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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060

The Silent Service

 

Stand By to Fire
Georges Schreiber #17
Watercolor, 1943
Gift of Abbott Laboratories
88-159-JJ

 

 
The crucial moment has arrived-- the vital occasion for which the submarine was built and the men were trained -- the firing of torpedoes at an enemy ship. In the confinement of the machinery-laden warship the tension is almost a physical presence as all watch the marksmen ready their deadly bolt.

 

Surface
Georges Schreiber #15
Watercolor, 1943
Gift of Abbott Laboratories
88-159-JH

Up from the depth, like a primordial monster, the submarine rises to charge her batteries, and "air out" under the protective blanket of the night. Often a submarine spends the whole day on the bottom when enemy ships or planes are about.

 

Up the Hatch
Thomas Hart Benton #25
Oil on press board, circa, 1944
Gift of Abbott Laboratories
88-159-BQ

 

 
Crewmen of a U.S. submarine race up ladders to get aloft through the open hatchway of the conning tower, exhilarated by their eagerness to get a breath of fresh air after hours of confinement below.

 

The Kill
Georges Schreiber #14
Watercolor, 1943
Gift of Abbott Laboratories
88-159-JG

Final act in a drama at sea. The skipper of a sub and one of his lookouts watch eagerly through their glasses as the victim of their torpedoes up-ends and plunges toward the bottom... one less ship for the enemy to throw against the Allies. The flame of the fire lights a pathway for the sub as she races toward the sinking ship in the hope of picking up prisoners.

 

Clear for Action
Georges Schreiber #20
Watercolor, 1943
Gift of Abbott Laboratories
88-159-JM

 

Choosing to fight on the surface rather than crash-dive, a U.S. Navy submarine relies on her three-inch gun rather than costlier torpedoes. While lookouts eye the skies for signs of enemy planes, the gun crew speedily prepares to open fire on the foe. High seas-- a constant peril on the narrow, slippery deck of a sub-- add their menace to the scene.

 

Slumber Deep
Thomas Hart Benton #19
Watercolor on paper, circa 1944
Gift of Abbott Laboratories
88-159-BK

 
Completely relaxed in exhaustion, crewmen of a U.S. Navy submarine do "bunk duty" above a deadly but quiescent torpedo. A shipmate whiles away his off-duty interlude by reading.

 

News from Home
Georges Schreiber #13
Watercolor, 1943
Gift of Abbott Laboratories, Inc.
88-159-JF

 
Excited gestures add emphasis to a crewman's comments on some news contained in a letter received from home. His shipmates peruse the letter while a fourth crewman does "bunk duty" on board a U.S. Navy submarine.

 

Coffee and Chow
Thomas Hart Benton #18
Pen and ink on paper, circa 1944
Gift of Abbott Laboratories
88-159-BJ

 

Eyes almost closed in concentration as he reds a periodical spread open on his leg, a crewman munches on a sandwich and sips a cup of the ubiquitous Navy "jamoke"--coffee.

 

Going Home
Georges Schreiber #21
Watercolor, 1943
Gift of Abbott Laboratories
88-159-JN

That phrase sounds sweeter to a submarine man than the men of perhaps any other branch of the Navy. Fine-drawn and weary from weeks of patrolling enemy waters, with death often just around the corner, the submarine man and his ship both need rest and "overhauling" when their mission is concluded. A dark, pencil-like shadow under lowering skies, the sub skims along on the surface while the night hides her from enemy eyes.

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01 August 2001