USS Dolphin

Next on our tour of the San Diego Maritime Museum was the research and development submarine USS Dolphin.

The last diesel-electric submarine in US service, the Dolphin was also much smaller than other US subs, but it was still a significant, oceangoing vessel.

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Unlike most US subs which have hulls designed to improve hydrodynamic efficiency, the Dolphin focused more on an ability to dive deeply. The hull shape was a pure tube, with hemispherical end caps for and aft.

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The number of through hull fittings was kept to an absolute minimum, giving her greater hull strength.

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Sonar Room

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Berthing compartment on main deck. The majority of the crew berthing was on the lower deck, but that isn’t open to the public.

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Radio Room

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That’s labelled as a KY-58. I’ll let Craig weigh in on that. But for your general fund of knowledge, devices in the “KY” series are cryptographic devices for scrambling communications.

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Ship’s helm. Unlike most US subs, there’s only one position, with the helmsman operating all the ship controls, including the rudder, diving planes, and the lee helm (that is, the device that signals desired throttle settings to the engine room).  The depth gauge has been removed, as the diving depth of the Dolphin (and indeed, all US subs) is not public information.

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Diving control panel, immediately aft of the ships helm.

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Ship’s galley. For a small ship, with a small crew, it’s quite the galley.

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Topside, aft looking forward. Decommissioned in 2007, the catwalks were permanently installed for the safety of tourists.

Foxtrot Sub b39

One of the results of the collapse of the Soviet Union was the wholesale distribution of former Soviet weapons around the world. In fact, the Russians sold an old Foxtrot class diesel electric submarine to private interests in Canada, who subsequently sold it to the San Diego Maritime Museum.

The Foxtrot class was a refinement of German U-Boats developed (but not deployed) at the end of World War II. Built in large numbers, the Foxtrots were the early backbone of the Cold War submarine fleet, until generally replaced by early Soviet Cold War nuclear subs.

The b39 now sits pierside along the Embarcadero, open to visitors, and is  a very interesting display of early 1950s state of the art.

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Forward ‘Torpedo Room with six 21” tubes.

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Wardroom

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Diving controls

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Fire control /Torpedo Director Computer

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Main passageway looking forward

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Main passageway looking aft into engine room

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Pantry- Unlike US subs, Soviet sailors generally received a glass of wine a day, usually with the evening meal

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Galley

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Two of the three diesel main engines. Actually, those are the valve covers. The pistons and blocks are below decks.

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Third diesel engine. The engines power electric motors for motive power on the surface, and charge banks of batteries for submerged power.

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Exhausts.

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After torpedo room with four tubes.

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Crew bunks in the after torpedo room. With 56 enlisted sailors aboard, there were only 27 bunks, meaning everyone had to “hot bunk” while aboard. Officers had far more comfortable accommodations, if still quite austere by Western standards.

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Your humble scribe on an interior communications phone.