Our memorial project is in the form or representation of a “submarine bulkhead.” The “bulkhead” is made of steel, and coated with a marine grade epoxy paint, to represent an actual submarine bulkhead. On it there are several facets. On the west side of the bulkhead, at the top center, the Submariners Dolphin Insignia is engraved. Below that and on the left, an inscription reads “Dedicated to all U.S. Navy Submariners, past, present and future, who defend our nation in peace and in war.” “28 Submarines built in Manitowoc Wisconsin passed this spot on their way to war, after Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941” is also included. This meets our challenge to not forget Pearl Harbor and Pearl Harbor Day. Included on this side, is an artist’s rendition of a WWII submarine that was built in Manitowoc Wisconsin, passing through the Lake Shore Drive Drawbridge and entering the Chicago River on its way to Lockport Illinois, the next to last stop on their Stateside journey before going off to war.
To the right of the picture and inscription, we have obtained and have installed, a watertight door salvaged from the USS Trout (SS- 566) that is rendered non-functional. It will not be able to either open or close, but the public is still be able to traverse or step through the “bulkhead” using the door. Also on this side there is seating facing the memorial so the public can sit and view the whole side of the memorial. At a special spot, people can view the artist’s rendition previously mentioned, then look through the water tight door opening, and get that “Ah-Ha” moment connecting the past with the present by viewing the Lake Shore Drive Bridge through the door opening. The seating material is made of teak to represent the teak decking of those “boats,” but the outer shell is steel, also coated with the marine grade epoxy paint, made to represent the shape of the superstructure, including several “limber holes,” which would allow water to drain from around the interior superstructure. On the back of one portion of the seating, we have engraved the famous quote from Adm. Chester Nimitz, “We shall never forget that it was our submarines that held the lines against the enemy while our fleets replaced losses and repaired wounds.”
On the east side of the bulkhead, at the north end, there is the list of the twenty-eight submarines that were built at Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Four of the 28 submarines were lost in combat with all hands. Each of the four have an asterisk by their name denoting “Lost in Combat.”
The “Bulkhead” is placed on a thirty-three foot wide circular base made of concrete and pavers. Thirty-three feet represents the approximate outer hull diameter of the Gato & Balao class submarines built at Manitowoc, and other shipyards, during the war.
Our vision is to draw the public to the unique design of the memorial. Once they arrive, the design should pique their interest with the shape of the bulkhead, the picture, and then viewing the present day scene through the watertight door. We feel that this will produce the desired “Ah-Ha” moment, looking through a real submarine watertight door at the present day Lake Shore Drive Bridge, referring back to the artist rendition of the boats passing by this spot in the past.
When visitors view the route these boats took going towards the Mississippi River en route to their destination at New Orleans, Louisiana on the map that is part of the memorial, they can continue their journey by exploring the website we will have included with the map. The website will enable them to continue their journey by going to the various links to the submarine related museums and information that we will provide. Our hope is that it will spike their interest to the point that they then visit the various museums and libraries mentioned in the website. Being placed next to the existing bike path / walkway, and next to where the “tall” ships tie up is a perfect spot and should draw a lot of attention. We also plan to have our memorial included as a point of interest for the various Chicago River tour boats.
There are several existing memorials at various locations along the route mentioned. At Henry, Illinois, Peoria, Illinois, Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and the final at Metairie, Louisiana. We would like to “tie” these together as part of our memorial and make it a “trail” that the public could follow. As we move further into our project, we will contact the Illinois Tourism Bureau with our plans.
To get the feel for how it all started, and to visit a WW II submarine very much like the ones that were built in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, please plan a visit to the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Also, to start, visit their website at: www.wisconsinmaritime.org
Thank you for your time and consideration,
Frank J. Voznak Jr.
Crash Dive Base Historian
Crash Dive Base, USSVI