Saturday, November 21, 2015

Naval Armory and USS Silversides Submarine

Norine Fashing -> Forgotten Chicago
(Update: the USS Silversides Submarine Museum has a video of a tour of the insides of this submarine.)

While researching the Ogden Slip, I came across a posting of the Naval Armory that was used to train reserves.

Norine's comment:
The Naval Armory, not much on the internet about it. When built and when torn down. Any one ever take there girl friend down there to watch the Submarine Races. My hubby used to swim and fish there off the break wall. At one time there was two subs there; one was the USN Silversides. Now its like it was never there.

Norine Fashing -> Forgotten Chicago

It was completed in 1932 and closed in 1982 to make room for removing the two 90-degree turns in the Lake Shore Drive south of the Chicago River bridge.

The USS Silversides (SS-236) had 12 tours of duty (I can't find where I read that) before it was decommissioned on April 17, 1946. In 1947, she was towed up the Mississippi and Illinois rivers to Chicago as a Naval Reserve Trainer. She was removed from the Naval Register on June 30, 1969 and is now preserved as a museum in Muskegon, MI. (SubmarineSailer)
Chicago Tribune, 3/30/1982

As Murphy's Law would have it, the aerial photo I want, 0bwq08006, was not scanned. Fortunately, there is enough overlap I was able to find it in a 1938 photo. Because I initially thought it was on the Ogden Slip, it took me a while to find it. In fact, it is further south along the lake shore. I include an overview to provide context and then a full resolution closeup.
1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP
1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP

Lou Garard posted
Lou Garard posted, 1973
Update: Lou's comment:
Naval Reserve Gunboats at the old Naval Armory along with WWll sub Silversides and training vessel Manatra in the 70's.
Rimas Novickis silversides is in muskegon son did an overnighter there w his scout troop a couple of summers ago at the museum there.

Gary Plazyk I remember touring the Silversides when she was docked at Navy Pier. Chicago didn't want her, but Muskegon did, and even issued hourly progress reports during the tow there.

M. Myer Blatt I went to an "open house" on the gunboats. I heard the skipper of one tell someone he had the "fastest speedboat" on the Great Lakes.

Andy Kowalczyk I had a tour when I was in HS. My buddy's brother was in the Navy Reserve and met there for training. The bow planes were welded level so it could not dive. A treaty with Canada prohibits submarines on the Great Lakes.

Andy Kowalczyk It is also one of the vessels in which a pharmacists mate or corpsman performed an appendectomy while at sea.

Tom Shropshire I was aboard the Danial A Joy as a reserve in 1964, and the Parle in 1968. The attached story, and a few that follow, are from my blog, and book "The Day Calendar" (on Amazon).

Make Malaychuk comment on above posting
 I think I took this picture in February 1970.
David M Laz posted
The USS Silversides, a Gato Class WWII submarine, docked at Navy Pier. She was decommissioned on 17 April 1946 and placed in reserve until 15 October 1947, when she was placed in service as a training ship for Naval Reservists at Chicago, Illinois. After a 1949 overhaul, she remained at Chicago in support of Naval Reserve training as a stationary training vessel for the rest of her service. In 1987, the submarine was moved to Muskegon, Michigan, to serve as the centerpiece of the new Great Lakes Naval Memorial & Museum.Jeffrey Horwitz This is the USS Silversides. My 2nd grade class was taken on a field trip for a tour of it because our teacher, Mrs Clakis was a Naval Reserve Officer.
Unfortunately, I couldn't go because I was sick. But, when I came back to school, she set up a private tour for me and my family.
To climb down the hatch, and walk through it, even as a young boy, I was astounded by how cramped it was on the inside . But, it was so cool. Thank you Mrs. Clakis, wherever you are.
Jeffrey Horwitz Chicago didn't have to give it up, but our Mayor thought it was an eyesore. Imagine if the Mayor had the foresight to place it along side the WWII German Submarine, U-505, at the Museum of Science and Industry. We'd have had the only 2 WWII German and American submarines together in the world.
Cam Michelson posted
Dan Hecker improved Cam Michelson's posting
Wayne Stout shared Museumships's photo.
30 June 1969, 47 years ago today, USS Silversides Submarine Museum's USS Silversides (SS-236) was struck from the Naval Vessel Register.
caption: Silversides on or about 31 March 1942 as she was on sea trials
Glen Miller posted
The snow-covered U.S. Naval Reserve Training Center at the Naval Armory, Chicago, Illinois (USA), circa in 1954. In the foreground is the submarine USS Silversides (SS-236). The Naval Armory stood in the area of the Lakeshore East urban development.


  1. I was On Board the USS Parle DE708 from 1968 till it left Chicago in 1970. Went up the seaway and down the east coast to Portsmouth Va

  2. Took a tour of the Silversides in the early 1960s with a YMCA group. We didn't go on the destroyer escort Daniel Joy, but it was here at the time.