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SS-580 Barbel - Interior Design

The Blueback's interior is a Spartan, utilitarian affair, with linoleum floors, Formica paneled walls, stainlesssteel fixtures, and steel bulkheads and fittings painted neutral gray throughout. lt is immediately apparent to thevisitor that every spare inch of space needs to be utilized on a submarine. Storage compartments, knobs, levers, wires, and pipes are crammed into every available space, which is a characteristic found throughout the ship, with few exceptions. Along its length the ship is divided into three main compartments. The torpedo compartment at the bow and this area is the largest space in the ship. The Midship compartment in the center, and is at the widest point in the ship. This area contains the living quarters and control center. The machinery compartment is located at the rear of the boat and includes the engines and related controls.

The midship compartment is divided into three floors, the upper two of which house the living spaces and the control center, the bottom deck primarily houses the massive batteries, but also dry goods. The torpedo and machinery compartments have two decks each, with the main space on the top deck and the lower deck serving as space for additional equipment or storage. Each main compartment is divided further into more spaces that are connected with a central hallway, just wide enough for two people to pass. Each space has a curved side wall, as the submarine is circular in cross section. To prevent flooding in the event of an emergency, watertight doors separate several spaces throughout the ship.

The wardroom contains a u-shaped seating area that is quite similar to a corner booth at a restaurant with Formica and stainless steel sufaces for the table and a vinyl bench seat. The area includes the pantry, a small half kitchen about the size of a broom closet, and the executive officer's quarters. Just fore of the officer's wardroom, on the starboard (right) side, is the yeoman's room, or ship's office, where records and the ship's typewriter are found. Across from this space, on the port (left) side is the ship's radio room, equipped with several different types of communications devices. This room is roughly as big as an average-sized bathroom.

Moving forward down a narrow hallway toward the bow is the attack center. This hallway-shaped space is crammed with equipment used to track the speed and heading of torpedo targets and compare this information to the sub's speed and heading. Using this information a solution can be calculated for the crewmen to know where to "aim" their torpedo to hit the selected target. In this area, painted bulkheads and pipes are the only finishes, other than the linoleum floor.

Ahead of the attack center is the ship's command center. The small room is dominated by two periscopes in the center. Since there are no windows on a sub, periscopes are how the sub observes activities on the surface and how surface torpedo targets and hits are confirmed. Also located in the command center are the dive controls, which are located in a long bank of switches controlling hydraulic actuators and gages, designed to monitor and control ballast, dive angle, dive depth, and the roll of the submarine as it turns. At the bow end of the room on the port side are the navigation controls, which look like an airplane cockpit. There are two seats here, each equipped with its own control yoke (similar to an airplane) and a console littered with gauges, switches, levers, and lights. It is also in the command center where the ship's chart table is located on the portside of the room. The whole control room is about the size of an average bedroom found at home. Back in the hallway between the attack center and command center, a very narrow and steep set of steel stairs leads down to the second deck. Forward of this stairway is a locker used to store the ship's small arms and ammunition for immediate use should the need arise.

The torpedo room is the foremost room in the sub and isalso the largest. The room is mostly filled by the two banks of torpedo storage racks. The sub has six torpedo tubes, and carries a total of 22 weapons on board. It is capable of firing several types of torpedoes, but the most common was the Mark 37 wire-guided torpedo. In addition, the sub carried several shorter Mark 57 mines. The weapons are brought into the ship via a loading hatch from the top of the ship's bow. A hydraulic lift rises from the torpedo room floor to align the weapon in one of the racks. When the tubes need to be loaded for firing, a hydraulic rammer pushes the torpedo into position, and then pushes the weapon into the tube. Also in this room is an escape hatch, right above the heavy watertight hatch. Should the sub be in trouble, sailors could egress the sinking sub through this hatch. Behind the torpedo room are the crew's head and the crew's showers.

On the port side aft of the stairwell is the ship's sonar control center. The sonar room is the sub's eyes and ears underwater, the sensitive equipment identified and located ships, submarines, and other obstacles. Any information gathered here was passed up to the control room and the attack center. The sub has sonar sensors and masker emitters in several locations. Some are located in the bow though they are covered by special bulkheads and cannot be seen from outside the sub, and several large sensors are located in vertical additions to the horizontal planes at the stern. Masker emitters are located all over the hull, though they also cannot be seen from the exterior. Their job is to constantly project small amounts of white noise to distort or hide the sub's presence from enemy sonar.

Just aft of the sonar room and crew's washroom are the bunk rooms. The ship had only enough bunks for the men to sleep in three rotating shifts. The bunks are stacked three high on both sides of the central aisle, each bunk is just big enough for a sailor to fit into. Sailors were very limited in the amount of personal storage space, each being given a small drawer four inches tall under the bunk for his personal possessions. Scattered throughout the crew's living area are some larger lockers, which would also be used to stow personal belongings. The crew quarters are vinyl floored, with light wood-pattern Formica paneling with polished steel trim throughout.

Aft of the crew's quarters was the ship's galley, where the kitchen, frozen stores, chilled stores, and dry storeswere located and prepared. Dining facilities for 20 crewmen are located in the galley, so as with sleeping, the crew had to take their meals in shifts. The galley is one of the biggest rooms on the ship, lt is finished with vinyl floors like the rest of the sub and painted bulkheads for walls. Fixtures throughout the room, such as the refrigerator and pantry doors, sinks, and other appliances are made of stainless steel. The four tables in this space have Formica tops with polished steel trim. Bench seats are located on either side.

Aft of the galley and separated by a small watertight door is another deck hatch, and beyond this are the ship's engines. Two of the Fairbanks-Morse diesels are on the second deck; the third is offset in the center below them. The engines do not drive the propeller directly; rather, they generated electricity to run an electric drive motor, which spins the propeller. Since diesel engines require air to run, when the sub is under water a device called a snorkel is raised from the sail to the surface, allowing air to be brought inside the sub and exhaust expelled. The electric motor allows the sub's diesel engines to be shut off, so the sub can run on battery power.

Electric power is the most silent way to move a sub, even more so than the more modern nuclear powered subs since it requires no pistons or moving parts, keeps vibration to a minimum, and does not require air to run. For those reasons, electric power was used whenever the sub was below snorkel depth or did not want to be detected. The engine room is crowded with painted pipes and bulkheads and has a steel floor.

The sub's engines, batteries, electric-drive motor, and drive related machinery are all controlled from the maneuvering room, which is the room furthest aft on the second deck, right behind the diesel engines themselves. ln this room, all the ship's power systems, engines, and generators can be monitored via a system of gauges, or shut down in the case of an emergency. This room has wood-colored Formica-paneling with many types of gauges and levers set into the walls. Consoles are located on the fore and aft walls, with seats for crewmen who are monitoring the gauges. Just aft of this room is a small, narrow, steel walkway that leadsto the stern of the sub where crewmen could perform maintenance on the shaft.

The massive batteries are located on and fill nearly the whole of the third deck. The sub has two batteries; each one has 252 cells rated at 500 volts. The batteries give the sub a submerged endurance of over 100 hours at three knots, or 30 minutes at full speed. After the sub has reached its battery limit, the batteries need to be recharged, which is accomplished by running the diesel engines while snorkeling under water or at the surface for several hours. The battery rooms are lined with rubber to keep corrosive battery acid from damaging bulkheads. ln addition, the rooms are watertight in order to keep seawater from getting into the batteries in case of an emergency.



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