Redecorating your boat – the softer side of Diesel Boats we never knew

Redecorating your boat – the softer side of Diesel Boats we never knew

There is a lot of good natured kidding back and forth between diesel boat sailors and those who operated nuclear subs. Okay, to be fair, some of it isn’t so good natured. But the DBF sailors have been known from time to time to minimize the “manliness” of those who rode boats that allowed for showers and more space per sailor to stow individual gear. DBF sailors that I have known emphasize the toughness and Spartan like conditions of riding a diesel boat and from my many visits to the memorial boats around the country (USS Requin in Pittsburgh comes to mind), I do have to admit that the conditions were a lot more constrictive.

So, you have to understand my shock today when I found this short article from July 3, 1953. I had to read the article five times just to make sure it was not some sort of April Fool’s joke. But here it is in its entirety – you be the judge.


The Key West Citizen. July 03, 1954, Independence Day Edition, Page 8

Submarines Being Beautified By Redecoratros

PEARL HARBOR UPI – U. S. Navy submarines are going in these days for “free expression”. The results in the interior of the submersibles have been startling.  Mess compartments are decorated with murals of glacial lakes and cooling snow scenes. Decks have such colors as red tile and walls are pink. There are sonal ash trays and individual bed lamps by each bunk, curtains and upholstered chairs. It started a year ago when Mrs. Alec Baird was asked by crewmen of the Sabalo to help spruce up the interior of the ship.

Said Mrs. Baird:
“Before redecoration the Sabalo’s visual impact was exactly zero.”

The Chief of Naval Operations gave his blessing to the project. Today at least 16 subs have a new “free expression” look.

On the sub Tiru a huge mural in the wardroom depicts the crew as hairy apes. The profile of the Tiru’s skipper is prominent among those pictured.  Cmdr. William D. Hushing said “there are no taboos regarding the painting of the bulkhead. They can paint all they want so long as what they paint is in good taste.”

Mrs. Baird is pleased by the response and says she has many letters of appreciation from submariners who find the new colors “very cooling”. Her suggestion, however, that the Navy “get rid of all those pipes and things,” was promptly rejected.

I have included the link to the article since I already expect a full spread of torpedoes headed in my direction.

Balao Class Submarine USS Tiru, SS-416, Pearl Harbor, circa July 1962.

I was born a few months before this was written and I will have to assume this madness was scrubbed from the annals of submarine history before my turn to ride boats arrived. I only know this since even my more modern boats still had plenty of pipes and things visible to the naked eye.

Much respect to my DBF brothers for the hardships you faced.

However, I would kill to see the mural on the Tiru if anyone thought to take any pictures before the Navy came to its senses.

Mister Mac

And just like that, a friend digs into his vault and sends me this picture:

USS Tiru SS 416 Wardroom bulkhead mural Crew of Apes. Your story is true, I had to do some digging to find this photo of the mural in the Tiru Wardroom. Richard Murphy

4 thoughts on “Redecorating your boat – the softer side of Diesel Boats we never knew

  1. Serverd on the USS 244 for a couple of years in 63-64 and didn’t seed any murals of any kind just some huge seas as lookout watch and a lot of those pipes and things. Went to FBM’s after and they had real showers. Nice, but kind of woosi.
    JPC IC2(SS)

    1. Last evening, a fiend of mine sent me a picture of the Wardroom picture on the Tiru… I have updated the original post to include that. Depending on when you served on the 244, they may have already returned to a more classic motif

  2. Mr Mac, though I also came along too late to see the Tiru mural, some of our senior vets who served on Tiru at the time, recorded the mural for posterity so it will be forever imbedded in our diesel boat history as a “No-Shitter Story” for those Submarine Sailors that follow behind us through the annuals of history of diesel boat legend. I am pleased that I could contribute a small piece of the amazing life puzzle we DBF sailors wove together as we plowed the King Neptune’s seaways and underwater highways of the Earth’s oceans on fossil fuel burning dinosaurs of the past. Them were Shining Times and I will never forget them. Richard “Murph” Murphy IC3(SS) USS Tiru SS 416

  3. Great grand fathers brother Charles Dixon Served on Hunley, grand father Cyrus Austin Brown served on Submarines WW! Father Served on Submarines WWII I served on Submarines 579 tad off Sperry AS 12, 594 Permit, 602 Abraham Lincoln 688 Los Angeles pre commission crew.1965 to 1977

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