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Tour Japan's JMSDF Akishio submarine and Kure Maritime Museum (pictures)

Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force's Akishio submarine sits ashore as part of the JMSDF Kure Museum. Here's a tour of this diesel-electric sub, the museum, and the adjacent 'Yamato' museum.

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Geoffrey Morrison
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1 of 36 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Akishio in Kure

The Akishio submarine sits high above the water, and is part of the larger JMSDF Kure Museum.

For the full story, check out "The Whale of Iron: Inside the JMSDF Akishio submarine and the Kure Maritime Museum."

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Traffic

Unlike most museum submarines, this one is right next to the road.

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Yushio-class

The Akishiois Yūshio-class, all 10 of which were built in the late '70s/early '80s, and all are now out of active service.

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All about that bass

Now that is a big sub woofer. Get it -- subwoofer? #audiopuns

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Anchor's away

Just kidding -- it's a plug where the anchor usually sits.

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Prop

When I mentioned the following fact in another article, it proved surprisingly controversial to some commenters, but I'll repeat it here because it's true: Modern subs don't usually use propellers like this (too loud). Many modern subs use pump-jets instead.

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Mines

A few of the different mine types.

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Minesweeping

Some of the equipment used to clear those mines. That is not a real shark.

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Sacrifice

These "oropesa" are towed behind minesweeping ships. This one clearly had a close encounter.

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Knock on wood

So this is pretty fascinating, and rather logical in hindsight. Most minesweeping ships are made largely of wood. This makes them less likely to attract magnetic mines (obviously) and apparently wood is less vulnerable to explosions. Axes are another story.

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Yes sir!!

Most of the subs I've been in have the torpedo room in the bow. The Akishio stacks it below the bridge!

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Screen door on a submarine

The challenge in converting subs to museums is where to enter. Health and safety agencies aren't big fans of ladders in public spaces, so most subs cut into the side or build ramps and stairs into the top.

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Sub head

Being a fairly modern sub (most public sub tours are WWII-era) the Akishio feels relatively spacious. "Relatively" being the key word.

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Cabins

The main hallway with cabins and berths. The ladder leads up to an exit hatch.

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Bunkbeds

The Akishio had a complement of 75 men.

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Galley

Not bad, but it can't beat the espresso machine on the Redoutable.

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Elbow room

For a submarine, this is a pretty big open space.

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Yellow on yellow

Not the color I would choose to stare at for months on end.

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Aftward

A look back the other way, with a better look at the emergency breathing gear and the big-screen TV.

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Private cabins

Like on most ships, the higher-ranking officers get their own cabins and comfy chairs.

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Pipe down

Pipes and conduit lace the walls of every sub. The idea to is allow easier access for maintenance.

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Bridge

This was a lucky two-second moment when there was no one on the bridge. Two periscopes and all the dials, knobs, and screens you could want. I didn't get a good photo of it, but to the right was a chart table.

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Drive and dials

The single electric motor created 7,200 PS (about 7,100 horsepower) and could push the Akishio through the water at about 20 knots.

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Switches and knobs

I hope there was a cheat sheet. The plastic-covered buttons on the lower left allowed the docent to "rig for red" and set off various alarms for the amusment of visitors.

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Drive and dive

One driver controlled the direction, the other the depth.

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Eyes and mostly ears

Some of the various gear the sub needed to navigate and see who or what was in the area.

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Periscope up

Through the periscope, that's the JS Samidare in the harbor.

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Set condition red

So they do actually "rig for red."

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Looking out to sea

Unfortunately, that's it for the Akishio. No engine room or other parts of the ship. Check out my tours of the HMS Alliance, Oberon-class Ovens,or the nuclear missile sub Redoutable for more.

Our tour in Kure isn't finished however...

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Battleship Yamato

The adjacent Kure Maritime Museum is nicknamed the "Yamato Museum" for good reason: a 1/10th-scale model of the largest battleship ever built.

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Huge

Even as a model, this thing is huge at 26.3m/86.3 feet long.

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Stern

Twelve boilers, four turbines, four 6m/19.7-foot propellers for a maximum speed of 27 knots.

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Bow

It does not, as I understand it, fly in space.

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Guns

The nine 46cm/18.1-inch guns were the largest ever put on a ship.

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Zero

This Type 62 Zero crashed in a lake after engine trouble, and was raised and restored in the late '70s.

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The harbor and more

Kure harbor. Note the odd shape to the dock. It's a 1:1 scale representation of the bow of the Yamato.

After this it was back across the skyways for the train back to Hiroshima.

For the full story, check out "The Whale of Iron: Inside the JMSDF Akishio submarine and the Kure Maritime Museum."

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