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Submarine camping

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I just had a sleep over on the USS Silversides, SS-236 in Muskegon, MI. They do campouts for groups of 15 or more. Sub holds 76 people. I got the captain's quarters (one bunk in the room).

The Silversides saw action in WW2 and was called the Lucky Lady because only 1 man died in all its patrols. Out of all WW2 subs it had the third most tonnage sunk. Out of all SURVIVING WW2 subs it now has the most tonnage sunk at around 91,000 tons.

The sleepover was with chaperones and about 50 kids of junior high age, boys and girls. Both boys and girls talked late into the night.

Due to no bathrooms working on the sub (it's run by a non-profit and sits next to a museum) each chaperone had to do "watch duty" of 1 hour to escort kids off the sub to the museum bathrooms. I stayed up until 2am, I had the 12am-1am watch.

The sleepover had a 1.5 hour tour of the sub with loads of trivia and history. 1.5 hrs was too long for this age but the kids liked all the cool knobs and gauges, and of course the real torpedos (explosives removed I assume).

The engines still run and everyone is invited to the annual Memorial Day engine start. Less and less original crew attends these days. However due to a treaty with Canada (no war ships allowed on Great Lakes) the propellers have been removed. They are 6-7 feet tall each, big brass monsters.

The inside museum has an eating area (we had pizza Fri night), a theater holding 50-60 people (and sever sub-related movies, including one about the Kursk, which we saw), and gift shop. It also has a cutaway torpedo which, oddly enough, ran on steam, which turned the 2 counter rotating props.

The boys sleeping in one torpedo room fired up both neurons and thought, semi-seriously, if they all yelled at once, would the torpedos go off? (No.)

Another odd thing, though the air outside got down to 50F, and water was about the same (sub submerged in water half way), one room got really hot, about 85F. Probably due to insulation aboard the sub.

Another piece of trivia. Due to the configuration of the torpedo loading bay, there was no insulation between the compartment air, and the sub's metal inner chamber, and there was a bunk right under this spot. And so, water constantly condensed and dripped onto this bunk. This was referred to as the "new guy" bunk. The next port the sub went to, if they got another new guy, the current "new guy" was promoted, got a new bunk, and the new "new guy" got the drippy bunk.

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Updated 10-03-2008 at 08:44 AM by bulrush

Camping , History , Ww2


  1. NorthernBaron420's Avatar
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