Another goal of the restoration is to replace the spare parts that were removed from Pampanito at Mare Island when she was stricken from the Navy. In addition we needed to acquire spare parts not originally carried on a war patrol but would have been readily available at a shipyard or submarine tender. Many of the systems aboard are operational and vintage parts are required to get them running and keep them that way. The original lighting circuits aboard are used, for example, and if a switch fails, historically correct replacements are no longer commercially available. They may not be needed for many years, but by that time they will be even harder to locate. The few remaining WW II era ships that have not been saved as memorials are currently being disposed of. Accumulating spare parts now, while it is still possible to do so, makes good sense.
Many spare parts have been gathered from the mothball fleets of the Navy and the Maritime Administration from ships scheduled for disposal. They have been sources for a wide variety of needed items such as electrical spares, vacuum tubes, communications equipment, radio receivers, sound powered phone hand sets, and much more.
Perhaps the best single source was when we discovered that the last of the fleet boats, USS Turbot (SS-427) was at a research facility in Maryland. Turbot was about eighty percent complete when the war ended and she was never finished. Instead she was used as a test platform for developing technology for a number of years. When she was of no further use the Navy allowed us to bring in a crew and remove over ten tons of items missing from Pampanito and spare parts and equipment. We removed the ammunition scuttle, the main supply blower motor for the ventilation system and the high pressure impulse flasks for the forward torpedo tubes and installed them on Pampanito. Also removed was a wealth of spare parts that have enabled several restoration projects. In addition many key spare parts are now available from storage. This process continues as we gather the items Pampanito will need in the future.
We plan to build a small museum adjacent to Pampanito in the future and are also looking for items that will make interesting exhibits. We recently located, for example, a spare WW II era torpedo data computer aboard a submarine tender scheduled for disposal. This analog computer, which can be restored to operational condition, was one of the most significant advances in WW II submarine technology and will make an excellent educational exhibit.
We have a Wish List of parts and equipment that we are seeking for ongoing restoration.