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Topside Work 

Pampanito did not undergo any of the postwar programs that were developed to keep the aging submarine fleet viable in the changing strategies of the Cold War. Many WW II submarines were being modernized as part of the GUPPY (greater underwater propulsion and power) program, or were converted to hunter killers, radar pickets or even missile submarines. Pampanito remained in her original configuration, preserved at Mare Island. By the late 1950s newly constructed nuclear submarines were more suited to modern strategies and Pampanito was brought out of mothballs to serve as Naval Reserve training platform. The changes topside were minimal to accommodate this new role.

The goal of restoring Pampanito's topside to the 1945 configuration involved painting the submarine to a Measure 32 camouflage scheme with two shades of gray on the horizontal surfaces and black on the vertical ones. In that context it was decided to paint out the hull numbers so that the boat would look just as she did while she was on patrol. An extra railing and ladder had been added to the cigarette deck were removed to achieve her WW II Profile.

Photo before and after of after gun deck with 40 mm gun added.

Missing features and equipment were replaced or replicated. The ladders welded to the sides of the conning tower and masts, and the fold down steps on the bridge, were replicated. The large ammunition storage canister that had originally been mounted on the after port section of the conning tower was located under the forward superstructure and was put back in place. Most of the topside equipment had been removed. We have been able to replace all of the items missing topside, including the 12" searchlight, both target bearing transmitters and binoculars, all three of the permanently mounted deck guns, the bridge speaker, gyrocompass repeater, long wire antenna and JP-1 hydrophone. The topside blastphones had been removed but two originals were located at the bottom of the ballast tanks during an inspection and were mounted fore and aft on the conning tower. The two mounted port and starboard on the superstructure are replicas.

Aside from the handrails and stairways added for visitor safety, Pampanito looks very much like she did in 1945. An interesting footnote to the topside restoration is that for the recent filming of Down Periscope all of the railings and the after visitor ladder were removed. It was quite an experience for those of us who have worked to restore the submarine to see her regain her sleek, at sea configuration, as the photo on Pampanito's home page clearly shows.

 

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Version 2.00, 11 Sep 2006