USS Torsk, Baltimore, MD, 12/27/08

On the 14th of August, 1945, the USS Torsk fired the last torpedoes of the Second World War. Those shots sunk 2 Japanese Coastal Defense ships, the last enemy sinking of the war. In 1968, after a long post-war career, she was decommissioned and in 1973 she was berthed in the Baltimore Inner Harbor. I looked at her for years, but had never gone aboard and taken the tour.

Christmas of 2008 we went to Baltimore to visit family. Two days after Xmas, on a misty, foggy morning, we found ourselves wandering the Inner Harbor. I decided to take the tour while MLW went shopping. “I’ll be back in an hour,” I promised.

Paid my admission and climbed aboard. They funnel you down a gangway in the stern that they installed into the Aft Torpedo Room. You work your way forward from there. It was empty when I got there, so I started taking photos and looking around. Very cool stuff if you’re into that kinda thing and I was enjoying myself. I moved into the next compartment where one of the volunteers was working.

Now, if you know me then you know I speak the truth when I say that I can talk to pretty much anybody, pretty much anywhere, about pretty much anything.

I started asking questions and we immediately hit it off. He started explaining the workings of a WWII attack sub, I kept asking questions and he ended up taking me through the entire boat, compartment by compartment, from aft to bow, telling me everything. At one point there was a gangway going down a deck that was roped off: the battery compartment & machine shop. He took me down there, showed me the batteries. I saw the bunks, the engine room, the map room. Hung out in the Galley with him and the other volunteers. The Radio Room. Past another roped off ladder, this time up, into the Conning Tower where I saw the “computers” used to determine the attack parameters. They let me look through the periscope. I was in heaven.

While in the Conning tower my phone went off. MLW asked where the hell I was. I had been gone for not quite 2 hours. Time to go.

It was a great 2 hours, though. Fascinating hardware, lots of stories about how things worked, boat and crew. I had the boat to myself (2 other folks came through the entire time I was aboard and they blew by) and the volunteers were great. If you get the chance, take the tour. It made me really appreciate a small portion of what those poor young guys went through. It must have been terrifying.

Next time, I want to go aboard the SS John W. Brown, one of only two restored Liberty Ships in the country, which is docked nearby.

I’ll budget more time for that one.

Below: The Aft Torpedo Room. Note the bunks upper right & left. These were cramped and uncomfortable.

USS Torsk, Baltimore, MD, 12/27/08

USS Torsk, Baltimore, MD, 12/27/08

Above: The “comfortable” bunks. Considered spacious, it just shows that everything’s relative. Note the gangway on the left that leads down to the battery room.

Below: Hanging in the Galley. My guide is on the left.

USS Torsk, Baltimore, MD, 12/27/08

Below: The Conning Tower. It was very cramped.  I’m not that big of a guy, but I had to move sideways when passing the periscope.

USS Torsk, Baltimore, MD, 12/27/08

Geek Note: The interior of a submarine is an interesting environment to shoot in. The 10-22mm lens and good flash made it possible. Love that lens.