Laboring Under the Sea

Monday, September 5, 2011

Submarines usually make people think of Memorial Day more than Labor Day. Still, the soldiers and sailors of World War II were laborers, too.

The picture is the USS Silversides submarine, which Roland and I passed as we sailed through the channel at Muskegon, Michigan.* The next morning we walked to its mooring at the Great Lakes Naval Memorial and Museum.

We started in the land part of the museum, where we found equipment from World War II submarines and exhibits on submarine  history. This is the only time during our vacation that I asked Roland to take a picture of me. Here I am as the periscope lady. (And yes, I maintained that sunburn during the entire trip.)

After we were done with the museum building, we boarded the USS Silversides. She is credited with sinking 30 Japanese vessels during World War II and damaging at least 14 others. As you can see from the picture at the top of the post, the submarine was a tight fit for the 80 men who lived and worked on it. Not the place for a claustrophobic sailor.

Nor for someone who is 6'5", as Roland is. This picture shows him entering a hatch. Yes, I said entering. He climbed through it backwards.

The submariners used every inch of space. The men who manned the torpedoes even slept with them. If you look closely at the next picture, you can see the torpedoes over the bunks. The black hole in the middle is the torpedo tube for firing them.

Whatever could go wrong, would, so the crew had to cram the submarine with spare parts. And practically every other inch of wall space contained instruments. Here are just a few of them.

We visited one more piece of history before leaving the museum. The last picture shows the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter McLane, which patrolled the Alaskan coast during World War II. It is less than half the size of the Silversides, but the 30 men it carried had a lot more room to stretch their legs.

Happy Labor Day to everyone who works for a living, and that includes stay-at-home moms and dads. But I'm sending a special holiday greeting to those who currently labor in the military and to the veterans who labored there in the past.

Thank you for serving.

*All pictures in this post are copyright 2011 by Kathryn Page Camp.

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