U.S.S. Drum (SS-228)
The other ship at the USS Alabama exhibit is the
U.S.S. Drum, a Gato class WWII submarine. The Drum is
311 feet long and displaces 1526 tons.
|This ship had ten torpedo launchers, a 5-inch gun, a pair of
guns, and a 20mm AA gun.
Original armament consisted of the torpedo tubes and a single 3" gun.
The Drum was launched May 12, 1941 by Portsmouth Navy Yard, and commissioned
November 1, 1941. Her first commander was Lieutenant Commander R.H. Rice.
The Drum had a productive war. This is a picture of her battle markers.
Each flag represents one sinking. And the three flags with the rising sun
on them represent three warships sunk.
history of Drum
Crew compartments on the Drum were incredibly tight.
The most spacious of the cabins was the captain's,
but even his was barely 6 feet long by 5 feet
wide by 5 feet high at its highest point. At the head of his bunk was
a repeater showing him the sub's current speed, depth, and direction.
The torpedoes carried on U.S. submarines in World
War II had a series of problems. Their top-secret magnetic exploder
hadn't been adequately tested and didn't work the same way in the
Chesapeake Bay (where it was tested) as it did on the Equator (where the
submarines were shooting). The backup contact exploder wasn't designed
well enough to take a direct 90 degree hit, and had to be redesigned
using aircraft aluminum. And to top everything else, the torpedoes
routinely ran 10 feet below the depth they were designed for. Once these
problems were fixed, U.S. submarines wreaked terrible havoc among the
Japanese merchant fleet. But it took until mid '43 to reach that point.
|Depth was controlled on the Drum by these diving stations.
The two wheels control the fore and aft diving planes. Adjusting the angle
that the planes made with the water forced the submarine to climb or dive under
The twin dials above the dive wheels are twin depth gauges measuring
the depths of the two ends of the boat.
To get submerged in the first place, water had to be admitted into the
submarine. The interior hull (the one seen in these photos) was kept
ensure that water integrity was kept, the US Navy invented the
"Christmas Tree". This
device, seen to the extreme right in this photo, monitored the status
of all the hatches on
board the submarine. Green lights indicated that the hatch was closed
and therefore safe.
Red meant that the hatch was open. The "Christmas Tree" was also
referred to as the "Board"
thus producing the traditional report, "Green board, clear to dive."
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Copyright 1994, 1995--all photos taken by David Benjamin
last update: May 24, 1995