Elsewhere in this issue, retired Navy Lieutenant Commander Thomas Cutler examines the key ingredients that make for a successful ship museum. His essay is set against the backdrop of ongoing efforts to save the iconic cruiser—but failed museum ship— Olympia , whose role in the 1898 Battle of Manila Bay was the subject of his article in the February issue (“‘Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight’”).
Numerous World War II warships are enjoying second careers as museum ships, but only one U.S. Navy ship active during the Civil War is still afloat, the sloop Constellation , in Baltimore Harbor (the frigate Constitution served as a U.S. Naval Academy training ship during the war). In his “Historic Fleets” column, Robert Cressman takes a look at a celebrated, battle-tested Union screw sloop that came heartbreakingly close to becoming a museum ship before slowly sinking to the bottom at her Norfolk Navy Yard berth and being dismantled.
One of those World War II vessels that still survives, the submarine Cod , is the setting for “Fire in the Torpedo Room,” by J. T. McDaniel. The article, about how the boat suffered her only fatality of the Pacific conflict, is based on the official report of her sixth war patrol. Paul Farace, curator of the USS Cod Submarine Memorial in Cleveland, provides a sidebar containing crewmen’s recollections of the deceased sailor’s eerie premonition.
While Mr. McDaniel’s article documents how a group of U.S. sailors responded to crisis, retired Navy Captain Amedeo Galvini’s explains how many others fought battles. In “Beep, Beep, BOOM!” the captain recounts a 1944 night fight from his station inside his destroyer’s Mark 37 gun director. Norman Friedman’s sidebar, “Mark 37 Direction and Fire Control,” provides background on the advanced Mark 37 system. On board many of the U.S. Navy’s surface combatant ships during World War II, the Mark 37 fire control system was largely responsible for the accuracy of their 5-inch/38-caliber guns’ punch.