USS PAMPANITO (SS-383)
Pampanito has a dedicated staff who are very proud of the work they have done to preserve the submarine. She has also been blessed with a small enthusiastic group of knowledgeable volunteers, many of whom served aboard submarines or worked on them in Naval shipyards. The volunteers bring with them years of experience in specific areas such as machinery or electronics. These volunteers have helped to shape our thinking about the submarine. A submarine is a very complicated machine and the components vary from the large diesel engines to the delicate watch-like gears in the torpedo data computer. Machinery must be kept free moving and well lubricated and electronic equipment benefits from being warmed up and operated. Whenever possible equipment is maintained in running condition. Although specific projects are too numerous to mention here, there two notable examples that will indicate the types of projects that are undertaken.
Two of the main diesel engines and the auxiliary engine have been restored and run, and we plan to restore the other two main engines in the future. In the process of restoring the engines we found many problems that would have difficult to detect any other way. The engines are only run for very short periods of time and the two engines that do not yet run are lubricated and manually jacked over to assure that they do not freeze up.
The torpedo data computer (TDC) is an analog computer located in the conning tower. It is very common for the internal machinery to be operated even if the unit has not been restored to operational because information could be entered manually by operating the hand wheels on the front of the computer. Lubrication of the internal mechanisms is therefore very important. There is also an AC 110 volt heating circuit with a thermostat that kept the interior of the computer above the dew point to prevent moisture from building up. One of the procedures described in the manual is how the heating circuit can be patched into the lighting system, which was done when the submarine was in port. The TDC has been fully restored to operational status and is regularly run for short periods of time. In the process of restoring the TDC several other problems, such as jury rigged or interrupted circuits, have been located and repaired.
Aside from the damage of time and tide, Pampanito must also be protected from her many visitors, not only from the impact of thousands of visitors each month, but unfortunately, from the danger of the theft of artifacts and vandalism. We refer to this process as "visitor proofing," and it is on going. The solutions to these problems are numerous and varied. A non-skid walk way, for example, has been placed on the main deck tour route to protect the deck and to provide a safe walking surface. The propulsion control stand levers were locked down with an unseen bar installed inside the stand so that the levers can not be operated. Measures are used that do not damage the historic fabric of the submarine and can be removed or changed at any time. We are always looking for ways to improve tourist proofing measures. The goal initially, was to take immediate steps to protect these areas and we are now in the process of refining the methods used and making them less obtrusive visually. In some cases we have removed barriers and applied protective measures on individual items to increase public access and reduce historically inappropriate intrusions.