Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The USS Silversides

In high school, I picked up a book called "Run Silent, Run Deep" by Edward Beach. It was a very well written book and made me interested in submarines. Over the years, I picked up other books by him and was even more interested in submarines. I also played a game called "Silent Service" on my Commodore 64. Over the years, I played other submarine games. This interest has even carried over into U-boats.

In Muskegon, they have a submarine that you can walk on and I remember taking the tour a few years ago. As we were on that side of the state, we decided to take a tour on the USS Silversides (SS-236). Interestingly enough, she was the closest sister ship to the USS Trigger which features so prominently in the Ed Beach books.This is from the USS Silversides (SSN-679) which is her nuclear namesake which has since been decommissioned.
A view through the periscope looking at the river. You can kind of see the bow of the Silversides in this shot.
Looking at the front deck of the Silversides. World War II era submarines had diesel electric propulsion which meant the diesel engines would power the electric motors which in turn propelled the ship. The engines also charged the batteries so that the submarines could spend some time under water. This time was very limited, so submarines spent most of their time on the surface. As a result, they had a fairly normal looking deck. If you were to look between the panels, you could see the tube shaped pressure hull of the sub.
Since submarines spent much of their time on the surface, they needed some anti-aircraft protection. Although rather than duking it out with a plane, they would just submerge as quickly as possible.
Looking back towards the conning tower. The slightly angled thing in the middle of the picture is where torpedos for the forward tubes would be loaded.
This is one of the torpedo tubes in the forward section of the boat. The Silversides was a Gato class submarine and she had 6 forward tube and 4 aft tubes. The aft tubes were slightly longer to clear the propellors and rudders. Fully loaded, she could carry 24 torpedos.
This is one of the showers used on the ship. I remember in the Beach books how the main character would fantasize about putting the designer of the sub in a periscope tube to show just how cramped the shower was.
The captains quarters. These were pretty cramped. The other officers would share a space about this size with another officer.
The control room of the sub.
Looking down at the officer's quarters. A U-boat was even more cramped.
The submarine helm.
The "christmas tree" display board. This would show status of the hatches and valves before diving. When all of the lights were green, the sub could dive safely.
The depth meters.
The crew quarters. Since space was a premium, the enlisted men would use a practice called "hot bunking", where one man would sleep in the same bunk as another as duties shifted.
Looking down the back of the boat.
Looking over the boat from another boat in the museum.
This wasn't part of the boat, but was used for anti-submarine warfare by surface ships. It was called a hedge-hog and would shoot out rockets that would blanket a sub.
This is called the bridge. As I said before, submarines mostly fought on the surface, so this would be used during a surface action.
The periscope and radar unit. Submarines after a successful mission would attach a broom to this unit to indicate they swept the seas.
The 5" deck gun. This was used for ships that were deemed non-threatening to the submarine. It was cheaper to lob shells at another ship than torpedos.
This is the record of the Silversides. The rising sun flags indicate warships sunk. The regular Japanese flags indicate merchant ships sunk. The parachute refers to pilots rescued. The Silversides was the third most successful submarine of the war (after the Tang and Tautog). She received a Presidential Unit Citation and 12 battle stars for her patrols. She sank 23 ships for a total of almost 90,000 tons. She is the most successful sub from World War II still in existence.
A better shot of the conning tower.
A shot of her at her moorings.
I like this shot a little better.


Christopher List said...

I didn't see the hedgehog launcher.

I think you're mistaken about the propulsion. The electric motors were used underwater and the diesels charged the batteries, but the diesels provided the propulsion on the surface. Depending on conditions the number of engines tasked for movement and battery charging could be varied, sometimes with one turning the screws and the other three charging the batteries.

Christopher List said...

After talking to you, I did some research. Seems we're both right after a fashion. You are indeed correct in regards to the Gato class submarines. Submarines from an earlier era used the system I was thinking of.

236483 said...

No hot bunking. Otherwise nice photos.