Toured a WWII submarine

The USS Razorback built in 1944, updated in 1952 and the 1960’s. Sold to the Turks and recently returned to the US as a museum piece. Rather like living in an elevator well. I don’t think John Wayne could really have fit in one of those. During the Cold War there was a nuke in one of the rear torpedo tubes.

SS394, Balao class. During a conversation with the chief electrician from the Becuna (SS319) who served in WWII the statement was made that the Navy actively discouraged tall sailors from sub duty- he was 5’3".

I’ve visited the German U995 that is now a museum ship at Laboe near Kiel.

It’s probably been about 15 years since, so I don’t remember that much about it, except that there wasn’t much space inside. It must be quite difficult to live in a place like that for a prolonged time and especially in a time of war.

USS Bowfin, about 15, 20 years ago. I’d read quite a bit about WWII subs so I knew what to expect.
My wife kept saying how could they live here.

I’ve been to the one they have by the Yorktown. My dad wanted to serve on a sub in Korea but they said he was too tall - no kidding! Dude is 6’3 - had he not seen what those things look like on the inside? He also wanted to be a Seabee but he found out on the test that he was colorblind. He’d never known.

USS Ling, a Gato class moored in the Hackensack River. ‘Cramped’ just isn’t the word for it; the space in the interior was down-right tiny.

I’ve toured the Bowfin twice, and also the U-505 in Chicago. The Bowfin is a luxury liner compared to the U-505. The U-boat bring new meaning to the word cramped.

The USS Cavalla (a Gato class) at Seawolf Park in Galveston. Amazing that men actually went out in the ocean in something that small.

During a Pearl Harbor port visit in my Navy days, I toured the USS Bowfin (SS-287). Being assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN-65), my first thought was “we could carry one of these in the hanger bay!” I don’t think I’m claustrophobic, to me it seems the environmental monotony would difficult to handle; on a carrier there were numerous ways to transit from point A to Point B: port or starboard side, multiple levels, not to mention being able to see the sun or stars (plus on a sub there’s no place to hide when somebody is looking for you).

I got to swim the outside of the U-352 off the NC coast. Does that count? Found some pieces of sub on the sea floor, too.

That’s worth repeating. The US Fleet boats were considered by everyone writing contemporaneously about various sub services, to be extravagant in their crew accommodations, compared to any other fleet’s boats.

And those of you going through these museum boats consider this: When the boat left for patrol, they’d have cases of canned goods lining the decks, to get more supplies into the hull. So, for the first several weeks of the patrol, the deck would be effectively six inches closer to the overhead. i.e. For the purposes of real patrols, the reality was that the boats were even more cramped than you saw.

(I’m not even going to mention sleeping on warshot ordinance.)

The U-505 had (fake) sausages and cheese hanging from the overhead, very similar to what you saw in Das Boot to give you a better idea of what the sailors lived like.

As far as sleeping on a warshot goes, do you recall the scene in Run Silent, Run Deep where the torpedo comes unsecured and crushes the sailor? ::: Shudder:::

I wasn’t thinking of that so much as the whole problem with hot-running torpedoes. During the Cold War the HMS Sidon was sunk at harbor by this malfunction of a torpedo, and that is the official cause of the loss of the Kursk. Something similar is probably to blame of the loss of the USS Scorpion, for all that there is no official verdict on that loss. While there are no claims, that I am aware of, for this sort of loss during WWII, I’ll also suggest that in a war zone, that’s not going to be the first theory people consider for the loss of a boat. Certainly US torpedoes during WWII had a number of guidance, fusing and detonation problems.

Sleeping on a piece of ordinance that might decide it’s been fired, all on its own, and then detonate at the end of the run. I’m not sure I’d have ever been tired enough to sleep well, in those circumstances. ::shudder:

There’s a bunk over the nuke in Razorback.
And she was named after the aquatic mammal, not the Arkansas football team.:slight_smile:

Personally, if I’m sleeping on a piece of ordinance that, if it goes off, will kill me and everyone aboard the boat with me, I don’t see much qualitative difference between the bad vibes of sleeping on a nuke or on a conventional torpedo. :wink:

Besides, I don’t know of any nuclear weapons that have detonated accidentally.
SL-1 was not a weapon. And if the murder/suicide theory is correct, it’s not even an accident.

Cavalla seems to have survived IKE. She took some water in the aft torpedo room though a hatch. The destoryer escort Stewart next to Cavalla now has a five degree list to starbord. Both ship are in an area still with no power and no running water.

For me: USS Lionfish, Balao class, at Fall River, MA, next to the battleship USS *Massachusetts *- apparently the sailors would just get used to the conditions, the guides say, and would often marvel at the waste of space on surface ships.

The U-505 seems luxurious by comparison (YMMV), as does the USS *Nautilus *(what little you can tour, since the reactor area is blocked off), and *Espadon *in St.-Nazaire, France. But at least the nuke subs could be clean - there’s a good reason the diesel subs were nicknamed “pigboats”, and it wasn’t necessarily theor snoutlike bows.

I can’t speak from personal experience for a comparison between U-505 and the sub in Fall River. But nuke boats are hugely luxurious compared to anything from WWII. I never got to tour them, but even the latter diesel-electrics, the USS Barbel class of boats had much more space.
At least part of the reason for the pig boat cognomen was the serious lack of potable water aboard those boats - I can’t recall the exact details, but when I toured the USS Growler at the USS Intrepid museum I made a point of looking for the distilling plant. It was smaller than a 30 gallon trash can, and I think it put out less than 300 gallons of potable water a day. According to Wikipedia she had a crew of 87 officers and men: that’s around 3 gallons of potable water a day per man. Which doesn’t sound like much to begin with. Then consider that hotel loads get the first priority for such water: cooking, dishes, and possibly laundry. (I believe in WWII the laundry was done solely in salt water on all submarines. Doing a final rinse in fresh water kept the clothes from being quite as punishing, and is standard for surface vessels, now. And I believe for modern US subs.) Then there’s the need for some of that water for the poor guys to drink. And only after all that was any fresh water allowed for showers and shaves.

For the most part salt water rinses were the norm. Which can feel like it’s just pushing the dirt around.

IIRC (I’ll try to find the cite later), the batteries had first call on fresh water. Then the cooks, who were the only crew who were encouraged/required to take freshwater showers regularly. For the rest of the crew, saltwater showers only.

I’d love to see the cite if you can find it, but it’s not necessary - I find it very easy to believe that the batteries had first call on water.