
Vessel stationed in Oakland after heroic service at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7


Sixty-three years after surviving the attack on Pearl Harbor, the ol' Hoga is ready for one last chug.

The firefighting tugboat with a storied past that includes a heroic role in World War II and more than four decades of service to Oakland will cruise into a dignified retirement later this summer, as Navy officials have agreed to donate the historic vessel to the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum.

Navy Secretary Gordon England said the boat would "serve as a testament to the unrelenting courage and fierce determination exhibited by Hoga's crew during the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941."

The 100-foot, 325-ton harbor tug was built for the U.S. Navy in 1940 by Consolidated Shipbuilding of Morris Heights, N.Y., according to the National Park Service's Maritime Heritage Program. It was constructed entirely of welded steel, and its name, Hoga, is derived from the Sioux Indian word for fish.

Hoga sailed through the Panama Canal to California's naval bases and was soon assigned to Hawaii's Pearl Harbor. On the morning of the Japanese attack, 10 of its 11-man crew were aboard, and within minutes of the attack, the hearty tug went to work rescuing the besieged U.S. fleet.

The Hoga fought fires on the USS battleships Nevada, Arizona, Tennessee and Maryland, while rescuing sailors and moving other ships to safety under a hail of Japanese bombs. For their mettle, the tug and its brave crew received a commendation from Admiral Chester A. Nimitz in February1942. After the war, Oakland leased the Hoga from the Navy in 1948 to deploy its first municipal fireboat.

The tug's water-pumping capacity was increased from 4,000 gallons per minute to 10,000 gallons per minute, and its name was changed, first to Port of Oakland and again, later, to City of Oakland.

A day after its formal commmissioning in Oakland, the fireboat helped extinguish a blaze on the freighter Hawaiian Rancher, and it went on to 45-year career of service for the city and port.
Hoga was designated a national landmark in June 1989 and was returned to the U.S. Navy in 1993. When it was stricken from the Naval Register in 1996, it was the last remaining naval vessel afloat that had seen action at Pearl Harbor.

For years, the venerable tug gathered barnacles and rust with the rest of the Navy's Maritime Administration "mothball" fleet in Suisun Bay.

But under the new arrangement with the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum, Hoga's four massive diesel and electric engines will roar to life again.

The boat will transit through the Panama Canal, as it did more than 60 years before, then follow a course up the Mississippi and Arkansas rivers. The museum will moor the vessel alongside the historic submarine Razorback in North Little Rock, Ark.

Hoga is expected to be open to the public by the end of the year, the Navy said.

Chicago Tribune Reports on Chinese Submarine Build-up

Pentagon Report Warns Of China's Growing Submarine Fleet

Chicago Tribune, 10 Aug 05

Little noticed by the public, a just-released Pentagon report to Congress carries a strong warning that China's rapidly expanding and improving submarine fleet poses a mounting military threat to the United States.

The end of the Cold War left the United States the world's supreme naval power, and the Pentagon, occupied with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, has shifted its priorities away from seaborne threats in recent years.

The Pentagon has even diverted components of its anti-submarine warfare arm to other purposes.

China, though still well behind the United States in terms of the strength of its submarine fleet, has turned to an undersea vessel that American planners had considered largely obsolete - the diesel-electric attack submarine - to boost its arsenal. And it is equipping its submarines with new technology from Germany and elsewhere to make the craft harder to detect and more lethal than ever before.

Experts predict that China's submarine fleet will substantially outnumber that of the United States within the next 15 years.

As the Pentagon report, delivered to Congress last month, says, the new Chinese navy is a force designed mostly to prevent or dissuade the United States from intervening in any future conflict between China and Taiwan. But it also is giving China the capability of menacing Japan and striking U.S. cities with submarine-launched nuclear missiles from far out in the Pacific."China is in the midst of perhaps the largest military buildup the world has witnessed since the end of the Cold War," Richard Fisher, vice president of Washington's International Assessment and Strategy Center, a national security think tank, said at a recent hearing of the House Armed Services Committee.

John Tkacik Jr., a senior research fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, raised a similar alarm.

"China's ambitious weapons modernization and reforms in military doctrine are aimed at promoting vast increases in its comprehensive national power," Tkacik told the House committee. He said the Pentagon report is "a wake-up call to the administration, to Congress, to the Taiwan government and to our friends and allies in the Asia-Pacific region that ... China stands poised to assert itself as the pre-eminent power in the Asia-Pacific region."

China appears to be strengthening all branches of its military - improving training and weaponry for its huge army, increasing its short- and long-range ballistic missiles, adding new aircraft and precision munitions to its air force and developing unmanned aircraft, the report said.But submarines have become a high priority. China has about 64 surface warships in its navy and 55 or more attack submarines, designed for use against enemy surface ships and submarines as well as ground targets.

These not only include its current Song-class sub, armed with anti-ship cruise missiles that can be launched underwater, but a new Yuan diesel-electric attack sub as well. China also is expected to introduce a nuclear attack submarine this year and has bought four highly capable Russian Kilo-class attack submarines with eight more on order from the Russian military.In contrast, Taiwan has just 27 surface warships and four submarines.

The United States has a fleet of 59 attack submarines of all classes but, as experts have noted, has commitments for them all over the world.

At current attrition and replacement rates, the experts estimate the U.S. attack fleet will be down to 40 submarines or fewer within the next 15 years, while China expands its fleet by perhaps as many as 35 modern subs.

Another great leap forward in Chinese attack submarine capability has been the introduction of "air-independent propulsion," or AIP, technology to its attack force.

According to Lt. Cmdr. Bill Murray, a veteran submarine officer now serving as an associate professor at the U.S. Naval War College, AIP technology has transformed the diesel-electric sub into an ultrastealthy, state-of-the-art ship-killing weapon.

Nuclear subs are quieter than diesels, but attack subs running on batteries are quieter still."When they're on battery, they're incredibly difficult to find," Murray said. "So, unless you know where they are, they could be anywhere, which complicates the United States' or any opposing navy's ability to operate on the surface."

According to Lyle Goldstein, another Naval War College expert, diesel-electric subs have been able to operate for only two or three days on batteries, having to resurface to recharge them. With AIP, the submarine carries its own air supply, as it might extra fuel, and can recharge its batteries while deep underwater and stay submerged for two or more weeks."I don't think anybody really knows how far the Chinese are along with it, but we've found some very disturbing signs," Goldstein said.

According to Goldstein and Murray, the Chinese acquired much of its AIP technology from Germany. They emphasized that their assessments are their own and not official views of the Naval War College or the Navy.

All American submarines are nuclear; the Navy has no diesel-electric attack craft. Last fall, the Swedish government leased the Navy the use of one of its AIP-equipped diesel-electric vessels and crew so American anti-submarine warfare forces could train against the wider-ranging submarine tactics AIP makes possible.

As the Pentagon report on China observed, the United States has emphasized capability over quantity in maintaining its submarine fleet. But numbers give the Chinese certain advantages."Numbers matter," Murray said. "The Chinese obviously believe that numbers matter because they're turning out submarines like sausages. The Chinese are definitely on the winning end of an arms race."

Though the collapse of the Soviet Union decreased the need for the nuclear submarine as a globally deployed, second-strike nuclear deterrent, the U.S. underwater fleet still is spread worldwide as part of a strategy of projecting force on all oceans and major seas. That mission includes protection of the United States' wide-ranging carrier battle groups.

China is showing its new emphasis in other ways. It traditionally has been so focused on its army and ground warfare that for decades it had army generals commanding both its air force and navy. The new navy commander, Zhang Dingfa, is a navy admiral and veteran submarine officer.

Alarm over the Chinese buildup is spreading on Capitol Hill. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., argued that this was no time to cut back the size of the U.S. attack sub fleet or to close the Navy submarine base at Groton, Conn., as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has recommended.

"The best anti-submarine weapon is another submarine," Hunter said.

The Pentagon report on Chinese military power assessed its submarine buildup as part of a coercive effort to persuade Taiwan that "the price of declaring independence is too high" and that naval action against Taiwan might include a blockade or outright attack.

"They want to deter us from interfering if they feel they have to use force to deter Taiwan (from independence), raising the potential cost (in sunk ships and casualties) of U.S. intervention to such a high degree that they think we will calculate we can't defend Taiwan without paying an exorbitant cost," Murray said.

Although Rumsfeld has raised concerns about China's military buildup, he has continued to state publicly that he believes the Taiwan dispute will be settled through peaceful negotiation."Our position with respect to Taiwan and the People's Republic of China hasn't changed in years," he said at a news briefing last month. "Our view is that whatever changes are to be made in that connection should be made on a peaceful basis by both countries."

"You judge military threat in two ways," said Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, who becomes chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff next month. "There're lots of countries in the world that have the capacity to wage war. Very few have the intent to do so. And clearly, we have a complex but good relationship with China. So there's absolutely no reason for us to believe there's any intent on their part."

"On the contrary," said Tkacik, the Heritage Foundation fellow. "The Pentagon report shows that there is every reason to believe that China intends either to coerce Taiwan or to attack it. There is no third option."

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Razorback Deck Log - 14 August 1945

14 August

0110 - Received ComSubsPacAdComd message giving station for Liberator strike and Mitchell anti-shipping sweep for today.

0700 - Submerged

1100 - Surfaced on lifeguard station.

1200 - Position: Lat. 50-29N, Long. 157-25E

2157 - Received ComSubsPacAdComd message giving station for tomorrow's Navy plane mission.

Friday, August 12, 2005

The What and Where Game aka Qual Game

Picture One
Picture Two
Picture three
Picture four

What and wear are they? Hint, they're all on the Razorback! Click on comments below and leave your guess.



Beacons, Wands and a Great Idea- From the Arkansas Times

Wand Women: Building beacon. Cindy Brown and Caroline Stevenson- WAND Leaders

A beaming monument

Beacon of Peace and Hope to join Maritime Museum.

Jennifer Barnett Reed Updated: 8/11/2005

War and peace are supposed to be diametrical opposites. In a little less than five months, though, if everything goes well, the two will come together on North Little Rock’s downtown riverfront.
The Beacon of Peace and Hope, a commemorative 36-foot-tower that will shine two spotlights into the sky, will stand next to the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum. The board — the folks who watch over the U.S.S. Razorback submarine — came up with the idea, but it’s being carried out by Women’s Action for New Directions, an organization that advocates for peace.
WAND agreed to raise the $150,000 estimated cost of the monument, and is about one-third of the way to that goal.“The idea was that everything these people have done to secure our freedom and every time they have put themselves at risk has been in the hope that peace and hope are secured for this nation,” said Rose Crane, a development consultant for the museum.
Caroline Stevenson, a WAND board member who’s chairing the monument committee, said the organization’s board thought long and hard about collaborating with the museum, but talking with some of the veteran submariners on the museum’s board helped convince them to do it.
“They were really adamant that no one wanted peace more than people who were in submarines,” she said. “They had children and grandchildren and war was the last thing they wanted.”
The partnership — and the location of a peace monument in front of an instrument of war — makes the Beacon of Peace and Hope unique, Stevenson said. “One of the things that’s exciting about it is being able to have these conversations about how we coexist and how we support one another,” she said. The partnership between WAND and the maritime museum won’t end once the monument is finished. The contract between WAND and the maritime museum calls for a WAND member to sit on the museum’s board in the future, and for the organization to be able to hold two or three peace observances at the museum each year.
Cindy Brown, a WAND member who’s also on the monument committee, said she’s wanted something like the planned beacon in this area since seeing two peace-focused structures in Fayetteville.“They center thoughts of peace, form a magnet for those ideas,” she said. “I want there to be one in Central Arkansas really bad.”
Stevenson said her goal is to raise the rest of the $150,000 by the end of September, and hopes that people will see a contribution to the beacon as a suitable way to honor loved ones who’ve served in the military. If construction goes as planned, the beacon should be shining by December.
Each light is in the millions of candlepower, said Jerry Currence, the North Little Rock architect who designed the beacon. That’s so bright the project’s organizers had to get permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to shine them into the sky, and the monument will appear on future aviation maps of the area, Crane said.
The narrow steel tower will rise from the ground just in front of the submarine. Two curved arms will come out of the tower to support the two spotlights. On most nights, they’ll appear to shine up in parallel paths, but under certain atmospheric conditions, the beams will appear to converge.
“The idea that we can look and see it in the night sky, see if peace and hope have come together over our community — I think that’s a nice thing to think about,” Crane said.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Greg Zonner and Shorty Hagerman on the World Wide Web with Pat Lynch

This morning Museum Director Greg Zonner and AIMM volunteer Herman "Shorty" Hagerman (served on the USS Lexington in WW 2) appeared on the WAI Radio "Pat Classic" program for an hour. It was a fun show. You can click on the title of this message to go to the WAI Radio archive and then click on the 8-11-05 show archive to hear it. You can also download the show for later listening. You can also get to the station by going to

NLR Veterinarian Pronounces the Razorback- "Awesome!"

Dr. and Mrs. Richard Allen, DVM, of North Little Rock chat with Greg Zonner
Prominent North Little Rock veterinarian Richard Allen brought his family to visit the USS Razorback today. Dr. Allen said that the boat was "awesome" and it gave him a new appreciation of the job the sailors did for us. After his tour he spent time chatting with Greg Zonner, Museum Director, about the ins and outs of taking care of the "fleet". Thanks for touring Doc!

Razorback Deck Log- 11 August 1945

11 August

0530 Submerged

1200 Position: Lat. 50-10 N., Long. 156-18 E.

1303 OOD sighted two buoys with staff and pennants on the starboard beam, distant 1000 yards; went deep.

1306 At 70 feet heard rattling and tapping on conning tower similarto light metal weights being dragged over it; noise stopped as we went to 100 feet.

1300 (SIC) At periscope depth counted five similar buoys in vicinity astern. We undoubtedly had a tilt with a Jap drift net.

2000 Surfaced with about 100 square feet of net (and two good sized but unedible fish) draped over periscope shears.

2137 Received ComSubsPac permanent change to Polar Circuit voice frequency for lifeguard.

2351 Received ComSubsPacAdComd message of strike for tomorrow plus information on surface operations in this vicinity.

This will conclude this series of deck log entries. We will do more of this from time to time. AIMM Team

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Razorback Deck Log- 10 August 1945

10 August

0830 Submerged.

1200 Position: Lat. 50-32 N, Long. 157-13 E.

2005 Surfaced.

2200 Phosphorescence in this location is exceeded only by that we encountered in the KII SUIDO last patrol. Here a halo surrounds the ship on all bearings for a distance of 100 yards in addition to the extremely bright wake.

11 August (will be posted tomorrow)

See a Sub, Watch some Baseball and Have a Great Time

North Little Rock voters issued a clear mandate that they approved of Mayor Patrick Hays' plan for downtown North Little Rock by voting for a one-cent sales tax that will go towards a brand new baseball stadium for the Arkansas Travelers baseball club. Construction will start in October and word is "play ball" will be heard at the opening of the 2007 season.

This ball field will be within walking distance of the USS Razorback and USS Hoga of the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum.

Great job Mayor, we're all proud to be part of a great, friendly and progressive city led by a wise group of visionaries. Come visit us!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Razorback Deck Log- 9 August 1945

9 August

0215 Ran into a dense cloud of volcanic ash. Visibility reduced to zero, odor of sulphur gases noted in the boat.

0321 Received ComSubsPacAdComd message stating no strikes for today.

0335 Submerged to patrol off southern tip of PARAMUSHIRO.

1200 Position: Lat. 49-53 N, Long. 155-24 E.

1507 Steady, heavy interference on JK bearing 300 degreesT. Believe this was disturbance from active volcano on same bearing. It persisted for two hours.

2030 Surfaced.

"RUSSIA DECLARES WAR ON JAPAN", came through the boat like wildfire from crew members gathered around the RBO. We no longer wonder at the high concentration of RUSSIAN ships we encountered on 31 July and 3 August. This news coupled with the announcement of the atomic bomb is indeed encouraging.

2155 Received ComSubsPacAdComd message stating no strikes for tomorrow.

Our submarine patrol zone for the next few days is a mighty small "piece of pie" on the chart. Hope sincerely that ComNorPac has favorable weather for strikes during the coming week.

10 August (will be posted tomorrow)

Monday, August 08, 2005

One of Arkansas' Finest Goes Below

Arkansas State Police Trooper Tim Ryals prepares to check out the Forward Torpedo Room of the 394 recently.

Many of our friends in law enforcement have dropped by to visit. We appreciate all they do.

Please take a look at the proposed Beacon of Peace and Hope and related information. AIMM and the City of North Little Rock is excited to be particpating in this part of our project. Thanks to WAND for spearheading and offering support.

Razorback Deck Log- 8 August 1945

8 August

In absence of further instructions, am not sure whether we should relieve the KINGFISH on her present station or patrol where we can reach any station in the least amount of time. Have decided to do the latter. ONEKOTAN KAIKYO appears to be the most central position for likely assignments.

0153 Received ComSubsPadAdComd message stating there would be anti-shipping strikeds today. Since no specific station was assigned, headed for "Able" which has been assigned for all previous strikes covered by our predecessors.

0707 Lookout sighted unidentified single-engine fighter-type aircraft bearing 090 degreesT, range four miles; dived.

0806 Surfaced.

0825 Received ComSubsPacAdComd message with full information including assignment of "Able" as our station, so we are where we ought to be and somewhat relieved.

1032 SD contact on two aircraft, range 17 miles. They did not close.

1055 SD contact on two aircraft, range 20 miles; they colsed to 12 miles, then opened until lost.

1125 SD contact on one aircraft, range 17 miles; it did not close.

1200 Position: Lat. 50-28 N, Long. 157-20 E.

1210 SD contact on one aircraft, range 12 miles; it did not close.

1240 Sighted fishing buoy with staff and pennant bearing 285 degreesT distant 1000 yards.

1305 Sighted twin-engine aircraft similar to LORNA bearing 045 degreesT, distant 4 miles; dived.

1338 Surfaced.

1600 It looks as though all missions for today have been successful. Submerged to routine radar.

2147 Surfaced.

9 August (will be posted tomorrow)

Sunday, August 07, 2005

A Day in the Museum along the north shore of the Arkansas River-

Derek Dennison of Nixa, MO tries out a Turkish Naval Cap in the Maritime Museum while he was visiting with his family on Saturday and Chief David Farmer USN (ret), an AIMM volunteer spiffs up the last Turkish boat commander's dress uniform for display. The enlisted man's uniform was found in one of the lockers aboard the 394 and the last Muratreis Captain, Gurbuz Urgan very graciously supplied AIMM his uniform for exhibition.

The Museum building is open and telling the story of the Razorback/Muratreis and will soon have the USS Hoga's story detailed as well. Please drop by for a walk through history. 501-371-8320 for more information.

Razorback Deck Log- 7 August 1945

7 August

1145 SJ lobing motor is an open circuit.

1200 Position: Lat. 49-38 N, Long. 152-25 E.

1545 SJ lobing motor replaced with spare; operation satisfactory.

1632 Made trim dive; surfaced at 1705.

2054 SJ radar contact bearing 090 degrees T, distant 3250 yards- intermittent; evaded.

2130 Personnel in forward torpedo room and forward battery reported object striking port forward section of hull

8 August (will be posted tomorrow)

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Razorback Deck Log- 6 August 1945

Note from AIMM Team- 60 years ago today, the United States dropped the first atom bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. Over the next several days, we will be publishing from the USS Razorback deck logs which until recently had been classified. Please remember our veterans and service men and women as well as those whose lives were lost whether in the military or civilian.

6 August

0158 Acknowledged lifeguard assignment and reported patrol results to ComSubsPac. (Razorback One)

1200 Position: Lat. 47-44 N, Long. 145-30 E.

1300 Submerged to routine SD and SJ radars.

1341 Surfaced.
Sighted numerous seals throughout the day. The Japs have them trained to look like suitcases; lifejackets, periscopes and many other items.

7 August (will be posted tomorrow)

One of Our Heroes and Supporters- Dub Bentley

Wilbur C. (Dub) Bentley
Of Little Rock, Arkansas (1944)

"I graduated from high school, joined the Navy and got married in 1944, when I was 17 years old. I was 17 years old when (this picture was taken.) After boot camp and service school I was sent to Hawaii for assignment. I wanted to be assigned to a ship, any ship, so bad I could taste it. But, I was not to be so blessed.

I was assigned to Logistic Support Company which was coming through from Camp Pendleton, a Marine Training Base, where they had received 8 weeks of infantry training. They headed for Okinawa but did not know it. When we arrived, I was assigned to operate a flat, steel pontoon barge which was not bad. I was to transport men and supplies to and from the ships in Buckner Bay. I had one man assigned to help me. I was there when the A bombs were dropped and when the Japanese surrendered on September 2, 1945.

My duties did not change at all after the surrender until October 8, 1945. On that date, Okinawa was hit by a devastating typhoon that sunk or damaged hundreds of ships in Buckner Bay. My barge was tossed about like a cork for hours and was found about 100 yards inland after the typhoon subsided. "

From The AIMM Team: Wilbur "Dub" Bentley is a local resident and big supporter of the Maritime Museum Project. The above is Dub's naval history. He went on to become a JAG officer in the Air Force and ultimately became the long time prosecutor in the 6th Judicial District of Arkansas which encompasses Pulaski and and Perry Counties. While he never served on a submarine, we consider Dub a great friend and like many others who served during WW 2, we consider him a true hero. Thanks Dub and we wish you well and a speedy recovery from your illness.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Guess The Place On The Razorback

Here's a great photo sent to AIMM which shows a sailor hard at work aboard the 394. Can you guess the job and approximate year in which this submariner appears? Just click on "comments" to leave your thoughts. We very much appreciate all of those who have sent in this sort of artifact and other keepsakes as well.

Of Turkey, Subs and Tugs and Mayors

Mayor Patrick H. Hays (left) of North Little Rock shows Mayor Yusuf Ziya Yilmaz of Samsun, Turkey a painting and model of the USS Hoga which will be joining the USS Razorback/TCG Muratreis at the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum at North Little Rock. The Razorback/Muratreis served both the United States Navy and the Turkish Navy.

Mayor Yilmaz and his wife were visiting North Little Rock to establish a sister city relationship. Mayor Hays has visited Samsun on a couple of occasions and is excited about the relationship that has blossomed between our city and the country of Turkey.

Come to visit the Maritime Museum Building for more information about the Razorback and its service in Turkey as well as her rich history in the US Navy.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Museum Dreams- NLR TIMES

Historic Vessels Attract Tourist Dollars
NLR Times July 28, 2005

There can’t be too many senior citizens in the area who attract more attention on a day-to-day basis than the one that stands smack in the middle of North Little Rock’s rejuvenating waterfront.

The 61-year-old U.S.S. Razorback submarine, commissioned in 1944 and a veteran of World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars as well as the Cold War, now graces that waterfront as the centerpiece of the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum (AIMM), where she is attracting 250 visitors every day that she’s open for tours.

Since arriving last year after a 6,500-mile journey from Turkey, the submarine has proven a magnet for many veterans and visitors.

And North Little Rock Mayor Pat Hays plans for it to become even more of a tourist attraction as the Maritime Museum evolves from its current state of a building, an old towboat and a few barges on the river to a full-fledged museum complex.

Of course, there’s the matter of the proposed $15 million price tag…but the entire museum is still very much in the conceptual stage, and its final form (not to mention cost) has not settled yet.

Still, much progress has been made this past year to shape this attraction on the riverfront, near the Interstate 30 bridge and the boat ramp. The Razorback tied up alongside the Patriot towboat—a former river vessel that most recently was Gator’s Barge and Grill—which is being converted for use by the museum; several city-owned barges will also serve in various capacities, from docking access to party facilities. And the former lodge of the Local 35 of the International Association of Firefighters currently holds many of the museum’s display items.

The arrival of the submarine has meant considerable work not only for the people who reconditioned the barges and made the Razorback ready for the public—both city crews and a large force of volunteers, many of them retired submariners and even some former razorback crewman—but also for the city’s History Commission.

Charged with cataloging the incredible array of American and Turkish military paraphernalia removed from the vessel, City Historian Sandra Taylor Smith filled much of the storage space in the commission’s headquarters at 506 Main St. with boxes of documents and artifacts.

In order to hasten the day a new museum can actually be constructed, the city has created a Maritime Museum nonprofit that has been soliciting donations. Nearly $1 million had been raised earlier this year, with donations from more than 1,000 people—not counting the unknown number of folks who’ve dropped money into the donation box at the museum itself.

Still the museum remains very much a project tied to the city, with North Little Rock officials holding most of the seats on the nonprofit’s board. And Mayor Pat Hays is still very much the project’s most enthusiastic cheerleader.

Later this year, the retired military tugboat U.S.S. Hoga, which helped fight fires and rescue sailors during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor is expected to arrive and join the “North Little Rock Navy.”

The city has also started a weblog, or “blog,” for the Maritime Museum, so people who are interested can post their observations or memories about the vessels there. This blog is viewable at

Monday, August 01, 2005

The Arkansas Queen is Steaming to NLR- due in 2006

Click on the title of this message or go to to see the paddlewheel dinner and cruise boat that will be coming soon to North Little Rock's North Shore Maritime Center (pictured). There is also cruise and dinner information available on their site. The Queen will be moored off the bow of the USS Razorback.