Saturday, August 28, 2010

New Digitial Artifact - 1950s Blueprints

Recently, AIMM received a set of digital blueprints. These blueprints were originally created in the 1950s to support the GUPPY program. They detail the extensive modification work done to the submarines (like Razorback) that were selected for the GUPPY IIA phase of the program.

In 1955, the blueprints were placed on microfilm.

Eventually, the microfilm was declassified and turned over to the National Archives to be made available to researchers. The Historic Naval Ship's Association (HNSA) had the microfilm digitized. Each frame was converted to a JPG file. In total, there are approximately 8,000 individual image files. We are in the process of creating an electronic, searchable index to these blueprints. This index will be posted on the AIMM website.

Besides Razorback, a number of other submarines are covered in these blueprints, including:

SS-382 (USS Picuda)
SS-385 (USS Balao)
SS-391 (USS Pomfret)
SS-396 (USS Ronquil)
SS-402 (USS Sea Fox)
SS-410 (USS Threadfin)
SS-415 (USS Stickleback)

The images above are just a small sample of what is in this treasure trove.

AIMM would like to thank HNSA for sharing these files with us.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

How Tough Were U.S. Submarines? Darn Tough!!

USS Salmon (SS-182) was designed in February 1935, nearly seven years before World War II started. Her test depth was only 250 feet, little more than half of Razorback's.

On the night of 30 October, 1944 (just a few weeks after the above photo was taken), Salmon was depth charged by three Japanese escorts. The first two patterns exploded very close to the submerged submarine, which was already operating beyond her test depth at a depth of 310 feet.

Damage from the attack was so severe that before Salmon could be brought under control, she reached an estimated depth of 620 feet, more than twice her test depth! (The exact depth is unknown because every depth gauge in the submarine had been shattered in the attack). The water pressure was so great that her pressure hull was deformed between frames.

Salmon's crew was able to bring her safely back to the surface and escape from Japanese controlled waters. After temporary repairs, she was sent stateside, where it was determined that she was damaged beyond economical repair and Salmon was decommissioned and scrapped as a war loss.

Source: The Fleet Submarine in the U.S. Navy, CDR John Alden, USN (ret), Naval Institute Press.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph courtesy of the Naval History and Heritage Command.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Link to KTHV Story

The story about Razorback aired on Thursday night, on the 10:00 p.m. news.

If you missed it, the direct link to the story, with the video is here.

The video is over 3 minutes long, which is a very long story for a TV news program.

We would like to thank THV Channel 11 for taking the time to come down and visit us.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

USS Razorback to be Featured on Channel 11 News

Channel 11's feature, Amazed by Arkansas came down on Sunday and toured Razorback. Their tour was given by Paul Honeck, one of our volunteers and a career submariner.

The segment is supposed to air on Thursday night (August 19th) on the 10 p.m. news broadcast.

As soon as a link is available, it will be posted.

(Logo copyright of Channel 11, THV Little Rock)

Monday, August 16, 2010

In Memoriam - USS S-39 (SS-144) - Ran Aground 16 August, 1942

USS S-39 (SS-144) was designed and built immediately after the First World War and was commissioned in 1923. She served with the Asiatic Fleet in the 1920s and 30s. At the start of World War II, she was in Manila, but shifted operations first to Surabaya, Indonesia when the Philippines was threatened, and then ultimately to Australia when it became clear that Indonesia was not safe from Japanese attack and occupation.

Leaving Brisbane on 10 August, 194s, S-39 was to patrol in the area of the Bismark Archipelago, part of Papua New Guinea. On the night of the 13th, she ran hard aground. Throughout the next day, the crew fought to free their trapped submarine, but to no avail. Finally, on the 15th, a call for help was made, and once it was learned that rescue was enroute, the crew began to evacuate the wrecked submarine.

The entire crew was rescued by the Australian minesweeper HMAS Katoomba and were reassigned to other submarines. S-39 was left on the rocks, all her classified equipment removed or destroyed, for the sea to claim.

No known photographs of the wreck exist.

Image courtesy of the U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command, Washington Navy Yard, Washington, DC.

Friday, August 13, 2010

In Memoriam - USS Flier (SS-250) - Sunk 13 August, 1944

USS Flier (SS-250) sank on her 2nd War Patrol when she struck a Japanese mine while transiting the Balabac Strait between the Philippines and Malaysia. She sank immediately, but eight survivors were able to reach shore, and were rescused by USS Redfin (SS-272).

Flier's wreck was located in 330 feet of water in 2009 and confirmed by the Navy earlier this year.

Photograph courtesy of the U.S. Navy History and Heritage Command, Washington Navy Yard, Washington, DC.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

More New Photographs

AIMM just received a generous loan from a former Razorback crewman. William Zwiker was an Engineman aboard Razorback in the late 1960s. He took a number of photographs, both black & white and color, during Razorback's 1968-1969 WESTPAC deployment.

The original photographs are being scanned and will soon be back enroute to Mr. Zwiker.

The entire collection, over 150 photographs will be on the AIMM website as soon as the scanning is done.

Many other photographs are available on the AIMM photo page.

AIMM would like to thank Mr. Zwiker and the many other people who have donated personal photographs or other artifacts and allowed us to share them with our many thousands of visitors.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

USS Razorback - Rescue Submarine

43 years ago today, Razorback reprised the role of "rescue submarine", a role that she played successfully during World War II and again in 1963, when she rescued seven men off of a sunken yacht in the middle of the Pacific.

On the night of 08 August, 1967, Razorback was operating off the California coast, conducting routine ASW (anti-submarine warfare) training. That night, she was training with Bullfrog 28, an S-2E "Tracker" aircraft from VS-41 (Anti-Submarine Squadron 41), just like the aircraft in the photo above.

During the exercise, Razorback's sonar operators picked up unusual sounds. Then, her radiomen were unable to contact the small airplane, so Razorback quickly surfaced.

Despite the poor weather conditions and overcast skies, Razorback quickly located a small life raft with two survivors from the airplane. One Razorback crewmember volunteers to dive into the frigid (48-degree) water and help one of the men who appeared to be having trouble staying afloat.
More information about this rescue, as well as more photographs, are available on the AIMM Website.

AIMM would like to thank the Tailhook Association for locating a high-quality photograph of a S2-E from VS-41, and allowing us to use it.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Picture of Razorback in Seattle

This photograph was spotted by a Arkansas civilian employee with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers while he was on a business trip to the Seattle, Washington area.

It is at a visitor's center for the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Seattle, a complex of locks on the eastern side of Puget Sound that connect the fresh waters of Lake Washington with the salt waters of the Sound.

AIMM would like to thank Aaron McGee of the USACE, Russellville office for bringing this picture to our attention. We are working with the folks up in Seattle to acquire a high-quality copy of the image, as well as to find out anything we can about when the image was taken and the circumstances, and we will post more as we learn it.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

New Photographs Added to Website

Some new photographs have been added to the AIMM website. These photographs were taken by former crewmember Bobby Brittain, who served as a sonarman aboard Razorback from 1961 to 1963.

These pictures show many of Razorback's unique features, including several that were removed.

AIMM would like to thank Bobby and the many other former Razorback sailors who have shared these priceless images with us, so that we can share them with you.

These photographs can be seen here.

Other photographs can be seen on our general photograph page.