Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Arkansas man recalls sinking of WWII sub

The Associated Press

HONOLULU — Arkansan Robert Lents can remember when the submarine USS Perch, recently discovered in the Java Sea, went down during World War II.

Lents was a 20-year-old torpedo man aboard the Perch when the Japanese attacked and the submarine commander ordered the craft scuttled. Lents and the rest of the crew were taken prisoner.

"I got $35 still in my locker," said Lents, now 85 and living in Mountain Home, Ark. "The only thing I grabbed when I left the ship was my toothbrush, and the Japanese took that away."

The wreckage was discovered Thanksgiving Day, according to the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum, the Star Bulletin reported Sunday. Museum education director Charles Hinman said the 300-foot diesel submarine was found in 190 feet of water by an international team of divers and photographers who were hoping to photograph the wreck of the British cruiser Exeter.

On March 1, 1942, the Perch was on the surface 30 miles northwest of Soerabaja, Java, when it was attacked by an enemy convoy that was landing troops west of Soerabaja. Two Japanese destroyers forced the Perch to the bottom with depth charges, damaging the submarine's starboard engines. Two days later, the Perch was on the surface and unable to dive because of the damage and was attacked by two Japanese cruiser and three destroyers.

The crew of 54 sailors and five officers was taken prisoner by the Japanese. Six later died in prison camps of malnutrition. Lents had only been on the Perch for six months when it was sunk. He spent 3 1/2 years in Japanese prison camps before he was released Sept. 18, 1945.

"There are only five of us left now," Lents told the newspaper last week.

Hinman said a team of divers led by Vidar Skoglie, who owns and operates the vessel MV Empress, found the wreck. Dive team members discovered a plaque, covered with marine growth, that read "USS Perch Submarine."

Hinman said the wreck, like all Navy warships sunk at sea, is protected from salvage operations by U.S. and international laws.

Cmdr. Mike Brown, spokesman for Pacific Fleet Submarine Forces, said the information he's seen indicates that the vessel looks like the Perch. He said it will require official confirmation.

For more information about the discovery of USS Perch, including images of the sunken submarine, visit the USS Perch page.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Another Rainout

Unfortunately, the rain is starting to move in this morning, and with the cold weather, the decks are EXTREMELY slick and dangerous.

So, we will be closed today.

Hopefully, the rain will move through overnight and we will be open tomorrow.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Navy Trivia for Another Day of Bad Weather

It looks like it's going to rain all day Saturday (again) AND it's going to be cold (highs in the 30's), so here's some Trivia questions to hold you over through the nasty weather:

  1. What was the first German submarine sunk by US forces in WWII, and how was it sunk?
  2. What was the first German submarine sunk by US forces in World War One, and how was IT sunk?
  3. What was the only US submarine to sink a battleship in WWII, and which ship did she sink?
  4. David Bushnell is best known for building Turtle, the first submersible to attack an enemy warship (during the Revolutionary War). What was Bushnell's other notable invention?
  5. What was the first major warship sunk by a US submarine in WWII?
  6. Of the 130 Japanese submarines sunk during WWII, approximately how many were sunk by American submarines?
  7. What US submarine is credited with firing the last torpedoes and sinking the last Japanese combatant ships of WWII?
  8. Name the most infamous Razorback crew member (hint - he was a Radioman). Where is he today?
  9. What was the first US submarine to have a stern torpedo tube?
  10. What was the last?
All questions and answers come from Navy Trivia, by Paul E. Kanive, published in 1986, and found in the AIMM Library.

Post answers as comments, or send them to info@aimm.museum for posting.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Another Torpedo Inbound

Greg Zonner, AIMM's executive director, has been working with the staff the Hawthorne Army Depot (the largest ordnance depot in the world) to acquire additional torpdoes to display aboard Razorback.

With the help of the Gyrodyne Helicopter Historical Foundation, we were able to acquire a MK45 torpedo.

However, we still have a lot of hard work ahead of us. The torpedo loading skids need significant repair work, and as you can see, the torpedo is in parts (this is a picture of all of the parts for several MK45s, which will be shared among the many submarine museums):

We don't know when we will pick up the parts, but this is what our torpedo will look like when finished:

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Water, Water, Everywhere!

Even on the gangway!

As you can see, the water was well over the main gangway. The river crested this morning about 9:00 a.m. At its peak the flow was reported at 215,000 Cubic Feet Per SECOND. That's over 6,500 TONS of water per second (if my math is right).

The good news is, the river is falling. By 4:00, the water was below the gangway again.

Also, our mooring system worked beautifully. Inside the barges, there was no feeling of motion at all. The spar poles and mooring lines held everything rock steady.

Monday, January 15, 2007

High Water at AIMM

According to the National Weather Service and Corps of Engineers, the Arkansas River is some 18 feet above normal. It is expected to crest around midnite Monday and hopefully will start subsiding.

We thank you for understanding the necessity to close Razorback to tours during these sorts of weather events. We look forward to seeing you next week-end. Posted by Picasa

From Sliced Bread to Razorback. From the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Man who first used bread slicer turns 92


At the 92nd birthday party for Richard Rohwedder on Saturday, two tables held a wealth of food: cakes, punch, pigs in blankets, chips and dip. But no sliced bread. While normally not a party food, sliced bread seemed a fitting snack at a party for the man who held the first loaf of bread ever sliced by a machine.

“I put the first loaf of bread through the bread slicer,” said Mr. R, as everyone calls him. “That was 1928.” Mr. R was 13 then.

His father, Otto Rohwedder, had worked on a slicing machine for several years before perfecting the device in Iowa. It then gained fame through use at the Chillicothe Baking Company in Chillicothe, Mo. Previously, all bread had come from bakers in whole loaves.

“I was just a youngster,” Mr. R said. “I didn’t know what it really meant. ... Sliced bread was needed.”

That invention went largely forgotten until recent years, when a newspaper editor for the Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune discovered an article on the slicer while doing research for a history book, according to the Web site www.homeofslicedbread.com.

In 2003, the residents of Chillicothe flew Mr. R in from Alexander, where he had moved in 1990. The mayor gave him a framed golden key, emblazoned with the words: “Chillicothe, home of sliced bread.”

But all this attention and fanfare - Mr. R traveled around Missouri in a white stretch limousine - didn’t return with him to Alexander. He never mentioned the accomplishment to his neighbors, and it wasn’t until one of them stumbled upon an article at his house that they became aware of the celebrity in their midst.

“It took me 15 years to figure that one out,” Alexander Mayor Shirley Johnson said. “We have interesting people.”

Mr. R also serviced submarines in the South Pacific during World War II, including working on the USS Razorback, another old secret that his granddaughter revealed at Saturday’s party.

In Alexander, Mr. R is known as a cantankerous but generous and caring neighbor. His other nickname is “old goat.” Bob McKeon, a neighbor, spoke at the party, held at the Alexander Municipal Building, of the troubles Mr. R faced while recovering from heart bypass surgery.

“He’s the only one I’ve ever known that got kicked out of rehab,” McKeon said.

“I can’t say I’m surprised,” said State Rep. Shane Broadway of Bryant, who attended the party. He had been the recipient of many phone calls from Mr. R, demanding funds for community improvement.

Sitting at the front of the room, dressed sharply with a turquoise adorned bolo tie, Mr. R pleaded, “Oh, say something nice.”

Broadway obliged, telling about how he began hearing from Mr. R about 10 years ago as he was trying to get a park built in his neighborhood to give the children of Alexander something to do.
“It was the best thing that happened to the area in some time,” Broadway said. Other neighbors spoke, mentioning how Mr. R would provide food when they weren’t well, or would go out of his way just to check on them.

He’s also known for questioning the judgment of any and every government official. Broadway and Saline County Justice of the Peace J.R. Walters openly wondered who’d received more phone calls from Mr. R.

“We call him the old goat because he’s very, very, very contrary,” McKeon said. Mostly, they said he’s just community-minded. It didn’t surprise any of the crowd of about 20 when Mr. R interrupted his own party to say that the park he helped push into existence now needs a path around it to keep children safer.

Both Alexander and Saline County presented Mr. R with certificates praising his “commitment to the community.” They did not, however, mention his involvement with creating the greatest thing since, maybe, the wheel. And that seemed just fine by Mr. R.

“What is now a park was nothing,” he said. “That was the proudest thing I’ve done here.”

This story was published Sunday, January 14, 2007
Copyright © 2007, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc. All rights reserved.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Weekend Weather Forecast is Bad

If you are planning a visit to Razorback and the new museum, we'd love to see you, but we recommend that you reschedule your visit.

The current weather forecast is calling for HEAVY rain on Saturday (70% chance) into Saturday night, and steady rain on Sunday (60% chance).

The rain causes the decks and especially the ladders to be extremely slick and unsafe.

As much as we would like to be open, your safety is more important to us, and we will be closed if the heavy rain shows up as predicted.

If there is any doubt, please call us at 501-371-8320, or check the blog, before you leave.

We will update the Blog on Friday night as the weather situation becomes more certain...

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Civil War Lecture Series in North Little Rock

The Shepherd's Center at 4400 JFK Blvd in North Little Rock is offering a series of free lectures on the Civil War in Arkansas.

The lectures are each Wednesday, and run from 11:00 to 11:50.

Lecture dates and topics are:

January 17 - Northeast Arkansas in the Summer of 1864
Janaury 31 - Helena on the Mississippi in 1863
February 07 - The River War in Arkansas
February 14 - The Little Rock Campaign of 1863
February 21 - Patrick Cleburn: The Man - Arkansas' Most Famous Confederate General
February 28 - The Lee Girls of Virginia

For more information, please contact the Shepherd's Center directly. The lecture coordinator is George Wing and his phone number is 835-3616.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Submarines from Space

As was posted a few months ago, you can look at Razorback from space using Google Earth.

Most of the other submarine museums are also easily found, but so are a number of modern, active duty submarines.

For example, here is a German Type 206 Submarine in drydock in Kiel, Germany:

Here is a picture of what appears to by an Akula-class (Type 971) nuclear powered Russian attack submarine, in port near Polyarnyy, on the Kola Peninsula.

You can find submarines of almost every nation, including American submarines, if you know where to look... Sometimes, the pictures have been intentionally "blurred", but other times, it's amazing the amount of detail you can see.

E-mail and Spam Filters

In the past week, we have received several e-mails from different people asking for information.

However, when we at AIMM try to respond to these e-mails, we're not able to, because the sender has a 'spam filter' that blocks all e-mail from unfamiliar addresses.

Spam filters are wonderful, absolutley vital tools, but if you use one, please remember to add us to your "safe" list (or whatever your particular spam filter calls it).

Also, please provide an alternative method of contact, such as a a full name and phone number, whenever possible.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Hoga Delayed

Unfortunately, due to the changes in the tug's transit, we were unable to contract with an appropriate crane to lift Hoga aboard the barge.

This will delay Hoga's arrival in Central Arkansas, probably for several months, until a new tug and barge offers to move Hoga at a reasonable price.

We made significant progress in our preparations. The cradles have been designed, approved by the Navy, and built. The cradle parts will be stored for future use, and will save us significant time when the next tow opportunity arises.

The lifting plan has also been approved and the appropriate lifting slings have been purchased. Again, this will save us time in the future.

AIMM is, of course, disappointed that this effort was not successful, but we are not giving up.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Opening Day of the New Section of the Museum

On opening day of the expanded museum barge section of the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum, the Burnett and Hogan families of Conway, Arkansas spent a few minutes learning the history of Razorback. Brian Burnett can be seen in front of the Turkish section of the museum. Razorback spent more years serving in the Turkish Navy as Muratreis than she did as the 394 boat.

We have added over 10 new display cases with exhibits on the battleship USS Arkansas, submarine history, and our continuing exhibit, "This is War!", an original exhibit about the Pearl Harbor attack and some of the ordinary Arkansans who were present that awful day.

In addition, we have expanded the number of Razorback artifacts on display, as well as putting over 25 new photographs and new documents on display for our visitors to enjoy.

Come by and learn more of the history of this amazing piece of US Naval history.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Chalupkas Ahoy!

Jan and Don Chalupka, Sr. of Seabeck, Washington recently visited Razorback with their family. Pictured left to right are Jan and Don, their grandchildren, Zack, Alex and Caroline and Don, Jr. and his wife Stacie, all of Little Rock. Don, Jr. said that his father had worked for the Department of Defense on submarine projects and remembers that when they were growing up his dad could not tell him what he did for a living. Ahhh, secrecy. You gotta love it!

The Chalupkas were treated to a pre-opening look at the newly expanded museum barge which will be open this coming Saturday. Please drop by for a visit.

For information about tours and the museum call 501-371-8320.

Happy New Year to all our visitors.