Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Manitowoc Submarines

Manitowoc Engineering was a ship building company that transitioned to crane building. During WWII, they were still building boats, and they produced 28 submarines. These were some of the boats that caused the bridges on the Chicago Sanitary & Ship Canal to be made movable because the St. Lawrence Seaway did not open until 1959.

I knew Manitowoc got into the crane building business because no one was building a crane big enough to meet their needs. Judging from some comments, these submarine modules were the lifts that required a bigger crane.

Ben Stalvey posted
Manitowoc 3900 hard at work lifting a section of a World War II Gato Class Submarine for Manitowoc Shipbuilding.
David Guarino Double lift.
Jeff Young He's pick n carry

Slim Cooper posted
1. "Speed Cranes" lifting Section H of the Peto (SS-265), into place 21 June 1941. The ship alongside this berth is the passenger boat SS Theodore Roosevelt which was laid up at the yard all during WWII. It was used to hide goings-on from possible prying eyes. Note: The "Speed Cranes" were designed and built by the shipyard specifically to handle the Submarine Sections. At the time they were about the biggest capacity crawler cranes built. The design later became the standard 3900 model produced by Manitowoc Co. and was one of their most popular models until superseded by heavier models.
David Waller Them were big cranes in their day
Mike Collins There was 28 submarines built in Manitowoc. The Museum there has history on them. The Cobia is at the museum, can take tour. The Cobia is the same class as the Manitowoc Subs, but built in Ohio, I believe. None of the 28 survived. My Dad served on the Menhaden SS-377. One of the 28.
Bob LeClair Four of the boats were lost to WWII action. The rest made it through the war. Some were modified and served until about 1960, others were sold off to other countries like Brazil and Turkey.
Mike Larson That's an interesting photo. A lot of the ones in the company archives when I worked there had the face of the submarine section grayed over to hide detail so enemies couldn't see the details of the sub's construction. Photos like this were few.
Rick Webber commented on Slim's post
Mike Collins I was just running a 3900w at the mouth of Chicago river at the lake. This memorial was just outside the job on the river near Navy Pier in Chicago. The other side lists each submarine built.
Rick Webber It's on the riverwalk on the south side of the river. Worth checking out. And the Tiki Bar is next door so on a nice day this spring you can relax and have a drink and watch the boats.

Barry Thornberry posted
Photo Notes: Manitowoc 3900 hard at work lifting a section of a World War II Gato Class Submarine for Manitowoc Shipbuilding.
Al Marchitto Jr The first 3900s at the Manitowoc shipyard.

Ad Gevers shared
J. Mike Poupore: 1942 using two 60 ton 3900s.
John Ambro: Manitowoc Shipbuilding made submarines. There’s one at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum there. While not built in Manitowoc, it’s the same class. The Cobia
Jim Browne: Invented the 3900 just to have something that could handle those hull sections.

wisc.edu (source)
  • June 18, 1941
  • The first hull section of the submarine USS Peto is suspended from the booms of two "Manitowoc Speedcrane" crawler liftcranes as they set it in place on the building ways at the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company in Manitowoc, Wisconsin on June 18, 1941. The crane operators are visible in the crane cabs as other shipyard workers, some sitting on keel blocks in the foreground, observe. The windowed facade of the shipyards' newly built fabrication shop is dominant in the left background. The "Peto" was the first of twenty-eight submarines built by the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company for the U.S. Navy during World War II. This first section, identified as "Section J," comprised the control room portion of the submarine. One of sixteen separate sections, it weighed about 35 tons. Its placement on the ways at 12:30 p.m. on June 18, 1941 marked the "laying of the keel." The Peto would be launched April 30, 1942 and commissioned November 21, 1942. The two new cranes shown here, prototypes for what would become the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company Model 3900 Cranes, were developed by the company's crane division specifically for the submarine building program because existing cranes of the day were not strong or flexible enough to lift and maneuver the huge hull sections. Not only were Manitowoc cranes vital to the work at the shipyards, but six were shipped to Hawaii for use in salvage and rebuilding after the December 7, 1941 bombing attack on Pearl Harbor.

Hans van Vliet posted
Placing a hull section of a submarine at Manitowoc Shipbuilding.
Ken Hart North shore of Manitowoc river..background MirroAluminum!..
Hans van Vliet commented on Ken's comment in a posting

City of Joliet, Illinois, Government posted
Historic Preservation Month: Twenty-eight Gato/Balao Class submarines were built in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. After completion of crew training and sea trials in Lake Michigan, these submarines sailed through the Chicago River and the Sanitary & Ship Canal to Lockport where they were placed on specialty-built floating dry docks. These dry docks then moved through the locks, through Joliet, onwards to the Mississippi River, and then down to New Orleans, Louisiana. Once their periscopes were reinstalled, they traveled across the Gulf of Mexico through the Panama Canal to the Pacific theater of WWII.  Four of the Manitowoc Submarines were lost in combat during the war, with the loss of over 300 officers and men. These four submarines brought the total number of submarines lost in World War II, to 52. A total of 3,000 officers and men are now on Eternal Patrol. 
On Wednesday, June 14th [2023] at 11:00 am, the USS Chicago Base in conjunction with the City will be dedicating a new monument to remember the Manitowoc submarine expedition and the men who served on board all World War II submarines at the Joliet Veterans Memorial at Bicentennial Park. All are welcome to attend this dedication ceremony.

Hans van Vliet posted seven photos with the comment: "Manitwoc Speedcranes during the construction of the first submarine: Peto, build at Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co. 1942."
Ben StalveyBen and 4 others manage the membership, moderators, settings, and posts for Manitowoc Crane Enthusiasts. Manitowoc transporter
Hans van Vliet Early version
David Guarino That is a small area to spend a lot of time underwater. I remember seeing the captain's 'cabin' on a WW2 submarine. It was about the size of a small closet. Interesting how they constructed them in sections like that. I think Electric Boat/GD still does it that way.
Hans van Vliet When Manitowoc starts building submarines in this way they where ahead of that time. They delivered their first submarine 228 days ahead of schedule. Finally they build 28 subs, and the last one delivered on the date scheduled for the 10th submarine of the original contract. Total production of 28 submarines was completed for $5,190,681 less than the contract price.







Hans van Vliet posted four photos with the comment: "Pictures taken during the construction of the submarine Pogy at Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co. 1942."




Hans van Vliet posted
Manitowoc Speedcrane with jib attachment (left) during the completion of the submarine Robalo at Manitowoc Shipbuilding 1943

Matthew Floorguy Manning posted
Here's a cool thing I learned several years ago when visiting Manitowoc, Wi, during WW2, submarines were manufactured there & put on barges & floated down to the Illinois river & then to the Mississippi River to New Orleans for them to put the final touches on the subs. They said at the museum that they couldn't float them down the river, is because the draft were to deep for the subs. I would like to see more pics of subs on barges going down the Mississippi, if any of you guys have any.

Also: Submarines on the Chicago Sanitary Canal

Matthew commented on his post

Manitowoc’s 28 Freshwater Submarines
The Manitowoc-built submarines have become known as Freshwater Submarines since we were the only freshwater port to build subs. Of the 28 submarines built here, 25 were built in time to see action during the war. Together they sank 132 Japanese ships. Four Manitowoc submarines were lost at sea, USS Robalo, USS Golet, USS Kete, and USS Lagarto. The four boats and their brave crews are now on Eternal Patrol.


The USS Silversides Submarine Museum in Muskegon, MI, has a video of a tour of the insides of a Gato-Class submarine.

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