Sunday, May 15, 2011

USS Requin.

As promised, here's a photo tour of USS Requin, (SS-481), which is on display behind the Carnegie Science Museum in Pittsbugh, Pennsylvania.I've tried to describe everything as best I could, but if any old submariners want to correct me or add things I've missed (Keads?), I'll welcome the comments and add material where appropriate.

This is the way that the crew used to enter the hull and the way that I'd like to do so--via the crew hatch into the forward torpedo room.
Sadly, this is the way we enter nowadays: down a stairway through the old torpedo loading hatch.
View of four of the the six bow torpedo tubes that gave the submarine it's bite. The other two are below these. It's all bronze, to resist the corrosive effects of seawater.
One of the bunks in the forward torpedo room. Less than two feet of space above the rack and a nice explosive torpedo directly below it.
The hatch separating the forward torpedo room from the rest of the boat. Immediately through this hatch, going aft, lies officer country, the section of the boat where the officers live.
The smaller kitchen for the officers wardroom. Most of the food was prepared in the galley (aft) and served to the officers from here.
The wardroom, where the boat's officers dined. Quite a bit nicer then the enlisted mess farther aft.
One of the rooms that three officers shared. Barely room for the three bunks, fold-down sink, and small desk with typewriter.
The next five shots were taken in the control room, the large compartment below the conning tower. (The conning tower was off-limits, as it is on most of these boats today, just due to liability reasons owing to the ladder required for access. Here we see the helm (steering wheel), and the gray barrel beside it is a compass.
The "Christmas tree" which contained both a red and green light bulb for every hatch and vent on the boat, telling the status of each of them. Below are some of the controls that open and close the vents needed to dive the boat.
The controls for the stern and bow diving planes. Each of these wheels controlled one set of horizontal planes when the Requin was submerged, directing the sub up or down or just helping maintain an even keel.
These valves control the distribution of high-pressure air through the boat.
So close, yet inaccessible. These switches control the alarms on the boat. At sea, they were used to warn sailors of emergencies. Now, they exist for my amusement and I love to activate them on the boats I tour, just because. Alas, there was a volunteer in the control room who was parked next to these switches, so I had no chance....this time, anyway.Requin's prized possession. An autographed picture of Betty Grable. This hangs in the radio compartment, port side just forward of the galley. Owing to the tight quarters and a plexiglass shield, I couldn't get any pictures of that space.
Galley, where all the food for 85 men was prepared. Seriously.
Crews's Mess. This is where all of the enlisted personnel ate. Just four tables.
George, one of the volunteers aboard. Retired Navy, he has fifteen years worth of sub service stories and listening to him alone was worth the time spent visiting Requin.
Crew quarters. Not exactly a lot of personal space or privacy.
Even underwater, when you gotta go... Requin had four of these for a crew of approximately 85. And one was officers only. Note all the neat valves required to flush with high-pressure air underwater. Get the sequence wrong and you might end up wearing what you just got rid of.

Forward engine room, looking aft towards the hatch to the after engine room, a mirror of this one. Engines to each side are Fairbanks-Morse diesels, originally designed for railway locomotives. Shiny thing to the right of the hatch is a centrifuge that spins the oil free of sea water and other contaminants before feeding it to the engine. Each engine has one. And yes, that's laundry handing above the engine to dry. (Hey, ya gotta do what ya gotta do, right?)
Control panel, No. 1 Engine. ( I tried, but I could not get it to start.)
Engine with top cover removed, exposing crankshaft. (Aft Engine room)
Centrifuge to get sea water out of the boat's lubricating oil.
Maneuvering room, port side view. Here's were all of the electrical energy from the motors is transferred, either to propulsion and ship's use, or into the storage batteries.
Maneuvering room, starboard side, looking forward.
After torpedo room. The tubes and racks were removed in 1946 to put a radar unit back here. That was subsequently removed but the tubes were never put back. It's now a small display room for the Requin.
After torpedo room, looking back forward.

Port side rudder machinery.

Exit, stage up.

Murphy gave Requin two paws up.

For more sub tours, please visit my other articles on the USS Cod and the USS Torsk. Most of the pictures are still visible, but Blogger is apparently slowly eating them and other old post pics one by one.


  1. Why was George in a life vest?

  2. Way cool! Didja try some Pyroil™ quick start spray on the #1 engine? Or was it one of those that has the smart chip embedded in the key?

    The only uniform I ever served in was a BSA Asst. Scoutmaster's. We did a couple of overnighter 'tours' on the USS Lexington CV-16, and one on the USS Texas BB35. I never slept next to a torpedo tube, but my [top] bunk on BB35 was next to a squirrel cage HVAC blower with a failing bearing.

    Would love to tour the subs sometime. Thanks for posting the pics!

  3. "Willkommen auf der¹ Boot!"

    - Murphy

    ¹ I was going to use the indefinite article 'das', but the Babylon translation showed 'der'. I dunno which one is correct.

  4. You covered the old girl pretty well! Outstanding! She did not serve in WWII. Three days before her first war patrol the war ended. In her last deployment in May 1968 she was sent to search for the USS Scorpion, SSN-589. On 20 December 1971 she was stricken from the US Naval Register.

    I did not serve on one of these boats. God bless the ones that did! They took a heavy toll on Japanese shipping that was crucial to resupply the far flung Empire.

    Sea water on lead acid batteries produced chlorine gas. Not a good thing to breathe!

    Great pictures and yeah the Plexiglas sucks when you are trying to take a picture on most all WWII ships or boats!

  5. These are so cool!! My cousin was a CPO on a nuclear sub.

    I just love the silver services in officers' messes on Navy vessels!

  6. Bronze? Wouldn't those torpedo tubes be brass? Bronze would be a bit soft for the long haul, I think.

    I think after about fifteen minutes with the hatches closed I would be taken away screaming in a white vest with wrap-around sleeves and leather buckles.

  7. One other point- The sleeping spaces have NOT gotten significantly bigger on the boats today. Officers are still in triples, and the best bunks are STILL in Forward Torpedo. :-)

  8. I can't get over how spacious the interior is compared to the U-505.

    What a difference ten years made in in fleet sub design...

  9. Really great post!
    The sub I've ever been inside is the U-505, and that was years ago when I lived in the Chicago area.
    Sure beats the dickens out of my lame "Chino Airshow" post!

  10. My recommendation is for the Pampanito Flash/Quicktime tour:
    Pampanito has bronze tubes too. :-)

  11. Oh, and another thing! I am not that old. Yet! I checked out your other posts on the other boats. Love you tweaking the 1MC! Surprised they still work.

  12. @Keads. Surprisingly, they work on most of the boats that I've been aboard. Silversides finally muted theirs after me doing that for years and I was almost pitched off of Lionfish for doing it there. A volunteer on Torsk was not amused, either. The klaxons apparently tend to make people jump and bang their heads on things, but this is funny to me.

  13. I was going to use the indefinite article 'das', but the Babylon translation showed 'der'. I dunno which one is correct.

    Should be auf dem....

    One other point- The sleeping spaces have NOT gotten significantly bigger on the boats today. Officers are still in triples, and the best bunks are STILL in Forward Torpedo. :-)

    Too much noise in the Room - my favourite bunk was in aft berthing. And top bunks are definitely better than middles or bottoms! (Preceding observations based on 13+ years on 688s.)

  14. I used to drive past the Requin when it was tied up in neglect along a downtown Tampa canal. I was a resident there for a short time. Always wanted to go aboard but never did. Now that it has a proper respectful home, I look forward to visiting it.