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The USS Requin Tells Her Stories

Now a North Shore landmark, the Cold War submarine has a storied history that includes classified patrols throughout the world.





Commissioned as an attack submarine in 1945 and converted to the Navy’s first “early-warning radar picket” submarine in 1946, the USS Requin has been docked on the banks of the Ohio River for more than 14 years. Now a North Shore landmark, the Cold War submarine has a storied history that includes classified patrols throughout the world. One of them was to assist in the search for the lost nuclear submarine, the USS Scorpion, whose disappearance at the same time as that of a Soviet submarine was later dramatized in a blockbuster Hollywood film.

Its days of secret missions long behind it, the USS Requin turns 60 this year, and it will reach that milestone looking like new. As part of a full restoration that has already included re-creations of interior rooms, this year the Science Center will complete the repainting of Requin’s exterior. This external makeover is being made possible through the support of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 57, Sherwin-Williams Industrial and Marine Coatings, Purdy Brush Co., and 3M.

Bill Ellenberger, apprenticeship director for District Council 57, jumped at the chance to have his team contribute their services. He also connected the Science Center with the Sherwin-Williams division that supplies the U.S. Navy with paint for all its vessels. The company
donated 180 gallons of paint, and Ellenberger estimates that 20 of his apprentices will spend up to 300 hours on the project—more than $30,000-worth of labor costs, all donated. Purdy Brush Co. and 3M donated all of the painting supplies.

“ Projects like this allow us to give something back to the community; they instill a great sense of pride in our apprentices; and they provide invaluable, realistic training,” Ellenberger says. “This particular project also exposes our apprentices—many of them still very young—to the cultural side of our community, which I think is really important.” Onsite, Lead Instructor Tony Gammiere and Assistant Instructor Ron Kozain are managing the repainting.

Changes inside the sub are already on view. Last October, the Science Center hosted a reunion of 25 veterans who served on the Requin, eight of whom recorded detailed histories of their experiences. Their recollections were used in the redesign of some of Requin’s interior. Visitors will now see the galley and mess decks looking like they did decades ago, down to the faux salami hanging from the ceiling. And they’ll hear stories about how two cooks rotated 12-hour shifts to feed three meals a day to the 81 men on board—24 at a time. During a 90-day tour, they served as many as 19,000 meals in their tiny, undersea kitchen.

Stories about life on the USS Requin abound. To hear them, and to see its refurbished interior and exterior, plan a trip to Carnegie Science Center this summer.

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