Undersea Warfare The Official Magazine of the U.S. Submarine Force

Summer 2004 Cover of Undersea Warfare Magazine

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Summer 2004/Archives

U.S. Submarine... Beacause Stealth Matters


Washington Watch


Operational Depth

Ships At Sea

Letters to the Editor


6th Annual Undersea Warfare Photo Contest Winners

Former Commander-in-Chief Christens PCU Jimmy Carter

Hard-charging and Persistent: The Crew of PCU Virginia Looks Ahead

Pacific Reach 2004
U.S. Foreign Navies Practice Submarine Rescue, Foster Cooperation and Improve Interoperability

SSGN Conversions: Embodying the Sea Power 21 Vision

Heading North!
Traveling the Artic Region, U.S. Submarines Find Adventure, New Challenges, and New Friends

Saviors and Suppliers: World War II Submarine Speacial Operations in the Phillippines

Enhances Stability and Increases Interoperability in the Pacific Rim

Those in Peril - the S-5 Incident

Bringing Science to Life
Teaching Science Using Submarine Technology and the ex-USS Narwhal (SSN-671)

2004 Force Organization Map

Submarine Force Links

Director, Submarine Warfare

Commander, Naval Submarine Forces

Commander, Submarine Force Pacific Fleet

Navy News Stand

Undersea Warfare Photo Contest



Undersea Warfare 2003 CHINFO Merit Award

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Bringin Science to Life Teaching Science Using Submarine Technology and the ex-USS Narwhal (SSN-671)
by Tom Schram (The “Radar/Sonar Officer” reports contacts to the OOD during a NavOps exercise in the submarine simulator. )

Do you remember how you learned science in school? How about during your shipboard assignments? What distinguished your “book” learning from the reality of the actual application of your knowledge? Most likely, it was the “hands-on” training typical of submarine duty that made the biggest impression. Well, just imagine how 5th graders feel when they assume the role of Chief of the Watch in a fully-articulating submarine simulator during an exercise that is part of the NavOps Deep SubmergenceTM curriculum. NavOps is a nine-month science curriculum developed by Purdue University Calumet for the Gary, Indiana school district.

Yes, 5th graders routinely perform navigation with Navy charts and maneuvering boards, calculate water density, and plot sonar contacts as their Research & Rescue submarine steams around the world, both in their classrooms and also in a submarine simulator during “missions.” The enthusiasm and commitment of the students, teachers, and parents in Gary has stimulated a desire to expand the program into the Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati region and to make it broadly available in the United States. Originally designed for disadvantaged students in the Gary district, it became obvious that this program could play a significant educational role anywhere.

The National Submarine Science Discovery Center (NSSDC) is an organization dedicated to the development of interactive, “hands on” mathematics and science training for children. Why? The sobering reality is that the United States has an annual – and increasing – shortfall of qualified graduates to fill jobs in science- and technology-related fields. NSSDC makes strategic sense for the region and the nation. We plan to combine a former nuclear-powered submarine USS Narwhal (SSN-671), an interactive science discovery center, and a science education outreach program into one facility. If NSSDC’s request is approved Narwahl will become the only former nuclear-powered submarine to be donated by the Navy to a non-military entity. The primary objective is to deliver improved science education, and NSSDC will attract visitors from all over the region. We already have significant ties to the Smithsonian Institution and other national science programs.

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NSSDC is located directly adjacent to Newport on the Levee.

The NavOps curriculum was developed with a Navy grant by Purdue University Calumet’s Department of Education, because studies have shown that students who have not had a positive science experience by the 5th grade have a low probability of taking elective science or mathematics courses in later academic life. The program, which combines a curriculum, classroom experiments, and simulation exercises, started in one school of the Gary, Indiana school district in the fall of 1997 and expanded to all 22 district schools in 1998. The NavOps submarine control room simulator and software were developed by a submariner, CWO4 Fred Huddleston, USNR (ret.). He made sure it was realistic, stimulating, and fun, while delivering the “hands on” learning experience critical to understanding of science and technology concepts. Students are assessed not only on development of individual skill levels in science but also on their ability to work as a team with a common goal. NavOps continues to be the Gary district’s science program for the 5th grade and is now in its seventh year.

An analysis of the concept in the context of the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region indicated that NSSDC could have an economic impact of over $20 million annually. Additionally, as the only science center for 150 miles in any direction, it would draw multiple visitor segments. These include regional and local visitors, national tourists, educational visitors attracted by the NavOps classes, and attendees of military reunions and special events. After the concept had been defined, studied, and proposed on a contingent basis to the region—with a very positive response—we sought a location that would ensure a high probability of success. The City of Newport, Kentucky, directly across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, agreed to donate an ideal site. It is on the river directly adjacent to a local family entertainment center that draws almost four million visitors annually and includes the Newport Aquarium. Additionally, the site can be seen from almost every seat in the new Cincinnati Reds venue, the Great American Ballpark, as well as from downtown Cincinnati and adjoining Ohio River communities.

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The projected opening date for the project is slated for 2007. Seen here is an artist’s conception of the planned discovery center on the Ohio River.

The NSSDC concept and proposed location were persuasive, but asking for an SSN was highly unusual, and no former nuclear-powered submarine had ever been donated previously. Designation of an actual SSN for the Center seemed necessary to attract financial backing. The Navy inactivated and defueled Narwhal at Newport News in 1999 and towed her to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (PSNS) for scrapping. At the time, she was the only submarine realistically viable for potential declassification and donation. Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky submitted an amendment to the Defense Appropriations Act via the Joint Conference Committee in August 2003 that would authorize the Secretary of the Navy to designate Narwahl for NSSDC, provided that the latter could meet the Navy’s ship donation criteria. The Navy had no objection to the proposed legislation, and President Bush signed it into law on September 30, 2003.

Transfer of Narwhal to NSSDC will be at no cost to the Navy other than what would normally be incurred in disposing of a typical SSN. In order to achieve declassification, the reactor compartment and all equipment aft of it must be completely removed. This essentially entails cutting the reactor compartment out of the hull. Narwahl will be displayed completely out of the water, sitting on keel blocks or a keel cradle on the deck of a ballastable barge, similar to a floating drydock but with water-tight ends. We will insert a plug identical in dimension to the reactor compartment to ensure that the overall length remains the same as it was when the boat was constructed. About 40 percent of the Narwahl’s hull will be visible above the sides of the barge.

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Narwahl’s emergency generator room is currently in superior condition. The planned configuration will include access to Narwahl from the barge deck via
a ramp leading onto the quarterdeck and into the restored operations and bow sections.

In the planned configuration, the space aft of the reactor compartment will be open and used for displays, interactive exhibits, or historical presentations. Access to Narwahl from the barge deck will be via a ramp leading to a double-door entranceway onto a quarterdeck. Forward would be the restored operations and bow sections, and nearby would be a building for other elements of the Discovery Center.

The barge is needed to support the modified hull structurally to facilitate towing it to Newport via the Panama Canal and the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, where a vessel can draw only 10 feet, and to display Narwhal at its final berth. Thus, this ocean-going barge must be capable of being flooded down in a dry dock so that the submarine can be floated over it and positioned onto the keel blocks or cradle for modification and ultimate display. The entire project will cost approximately $60 million, with over half represented by “in-kind” contributions already committed, such as the submarine itself, its modifications at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, and a donated berth location. Out-of-pocket costs are estimated at about $26 million and will be finalized from engineering studies, economic analysis, and master planning.

Effort is proceeding on several fronts. NSSDC now has a brochure and video package to communicate the vision of our project. Marine Corps veteran and Academy Award winning actor Gene Hackman narrated the seven-minute video, “Bringing Science to Life!” on a pro bono basis. This video focuses on the urgent need to build up our science education programs and how NSSDC will help to meet this need. Naval Sea Systems Command and PSNS are developing an engineering design package for the Narwhal modifications and NSSDC is expected to open on Memorial Day in 2007. To learn more about the project, please visit our web site at: http://www.NSSDC.us

Tom Schram is the Executive Director of the National Submarine Science Discovery Center (NSSDC) in Newport, Kentucky and one of its founders. He served seven years as an Intelligence Officer (1610) after graduating
from the Naval Academy in 1969. He spent 15 years with Procter & Gamble before becoming an independent marketing consultant. He began work on this project in August of 2002.