USS Blueback (SS-581)
The ship was decommissioned in October 1990. It was opened to the public in May 1994 at OMSI, and is on permanent display at OMSI’s dock on the east side of the Willamette River.
Visitors can climb aboard the sub and experience what life was like for the 85 men who lived and worked on the boat. 40-minute tours occur throughout the day, and include a behind-the-scenes look at how a submarine dives, produces its own electricity and fresh water, and stays submerged for months at a time. Highlights of the tour include a look at the engine room, the radio room, the control room and attack center, the crew quarters, and the escape and torpedo-loading trunk.
A more technical tour of the sub takes place on the first Sunday of every month. The purpose of the two-hour “Guided Tech Tour,” guided by an ex-submariner, is to give visitors a comprehensive technical look into the workings of the submarine.
Kids can also spend the night onboard the sub, as part of OMSI’s camp-in program. Students from elementary through middle school sleep in the crews’ bunks, after they explore the control room, peer through a periscope, check out the engine room and set a course to carry out a top-secret mission.
The Blueback also features a volunteer HAM radio station (W7SUB) operated by retired Navy veterans. They communicate with other HAM radio operators throughout the world.
OMSI hosts two memorials for submariners on eternal patrol. One is a permanent memorial plaque for submarine veterans of WWII and is located at the entrance to the ramp leading to the dock. The other is the propeller (screw) from the Blueback, surrounded by 67 bricks, each engraved with the name and date of a lost U.S. submarine. It is located on the river walkway in front of the museum.
In 2014 OMSI’s sub volunteers were honored with an award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals (Oregon and SW Chapter) for their tireless dedication.
(This description has been provided word for word courtesy of the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry)