SS-580 Barbel - Exterior Design
Compared to any other active duty submarine in the world at the time of their launch, the Barbels had a truly distinctive appearance. The cylindrical hull with rounded nose and tapered taildiffered so drastically from any other class of submarine in service at the time, and marked the Barbels as aproduct of the hydrodynamic research conducted by Albacore.
While relatively devoid of features, the hull is punctuated with various fittings such as cleats, ladders, andaccess hatches. Panel lines between the steel plates can be seen along the entire submarine. With the exception of the tail and bow areas, the top surface of the ship is flattened for sailors to walk on. This area conceals a long sonar antenna, and is surrounded by railing made of metal posts and steel cable. A distinctive horizontal gap of about twelve inches runs several feet below the deck area. At the bow (nose), submerged below the water, are six hatches covering the torpedo tubes, three on each side. A centered hatch at the top of the sub on the bow can be opened to allow torpedoes to be brought into the sub. There are three other hatches on the deck. One is at the bow, another is approximately centered in the deck above the officer's wardroom, and the last is located closer to the stern. The Blueback's exterior is painted black, and the ship's number and other markings are stenciled in white.
The Blueback's most notable exterior feature is the tapered vertical structure, or sail, located on the front third of the ship's deck. The sub's dive planes (small winglets that direct the sub up or down in a dive) are mounted on either side of the sail. Like most submarines, the sail is equipped with several different antennas of various shapes and sizes projecting from the top of the structure, including periscopes, and a snorkel tube. From front to back, the projections are: periscope number 1, periscope number 2, the UHF/IFF antenna, the high signalfrequency AN/BRA ll antenna, a dome shaped BRD-68 radio direction finder and electronic counter measureantenna, a football shaped very low frequency AT/317E signal antenna, a whip antenna, and the snorkel induction head valve and snorkel exhaust valve. The various antennas and devices are painted black, natural metal, or gray with black camouflage stippling. While in active service, the antenna and snorkel tube were retracted when underwater to protect them.
An interior port-side hatch from the main hull into the sail allows access for maintenance; however, this area is not ahabitable com partment. Other notable exterior features are the stern planes at the extreme rear of the ship. Four stern planes extend from the main hull, two vertical and two horizontal. The two horizontal planes have smaller rectangular sonardomes mounted vertically at the end of each. The propeller mount is located behind the planes at the extremerear of the ship where the hull narrows to a cone. With the exception of the top vertical plane, the stern planes are submerged, even when the sub is surfaced.
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