When I travel Outside I look for submarine related items and places. I found a memorial to 52 boats outside Las Vegas while visiting my wife’s grandfather’s final resting place in a national cemetery. I also found a few things on my last trip down south.
I went down to Seattle to attend a conference for work. I headed down a day early to see some family in the area. On my way back to Seattle I took the scenic route from Mount Vernon through Whidbey Island to the ferry. It’s the first time I’ve been to sea in awhile. It’s a short ferry ride from Keystone to Port Townsend, around 30 minutes dock to dock. While underway I did get the chance to see a boat pulling back into the area from somewhere. Escorted by two USCG patrol boats the Ohio class boat was crossing our intended course and we got surprisingly close.
I snapped a few pictures and listened to the kids around me chatter excitedly about seeing a real live submarine. That got me thinking about a place I’d heard about for years but being an east coast sailor I had never had the opportunity to visit.
So making my way from PT south I meandered through the area towards my intended destination until I found the Naval Undersea Museum
I didn’t know it existed but when I saw the signs for it, I had to take the detour. Luckily for me they were still open and I had an hour to roam about on a self guided tour. Admission is free but they’ll still take a donation if you’re so minded. They’re closed on Tuesdays if you plan to go. The museum is pretty nice. Outside the facility they have the sail from the USS Sturgeon SSN 637 as well as the entire research vessel Deep Quest and DSV-1 Trieste II. Inside, the ladies who were running the show are very friendly and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask them. They’ll guide you to the start of the exhibits by passing through a door into a room with a timeline on the wall that begins with the myth of Gilgamesh and ends in our modern times. A section dedicated to the
boomer fags SSBN sailors who patrol the seas is next. Sections on oceanography, torpedoes and mines, propulsion, navigation, WWII, diving and others await the intrepid explorer. Interestingly they have the major components of the control room of the USS Greenling SSN 614 in a mockup that visitors can fiddle with. Youngsters can sit at either of the Helmsman/planesman stations, dive & drive and look up at the SCP that is curiously missing a couple of gauges to those who know to look for them. The BCP is there enclosed in plexiglass as well as a few FC consoles, a chart plotter, and two periscopes through which a visitor may view a camera feed from the roof of the building. A fathometer and a MK 27 gyro are there too. It looked like they were working on a few other items for the control room as well though I don’t recall what they were.
There is a Japanese Kaiten midget submarine there as well as a variety of torpedoes and mines from throughout history. In the diving section there are diving suits and bells from early hard hats to current hard suits. There is also a section devoted to women divers and their accomplishments and contributions. A Vietnam era SDV hangs from the ceiling as well. There is also a few displays that honor the sub community’s greatest heroes, those bubbleheads from WWII.
Winding up my time in the museum, I stopped in the gift shop and bought a t-shirt and headed down the road.
Before long I arrived at my next destination.
I'd heard about this place from guys who came to the boat from the west coast and thought I'd go there if I was ever in California. But circumstances being what they were I never made it and the bar moved to Washington not far outside the base at Bangor.
I had a burger and a brew. Bought a t-shirt there as well and looked at the memorabilia lining the bulkheads and overhead. It almost felt like home.
I had to run though and continued on my way to Seattle for the rest of the week.
If I go back I’ll have to bring the family, at least to the museum.
I’ll just bring the wife to the bar.