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 40mm AA 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.
Official 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 water. 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 watertight. To 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