Echoes of the Silent Service

This was an earlier paper which was inspired by my own digging into the “behind-the-scenes” world of museum boat management and operations. Originally, it was going to end up being much longer, but I was limited by the assignment instructions. In this form, however, it is sufficient enough to cover the general idea of what an outsider’s perspective is on the topic of museum administration. 

This perspective/opinion is currently under revision…

IMG_5588
USS Drum, 2014. Source: author.

Introduction

Submarine museums are scattered all throughout the United States – from Hawaii to New Hampshire. These grey sentinels symbolize the legacy of a time long gone and offer a glimpse of the last remaining artifacts of the efforts and leadership of men and women during some of the most influential events in recent history. Although their battles in times of war have been won, they continue to be involved in another fight – this one against nature, politics, carelessness, and greed. Therefore, preservation of these historic vessels should remain the primary motivation behind the actions and motivation of submarine museum staff.

In Service

The contributions of U.S. submarines in the Pacific Theater of Operations during the Second World War epitomized Sun Tzu’s writings and only after the war properly documented and realized. Two hundred, eighty-eight American submarines sank a over five million tons of Japanese merchant shipping and accounted for over 55% of all enemy shipping destroyed within four years.[1] [2] Almost immediately following the surrender of Japan on September 2, 1945, these low grey predators of the Pacific began the long trip back to ports on the East and West coast of the United States for decommissioning and, for some, almost immediate decommissioning and destruction. Other boats, as submarines are referred to, were to be modified for special post war use, but these too were not spared from the shipbreaker’s yards.

Under Title 10, United States Code, Section 7306, significant vessels may be obtained by 501(c) 3 non-profit organizations in order to promote, commemorate, and safeguard naval heritage and history for future generations. Receiving a donated vessel, however, brings the responsibility for maintaining the ship “in a manner that does not disrespect the veterans that served on these ships or the proud traditions and heritage of the U.S. Navy.” [3], [4] While the organization or individual associated with the operation of a historic ship “assumes title to the vessel and all ownership costs”, the responsibility of improperly displayed or operated ships ultimately rests with the Navy due to the fact that the reasonable standards and expectations understood in the process of applying for and receiving the stewardship of such vessels exist as a framework for not just honor of the past but for the safety of the present and future. [5],[6],

Issues – Financial

By the definition of the Internal Revenue Service, any organization classified as a non-profit must be “organized and operated exclusively for exempt purposes forth in section 501(c)(3), and none of its earnings may inure to any private shareholder or individual.”[7] Misleading as it is, the term non-profit in the case of museum ships fails to capture the realities and necessities for the operation and preservation of these vessels. According to fundraising publications available online, the 2014 dry-docking budget detail for one such museum ship, the USS Pampanito, was estimated to be $500,000.[8] These costs covered much needed repairs which were impossible to effect as the ship is moored in San Francisco bay and is only able to be dry-docked once every seven years.[9] For ships like the USS Drum, taken out of the corrosive environment of Mobile Bay in 2001 at a cost of $1.4 million, the costs of continuing restoration due to exposure to salt, sediment, and wave action are often out of pocket at times for selfless volunteers or from donations in the form of materials and equipment from local businesses.[10]

Issues – Environmental

Sea-going ships produced during the Second World War were developed long before concerns about the environment and health drove industrial safety practices of today. Asbestos, lead, oil for lubrication and fuel, hydraulic fluids and even radioactive material may be found on the ships not yet deemed suitable for display, and even for the ships open for tours such as the USS Clamagore, the presence of the lead-acid storage batteries poses the requirement for trained personnel and proper facilities for handling and disposal.[11] As Weiner points out the concerns for the USS Ling in New Jersey were not the threat posed to the local environment and resources, but the “protection of staff, volunteers, and the public from these and other harmful materials and substances.”[12]

Issues – Legal

Considerations for the legal aspect of operating and maintaining a museum sub range from the protection of history to the protection of the visitors on board. Guidelines set forth by the Office of the Secretary of the Interior, while not legally binding, are in place “to assist in assist individual vessel owners in formulating plans for management of historic vessels in a manner consistent with the intent of the standards.”[13]  However, the laws set forth by the IRS as to the proper reporting and record-keeping for non-profit organizations are more firm in the expectations of conduct. Likewise, the regulatory boundaries established by the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S Coast Guard, as well as the local City and State laws dictate daily operations as well as access to compartments requiring the use of ladders. Insurance coverage for historic access to ships such as the USS Cod, in Cleveland, Ohio may be different for the USS Pampanito in San Francisco, California for example, resulting in entirely different experiences for visitors and logistical planning for staff.[14]

Successes

Location drives the definition of success for three of the museum boats – the USS Cod, USS Pampanito, and the USS Bowfin. With easy access to large metropolitan areas – Cleveland, Ohio, San Francisco, California, and Honolulu, Hawaii, respectively – these museums maintain a steady flow of visitors as well as proximity to organizations and individuals willing to donate time and money towards restoration efforts. In the case of the Cod, the relationship with the residents of Cleveland was forged in 1959 when the Navy Reserve relocated the submarine there in order to facilitate the education and training of reservists in the city.[15] Also key to promoting continual nationwide public interest in the Cod is the fact that it remains the only museum submarine of its class which has not been altered for visitor ease of access, requiring entry and exit through the original hatches.[16] Although altered in this sense, the Pampanito received recognition in the 1995 movie Down Periscope, and the preservation, documentation, and promotion of this museum boat showcases the results effective promotion for the cause of preservation.[17] Likewise, the Bowfin benefits from being not only within line of sight of the same piers it departed from on wartime patrols, but also within view of the USS Arizona Memorial, and the USS Missouri. These three locations capture the beginning, continuation, and end of the United States’ involvement in the Pacific Theater of Operations during the Second World War. The performance of these three submarine museums therefore could be linked to not just location, but to strong ties within the local community as well as effective promotion and endorsement.

In Peril

It is important to note that location does not always guarantee success for submarine museums. Located in Charleston, South Carolina, the USS Clamagore has fallen into such a state of disrepair due to the negligence of previous leadership that actions were underway as recently as 2013 to scuttle the museum boat in an effort to make an artificial reef.[18] Efforts by veterans in Tennessee to relocate the USS Clamagore to Knoxville, however, offer a glimpse of the dedication of former sailors and other preservation-minded service members and citizens to prevent the loss of one museum boat.[19] Leadership issues also plagued the USS Torsk – the submarine responsible for the last American submarine attack of the war – in Baltimore, Maryland.[20] In April of 2014, a standoff developed between Torsk Volunteer Association – responsible for performing maintenance and repairs on the boat – and the museum staff over paperwork requirements, and differences of opinions. Lastly, the USS Ling, located in Hackensack, New Jersey, suffered damage to the meager museum facility during Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and as of February 2013, was “financial distress” and threatened by encroaching development with no long-term plans for either relocation or improvement to the existing museum. [21], [22]

Failures

While not an American submarine with the distinction of serving in the Second World War, the fate of the former Soviet submarine, K-77, serves as an ominous reminder of the precarious relationship between weather and these floating museums. In April of 2007, a storm and associated tidal surges flooded the unoccupied submarine through openings made for ease of access, sinking her at her berth.[23] The K-77 was refloated fifteen months after sinking, but according to Carey, there was “no economically reasonable option to pursue other than to dispose of the boat for its scrap salvage value,” and the submarine was scrapped.[24] Another noteworthy failure, the USS Cabot was an aircraft carrier acquired in 1989 and slated for conversion to a museum ship in Kenner, Louisiana, shortly thereafter. Mismanagement and neglect by the owning non-profit organization, the U.S.S. Cabot Dedalo Museum Foundation, Inc., resulted in damage to facilities where the ship was moored, environmental contamination, and a legal battle lasting a decade and resulting in the ship being scrapped.[25], [26] Both of these examples offer possible outcomes for poorly managed and funded museum boats of all types.

Future

One of the bigger considerations for conservation for these museum boats is the fact that most remain afloat and the watertight integrity of these vessels is threatened by corrosion and extremes of weather. Preservation in water is difficult and requires frequent dry-docking in order to clean, inspect, and reapply protective coatings to portions of the hull not accessible when moored in place. An alternative to this frequent preventive maintenance is to beach the submarine on land, much like the USS Batfish and USS Drum, in Mobile, Alabama. While the appeal of visiting a ship still afloat generates interest in visitors and potential donors alike, the increased maintenance costs, vulnerability to extremes of weather, and loss of revenue for times when the central attraction to a submarine museum is inaccessible in a dry-dock is a major consideration for museum boats afloat. Likewise, the perils of weather typically do not effect museums boats on land, they too are subject to the elements and in need of frequent, yet much easier, inspection and repair. Both of these considerations are critical for preserving these vessels for future generations.

An often underrated, yet critical component to the success or failure of a museum is the Operations side of any museum. Typical of job descriptions of the position of “Museum Operations Manager”, East Tennessee University Office of Human Resources lists core values of “people, relationships, diversity, excellence, efficiency, and commitment.”[27] The importance of the Operations function of museum management is emphasized by Boylan in that due to decentralization of these administrative functions, much of the responsibilities of the day to day functions now rest with senior staff and upper management.[28] Regardless of location, with poor operational relevance, presence, and drive, Tannenbaum writes, “these factors can be completely wiped out if a museum-ship organization lacks vision, professionalism, and accepted business and fiscal practices.”[29]

Fundraising, the most important part of operating a non-profit organization, is the life-blood of any museum. Parman writes that, “with public perception at an all-time low, practicing ethical fund raising has never been more important as an organizations’ reputation directly relates to donors’ trust.”[30] This trust, critical to the viability of these museums, not only generates income for the staff and capital for continued operations, but establishes an identity and a cause for promoting the legacy of the museum as well as potential donors of money, resources, or facilities. Part of the process of fundraising is the financial planning for not just the present, but the future, and as Tannenbaum described, “the wise operations are the ones planning ahead and saving, rather than waiting for issues to reach the crisis state.”[31]

The next generation of volunteers, staff, and donors are currently visiting and watching these precious few museum boats. From the nine year-old showing interest by poising the candid question as to whether or not the submarine will be around for his kids to see, to the student inspired by stories of bravery and determination, to the fourth-generation submariner with a direct connection to these silent relics of a time long past, the preservation of these vessels transcends all present issues. Dawson addresses the schoolchildren of today in stating that “they are far from passive consumers, and unless you allow them to be active in engaging with content, you will lose them.”[32] Engaging the child of today is involving the adult of the future, and for any museum to be successful in the present, the investment is in the future.

It is my opinion, therefore, that “success” and “failure” of submarine museums cannot be readily measured in definitions of present terms. The end goal of these museums is not a “finish line” type goal, nor is it merely measured in a numerical figure of dollars or visitors per year. Instead, the goal is to have the stories, equipment, and vessels outlast the current caretakers much like they have remained long after the men who forged, maintained, and sailed on them into history. It is the responsibility of the museum staff to prevent ego, unethical behavior, and carelessness from compromising the integrity of the stories which are waiting to be told.

Material artifacts will always contest the slow decay which time brings. It is the charge of modern society to prevent or delay this inevitable process to safeguard the links to its past for the educational and cultural benefits for future generations. Therefore, with utmost care and reverence in both action and motivation should these historic vessels be treated submarine museum staff. Once the tangible proof of history is lost, there is no way to get it back.

 

[1] Theodore Roscoe, United States Submarine Operations in World War II (Annapolis, MD: US Naval Institute Press, 1949), 493.

[2] Ibid., 491.

[3] SEA 21 Navy Inactive Ships Office, “Ship Donation Program,” navsea.navy.mil, n.d., accessed February 13, 2015, http://www.navsea.navy.mil/teamships/Inactiveships/Donation/default.aspx.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Historic Naval Ships Association, “FAQ: So You Want a Historic Ship,” hnsa.org, 2010, accessed February 13, 2015, http://archive.hnsa.org/handbook/faq.htm.

[7] Internal Revenue Service, “Exemption Requirements – 501(c)(3) Organizations,” irs.gov, 2014, accessed February 15, 2015 http://www.irs.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profits/Charitable-Organizations/Exemption-Requirements-Section-501%28c%29%283%29-Organizations.

[8] San Francisco Maritime National Park Association, “Help Support the USS Pampanito,” maritime.org, 2014, accessed February 15, 2015, http://maritime.org/pampanito2014.pdf, 1.

[9] Ibid, 3.

[10] USS Drum (SS-228), “The Move to Land,” accessed February 15, 2015, http://www.drum228.org/history.html.

[11] Clamagore Restoration and Maintenance Association, “Business Plan to Save and Relocate the USS Clamagore SS-343,” savetheclamagore.com, n.d., accessed February15,2015, http://www.savetheclamagore.com/CLAMAGORE%20Business%20Plan%20v3.pdf, 5.

[12] Seth I. Weiner, “Save our Ships: The Viability of Naval Vessels as Museum Exhibitions,” (master’s thesis, Seton Hall University, 2012), accessed February 13, 2015, http://scholarship.shu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2835&context=dissertations, 41.

[13] U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service National Maritime Initiative, “The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Historic Vessel Preservation Projects with Guidelines for Applying the Standards,” hnsa.org, 1990, accessed February 15, 2015,  http://archive.hnsa.org/standard.pdf, 13.

[14] San Francisco Maritime National Park Association, “USS Pampanito Volunteer Manual 2010,” maritime.org, 2010, accessed March 1, 2015, http://www.maritime.org/pres/pampvolunteer.pdf, 2-2.

[15] Hon. Dennis Kucinich, “In Recognition of the U.S.S. Cod’s 50 Years in Cleveland,” Congressional Record Volume 155, Number 13, accessed March 1, 2015, http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CREC-2009-09-29/html/CREC-2009-09-29-pt1-PgE2386-3.htm.

[16] National Parks Service Form 10-900, “United States Department of the Interior National Park Service National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form,”  pdfhost.focus.nps.gov, 1985, accessed March 1, 2015, http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NHLS/Text/86000088.pdf

[17] San Francisco Maritime National Park Association, “Welcome to USS Pampanito (SS-383)!” maritime.org, 2015, accessed February 28, 2015, http://www.maritime.org/pamphome.htm.

[18] Abigail Darlington, “Rusting Clamagore Sub at Patriot’s Point Likely to Become a Marine Reef,” postandcourier.com, 2013, accessed February 28, 2015, http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20131101/PC05/131109858.

[19] Raymond Owens, “Knoxville Veteran Trying to Bring USS Clamagore to East Tennessee,” counton2.com, 2014, accessed February 28, 2015, http://www.counton2.com/story/26284107/knoxville-veteran-trying-to-bring-uss-clamagore-to-east-tennessee.

[20] Don Moore, “USS Torsk, Only Sub to Sink Train in World War II,” donmooreswartales.com, 2010, accessed February 28, 2015,  http://donmooreswartales.com/2010/12/20/don-lichty/.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Hannan Adely, “Navy Museum Remains Closed, Seeks Funding for Repairs,” hackensacknow.org, 2013, accessed February 28, 2015, http://www.hackensacknow.org/index.php?topic=2626.0.

[23] Christopher Carey, “A Cold Warrior’s Final Patrol: Russian Submarine K-77,” webs.lanset.com, 2010, accessed February 28, 2015, http://webs.lanset.com/aeolusaero/Articles/A_Cold_Warrior_13-Mar-10.pdf.

[24] Ibid.

[25] United States Court of Appeals, “Fifth Circuit. 297 F. 3d 378 – United States v. Ex-Uss Cabot/Dedalo,” openjurist.org, 2002, accessed February 28, 2015, http://openjurist.org/297/f3d/378/united-states-v-ex-uss-cabotdedalo.

[26] Ibid.

[27] East Tennessee University, The Office of Human Resources, “Job Description: Museum Operations Manager,” etsu.edu, 2012, accessed February 28, 2015, http://www.etsu.edu/humanres/jobdescriptions/admin/235210.aspx.

[28] Patrick Boylan, “Running a Museum: A Practical Handbook,” unesco.org, 2004, accessed February 28, 2015, http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001410/141067e.pdf, viii.

[29] Fred Tannenbaum. “In Contact,” Naval History 26, no. 4 (2012): 8-9, accessed March 2, 2015, http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy1.apus.edu/docview/1023459346?pq-origsite=summon.

[30] Kelsey Parman, “Practicing Ethical Fundraising in Museums,” (master’s thesis, Seton Hall University, 2013), accessed February 28, 2015, http://scholarship.shu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2899&context=dissertations, 10.

[31] Ibid. 31.

[32] Ross Dawson,Thinking About the Future of Museums: Fourteen Key Issues,” rossdawsonblog.com, 2008, accessed February 28, 2015, http://rossdawsonblog.com/weblog/archives/2008/05/thinking_about.html.

Bibliography:

Adely, Hannan. “Navy Museum Remains Closed, Seeks Funding for Repairs.” hackensacknow.org. 2013. Accessed February 28, 2015. http://www.hackensacknow.org/index.php?topic=2626.0.

Boylan, Patrick. “Running a Museum: A Practical Handbook.” unesco.org. 2004. Accessed February 28, 2015. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001410/141067e.pdf, viii.

Carey, Christopher. “A Cold Warrior’s Final Patrol: Russian Submarine K-77.” webs.lanset.com. 2010. Accessed February 28, 2015. http://webs.lanset.com/aeolusaero/Articles/A_Cold_Warrior_13-Mar-10.pdf.

Clamagore Restoration and Maintenance Association. “Business Plan to Save and Relocate the USS Clamagore SS-343.” savetheclamagore.com. n.d. Accessed February 15, 2015. http://www.savetheclamagore.com/CLAMAGORE%20Business%20Plan%20v3.pdf.

Darlington, Abigail. “Rusting Clamagore Sub at Patriot’s Point Likely to Become a Marine Reef.” postandcourier.com. 2013. Accessed February 28, 2015. http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20131101/PC05/131109858.

Dawson, Ross. Thinking About the Future of Museums: Fourteen Key Issues.” rossdawsonblog.com. 2008. Accessed February 28, 2015, http://rossdawsonblog.com/weblog/archives/2008/05/thinking_about.html.

East Tennessee University, The Office of Human Resources. “Job Description: Museum Operations Manager.” etsu.edu. 2012. Accessed February 28, 2015. http://www.etsu.edu/humanres/jobdescriptions/admin/235210.aspx.

Historic Naval Ships Association. “FAQ: So You Want a Historic Ship.” hnsa.org. 2010. Accessed February 13, 2015. http://archive.hnsa.org/handbook/faq.htm.

Internal Revenue Service. “Exemption Requirements – 501(c)(3) Organizations.” irs.gov. 2014. Accessed February 15, 2015. http://www.irs.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profits/Charitable-Organizations/Exemption-Requirements-Section-501%28c%29%283%29-Organizations.

Hon. Kucinich, Dennis. “In Recognition of the U.S.S. Cod’s 50 Years in Cleveland.” Congressional Record Volume 155, Number 13. Accessed March 1, 2015, http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CREC-2009-09-29/html/CREC-2009-09-29-pt1-PgE2386-3.htm.

Moore, Don. “USS Torsk, Only Sub to Sink Train in World War II.” donmooreswartales.com. 2010. Accessed February 28, 2015. http://donmooreswartales.com/2010/12/20/don-lichty/.

National Parks Service Form 10-900. “United States Department of the Interior National Park Service National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form.” pdfhost.focus.nps.gov. 1985. Accessed March 1, 2015. http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NHLS/Text/86000088.pdf.

Owens, Raymond. “Knoxville Veteran Trying to Bring USS Clamagore to East Tennessee.” counton2.com. 2014. Accessed February 28, 2015. http://www.counton2.com/story/26284107/knoxville-veteran-trying-to-bring-uss-clamagore-to-east-tennessee.

Parman, Kelsey “Practicing Ethical Fundraising in Museums,” Master’s thesis, Seton Hall University. 2013. Accessed February 28, 2015. http://scholarship.shu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2899&context=dissertations.

Roscoe, Theodore. United States Submarine Operations in World War II. Annapolis, MD: US Naval Institute Press, 1949.

San Francisco Maritime National Park Association. “Help Support the USS Pampanito.” maritime.org. 2014. Accessed February 15, 2015. http://maritime.org/pampanito2014.pdf.

San Francisco Maritime National Park Association. “USS Pampanito Volunteer Manual 2010.” maritime.org. 2010. Accessed March 1, 2015. http://www.maritime.org/pres/pampvolunteer.pdf.

San Francisco Maritime National Park Association. “Welcome to USS Pampanito (SS-383)!” maritime.org. 2015. Accessed February 28, 2015. http://www.maritime.org/pamphome.htm.

SEA 21 Navy Inactive Ships Office. “Ship Donation Program.” navsea.navy.mil, n.d. Accessed February 13, 2015. http://www.navsea.navy.mil/teamships/Inactiveships/Donation/default.aspx.

Tannenbaum, Fred. “In Contact.” Naval History 26, no. 4 (2012): 8-9. Accessed March 2, 2015. http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy1.apus.edu/docview/1023459346?pq-origsite=summon.

U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service National Maritime Initiative, “The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Historic Vessel Preservation Projects with Guidelines for Applying the Standards.” hnsa.org. 1990. Accessed February 15, 2015.  http://archive.hnsa.org/standard.pdf.

United States Court of Appeals, “Fifth Circuit. 297 F. 3d 378 – United States v. Ex-Uss Cabot/Dedalo.” openjurist.org. 2002. Accessed February 28, 2015. http://openjurist.org/297/f3d/378/united-states-v-ex-uss-cabotdedalo.

USS Drum (SS-228). “The Move to Land.” Accessed February 15, 2015. http://www.drum228.org/history.html.

Weiner, Seth I. “Save our Ships: The Viability of Naval Vessels as Museum Exhibitions.” Master’s thesis, Seton Hall University. 2012. Accessed February 13, 2015. http://scholarship.shu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2835&context=dissertations.

 

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