Monday, December 20, 2010

USS Bowfin Tour

 Touring the USS Bowfin was quite an experience, especially following our tour of the Missouri.  The Bowfin is 312 feet long and 27 feet wide, compared with 887 feet by 108 feet for the USS Missouri.  One interesting fact I forgot to mention on my Missouri post was that the vessel was designed to just fit through the Panama Canal, which it did, with just 11 inches on either side.
 Because a submarine is so compact, every cubic inch of space has to serve a purpose.  This is the forward torpedo room, with bunks for the crew working this area located right over the torpedos.
 The Bowfin completed 9 war patrols in World War II.  What is interesting when you study the early submarine service is how really unreliable torpedoes of this era were - it was not uncommon for the torpedo to detonate prematurely, not detonate at all, or even circle around and come back towards the submarine.

 After touring the whole sub, front to back, I can say the smaller you are the better - not easy getting through those watertight doors for me!
 Again and again the compact spaces contrasted with the huge common areas and hallways on the Missouri.

 This was the captain's quarters, just as tiny as it looked and the only berth with depth and heading gauges right by the foot of the bunk where the captain could see at a glance what was going on at the moment.

 Not sure who keeps all the brass on the sub polished these days, but they did a wonderful job!
 The galley.
 And the dining area.  The benches rolled on tracks mounted in the floor.
 This is a transcript of a handwritten memo the captain posted the night before they passed through the Tsushima Straits.  According to the audio tour we listened to as we went through, the sub did scrape along a mine cable on the way through, but did not contact the mine.  It was pretty compelling to listen to the sound of the mine cable scraping along the hull, imagining what it must have been like for the crew.
 The bunks were hot-seated, with two crew sharing each bunk and working opposite shifts.  The sub carried 10 officers and 70 enlisted men.
 These make fresh water from seawater by boiling and distilling the vapors.
 These are two of the four V-12 diesel engines that powered the Bowfin to speeds over 20 knots on the surface and almost 9 knots submerged.
 The USS Bowfin had 2 - 126 cell Sargo batteries powering 4 GE high-speed electric motors.

 These were the aft torpedo tubes and the last stop below decks before we exited the inside of the sub.
 I was surprised to find out a lot of vessels were sunk not with torpedoes, but with this 4 inch deck gun.
The USS Bowfish was considered a very successful submarine, a model for the rest of the fleet.  The use of submarines is a controversial subject and there were instances where unmarked cargo ships traveling in convoy were attacked and tragically later found to be carrying civilians.  While depth charged many, many times, they were always able to elude destruction and is now owned and operated by the Pacific Fleet Memorial Association.


Bren said...

Glad your still enjoying your trip. Did you see the luna eclipse last night on the winter solace?

Alaska Steve said...

Sis, I didn't see it. I was on the phone with my friend Tim, and he reminded me, but we had some cloud cover. Bummer, because the air is so clear out here, you can really see lots of detail on the moon. Was it cool?

bre said...

not really, the clouds and fog were not making it visible. Too bad, it was a full moon too.