Known as “Torpedo Town USA,” Keyport, Washington is home to the Naval Undersea Museum that features interesting and educational exhibits about the ocean environment, undersea exploration, and warfare. Although this might be a lesser-known museum in a small town, don’t let that fool you because it contains the most comprehensive permanent display of torpedoes in the United States. If you have an interest in naval undersea artifacts, be sure to stop at this FREE museum the next time you travel along the Evergreen state’s Kitsap Peninsula.
When you arrive, start with the outdoor displays. The Trieste II, a deep submergence vehicle that descended to 20,000 feet, and Deep Quest, the Navy’s research submersible that explored the ocean to a depth of 8,000 feet, will capture your attention right in the parking lot. The sail of the USS Sturgeon, lead ship of a class of 37 nuclear, fast attack submarines built and operated between 1963 and present day, is another huge outdoor exhibit.
The museum itself is divided into four main categories: Ocean Environment, Undersea Weapons Technology, Submarine Technology, and Diving Technology. Stroll from room to room where video, audio, and hands-on, interactive displays provide you with a great education in just an hour or two. Want to know what snapping shrimp sound like underwater? You’ll hear it! Want to try assembling a simple nut and bolt? Put on a pair of diver’s gloves and you’ll find it’s not at all an easy task—then imagine doing it hundreds of feet underwater! There’s an especially poignant exhibit that reveals not only the day-to-day life of a sailor, but heartfelt stories and photos capture what their families go through when loved ones are on patrol for months at a time in a Trident submarine.
In addition to more torpedoes than you’ve seen in any other museum, a few other highlights include the control room of the nuclear fast attack submarine USS Greenling. The replica contains periscopes and control panels for the ship’s various systems. The display of diving suits is also remarkable, especially those that protect divers from the hazards of water pressure at depths of 1,000 feet. And if you’ve ever wanted to know how rescue vehicles work when submarine crews are stuck in deep water, models are on display, including a 1/2-scale model used in the 1990 movie The Hunt for Red October.
Although we know that oceans cover more than 70% of the earth’s surface, until you visit a site like the Naval Undersea Museum, you don’t really give much thought to all that goes on below the waves. But after your visit, you definitely will.
IF YOU GO:
The Naval Undersea Museum is open every day, and all Federal holidays except Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day and Easter, from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm. The museum is closed on Tuesdays from October through May only.
Admission and parking are FREE!
In addition to writing about her travels, Denise Seith is also a treasure hunter and loves a good latté. She and her husband own an online gold prospecting and metal detecting equipment store found at GoldRushTradingPost.com