U-995 / USS-525
Last summer I was very interested to visit the U-boot on display in Laboe, the U-995. I was very impressed and even horrified how small it was. Our American submarines had so much more room. Of course, these two types of submarine were designed for completely different conditions and combat missions.
I have attached several pictures of each submarine: the German U-995 and my own American submarine, the USS Grenadier (SS-525). I took these photos of the U-995 myself. Many photos of the U-995 are available on the Internet, so I have included only photos similar to photos I had of the Grenadier. My intention is to show the differences in available space.
The Grenadier was built after WWII but was of WWII design. During its long life (from 1951 to 1973) many changes were made. The outside appearance was greatly streamlined, but the inside appearance was little changed. These photos show how the sub looked when I was on board (from 1963 to 1965). The few pictures showing crew members do show men known to me. These photos were made by other crew members and posted to the Internet.
The photo of the engine room of Grenadier does not show a great more space than in the engine room of U-995. But note that this is the after (rear) engine room. The Grenadier had two engine rooms. Also, the U-995 does not have a real after torpedo room, only a single torpedo tube projecting into the after machinery compartment. The U-995 also does not have a real crew dining area. The crew ate on a temporary table in the walkway between the berths in the crew berth compartment.
The Americans enjoying the cake are chief petty officers on the Grenadier. The cake celebrates the 5000th dive (and successful re-surfacing) of the Grenadier. I was present for that dive. We all received a card celebrating this occasion.
When I heard of the loss of the Columbia, I thought of the men lost on the submarine Thresher and on other submarines. My division officer had served on the Thresher until just a few months before her loss. He knew most of the crew, their wives, and children.
At one time it was fashionable to refer to the underwater environment as "Inner Space" (as contrasted with "Outer Space"). Both kinds of space are hostile and unforgiving of mistakes. The only difference is, with spacecraft as with aircraft, what goes up must come down. With submarines, what goes down does not always come up. We would tell each other, "The trick is to make the number of surfaces to equal the number of dives."