One Day in Baltimore Harbor - Part 2, Submarine USS Torsk SS-423

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Lightbox (179) Tags: baltimore   maryland   museums   ship   usa Posted: May 10, 2009 by Vassilik

Submarines in the U.S

It turns out that Torsk is not as unique as I though. Below is some interesting information about submarines on display in the United States submitted by one of our users as a feedback to this article: "There are in fact some two dozen submarines on display in the US and open for public tours. USS Torsk in Baltimore is rather unremarkable. Besides USS Pampanito in SF, the most impressive submarines are USS Cod in Cleveland, USS Cobia at the excellent Wisconsin Maritime Museum, USS Silversides in Muskegon, Michigan, the famous USS Nautilus (first nuclear sub and the only nuclear sub on display) in Groton, Connecticut, and USS Growler at the Intrepid museum in New York City, which, because of its location is probably the most visited museum sub. Others are scattered about in such diverse locations as Muskogee, Oklahoma, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Little Rock, Arkansas, and even Hackensack, New Jersey (a tawdry little museum with a fine submarine, alas probably doomed to be scrapped). Anyway, just thought you might want to update your Baltimore entry to mention that Torsk is hardly unique, though certainly worth a visit."

For me, visiting submarine Torsk was a unique and very interesting experience. I strongly recommend that when in Baltimore Inner Harbor, you find time and opportunity to visit it. Indeed, how many submarines, even if decommissioned, are opened to public? I am aware of only one beside Torsk - USS Pampanito(SS-383) located at Pier 45, Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. (See side bar for updated information on this issue).

But it's not only about the uniqueness of this ship-museum. It presents a wonderful opportunity to learn about our history; it's a memorial to those who lost their lives in fighting with evil and to the bravery of all those who decided to serve on submarines. If you do not know, to this day all submariners are volunteers. And I can assure you - no matter what gratitude and respect you have for the sacrifice and courage, this visit will be an eye-opening experience that will make you think and re-think everything you knew about life of the sailors aboard submarines like Torsk.

One practical recommendation - be prepared for crowds of people wishing to visit Torsk. There may be long lines. While on board of the submarine - be patient. The submarine design is very simple; it's just one long corridor between the bow and stern passing through a number of compartments separated by bulkheads (walls) with hatches. So, you will have to wait until people who entered the vessel first will move forward, and this is a slow process. There is a lot to see (and read), and it takes time to look around. There are only two areas on the submarine where there is a bit more space to let visitors who are behind to pass you: the Control Room and Maneuvering Room. Compartments are small; passages are narrow; hatches are really small. If you are uncomfortable with enclosed spaces or claustrophobic, avoid visiting Torsk.

Visitors enter submarine through the opening that leads to the After Torpedo Room (see diagram above). The tour of Torsk continues through various compartments to the Forward Torpedo Room where visitors exit the vessel.

Moving from Pier 2 to Pier 3. Barns & Nobles, the two-story, 35,000 square-foot store is located at Pier 4 in Baltimore's historic Power Plant, is in the background.

View on Lighthship Chesapeake and submarine Torsk. If your intention to visit both, I recommend you start with Torsk. If you travel on weekend, expect long lines.

Submarine Torsk was built at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in 1944. The word Torsk originates from a cod-like fish of North Atlantic waters.

The sail of Torsk - the tower-like structure housing conning tower. In 1951 Torsk was converted to a Snorkel submarine. As a result, its sail was modified to contain the snorkel intake and exhaust masts, periscopes, radar and radio antennas.

On submarine deck - view from stern on sail

On submarine deck - view on stern. As far as I understand, all the guns were removed from Torsk.

This entrance is used by visitors. Looking at old photos, it becomes obvious that this "door" was erected later, perhaps to make visitors' entrance to the vessel easier.

A ladder into the submarine guts. I think there was a hatch here; also, somewhere in this area there should have been an opening to load torpedoes.

After Torpedo Room - that's where you get after entering the submarine. The Mine Table (on the left of the picture) is used for maintenance on torpedoes. There are four torpedo tubes here. In patrol, they will be loaded with torpedoes with six of them more on racks.

Torpedo tube. Torpedoes are fired from the Control Room but can be launched from here as well. What strikes most visitors is the abundance of controls inside a submarine. Controls, switches, wires, dials, manifolds - you name it - are everywhere.

A lot of visitors for a small submarine. Also, After Torpedo Room is very often the most crowded place. I think this is because here visitors get their first impression of the submarine and tend to spend longer time.

New visitors have to wait. That's what happens - people come to the After Torpedo Room; their jaws drop, and until the first awe dissipates people stay in the room staring at everything around them.

A torpedo - MK27, the first of the United States Navy 19-inch (48-cm) submarine-launched torpedoes. The torpedo employed a passive acoustic guidance system and was nicknamed "Cutie."

Crew's head or washroom. There is a bigger one closer to the berthing area

A berth and torpedo. Most of the bunks (36 of them for the crew of 80) are located in the berthing area. However, in the After Torpedo Room there are several more bunks.

Bulkhead between submarine compartments

Maneuvering Room is the propulsion control center. In this location, the electrical power produced by generators rotated by diesel engines is directed to batteries for charging them and electric motors. When submerged, electric motors are powered by batteries to move under water.

A volunteer, one of the crewmen on Torsk

I think these levers are known as 'the Sticks' to control main motors

Various controls in the Maneuvering Room; they are mostly AC and DC distribution panels. On the right side of the photo you can also see a lathe used to manufacture and repair machine parts.

A compartment between the Maneuvering Room and After Engine Room. It contains some electric power equipment behind panels marked with "Danger High Voltage" signs.

Another bulkhead to pass to enter After Engine Room. Look at how these hatches are small.

Starboard side engine in After Engine Room. The connecting rod is in the foreground - weighs about 100 pounds

Crankshaft on one of the main engines. Torsk has four of these Fairbanks Morse model 38D two stroke diesel engines. Each of them has 10 cylinders with two pistons that fire against each other - there are no heads.

Engine controls. Each engine has its own set of controls located next to it on each side of the submarine.

Kleinschmidt Evaporator to make fresh water from sea water

Bulkhead between Forward Engine Room and Crew Washroom and Berthing

Crew Washroom with showers is on the port side (left in photo) and Head (toilets) is on starboard side (right in photo). The head bowls are flashed with seawater and emptied into a sanitary tank. The sanitary tank is normally emptied every day directly to the sea using compressed air.

View on Crew's Head (toilets). One of them is actually operational but for "Authorized personnel only."

Crew Washroom - sinks are on the forward bulkhead (right), with two showers on the left. A washing machine was behind sinks now replaced with a locker

Crew's Berthing area

In the foreground - steel railings around the hatch leading to After Battery Well. All the 126 large batteries were removed from Torsk in 1968.

Crew Mess Room. The Galley is located at the forward end. Large pass-through above the counter top visible on the photo used to hand food to the crew.

Galley: you can see two Hotpoint electric ranges, a deep fat fryer, a sink (against the hull in the background). A mixer and coffee pot are on the left near the entrance

Garbage disposal

Radio Room - although some equipment was removed, the Room is still active with the call NK3ST (close to the original NKST)

View down the starboard passageway into the Control Room. On the starboard (right) side you can see numerous controls: switchboard for power supply to equipment in the Control Room and Conning Tower and high pressure manifold to empty main ballast tanks and distribute air to other systems.

Control Room. On the right of the photo is a switchboard (IC panel) for electric power. Auxiliary steering station is to the left from hatch (in forward bulkhead) leading to Officers Quarters. The chart table is on the left.

View on the plane (bow and stern) controls. The MK-19 Master Gyro is underneath the chart table

The two dials in this photo are depth gauges: the bigger one is for shallow waters (max. 165 feet) and the smaller is for deep waters (max. 600 feet)

Hatch to Conning Tower is blocked

Christmas Tree (hull opening indicator light panel on the left) and the Main Hydraulic Manifold (to open and close the main ballast tank vents)

View forward down the passage in Officers Country. The Forward Battery Room is right below.

Yeoman Office (Shack). Yeoman used to take care of logs, personnel records, supply requests, etc.

Captain's cabin. It looks like captain was the only person on board of Torsk who could enjoy at least a resemblance of privacy.

Executive Officer cabin shared with two other officers

Junior Officers' Quarters

Wardroom. Each of benches can sit three men. On the right there are sliding doors to pass to the Officer's Pantry

Officer's Pantry. Food was brought here from the Galley by a steward and put on the serving trays.

Forward Torpedo Room with six torpedo tubes

One Day in Baltimore Harbor - Part 1, Inner Harbor and USS Constellation
One Day in Baltimore Harbor - Part 2, Submarine USS Torsk SS-423
One Day in Baltimore Harbor - Part 3, Lightship Chesapeake and USCGC Taney
One Day in Baltimore Harbor - Part 4, Walking Inner Harbor

Pages:  1 2 3 4

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