Launched on 12 May 1941, the USS Drum (SS-228) was the first of the Gato-class submarines to be commissioned and enter WWII. It’s now located in Battleship Memorial Park alongside the USS Alabama and a collection of notable aircraft.
A self-guided tour allows visitors to explore many parts of the submarine. The doorways and hallways are really cramped, and I can’t imagine living and working in here.
The interior is claustrophobic but contains all the basic necessities and amenities. This dining area, with its real china and banquette seating, is pretty civilized.
The work areas are cramped and look dangerous. Imagine an average-sized man in this space. I’m not a large person but was constantly bumping my head and stubbing my toes. To my knowledge, there weren’t any height or weight restrictions, but how comfortably would a 200 lb., 6-foot tall man navigate this place?
Ahh, so many mysterious gauges, dials and control panels! It’s like a steampunk fantasy but, incredibly, it’s a war artifact.
The USS Drum is over 300 feet long, but the interior is packed densely with different life and work functions for its crew of 60 men.
Standing on top of the submarine, you can see the aircraft pavilion on the right and downtown Mobile in the distance.
I don’t really know people who have served in war, so it’s hard for me to wrap my mind around everything that’s entailed. Visiting the USS Drum gave me a bit of insight into this physically and mentally demanding experience. It’s easy to be a kneejerk Pacifist when you have no understanding of the realities of war, so this experience was both humbling and enlightening.