The USS Silversides Submarine Museum in Muskegon, Michigan, is home to the USS Silversides (SS/AGSS-236), a World War 2 Gato class submarine credited with 12 battle stars and one Presidential Unit Citation for her actions. She is the main exhibit at the museum, which also has the Coast Guard Cutter McLane, and numerous items and artefacts from the Silversides and other ships.
Of course, the largest item on display is the Silversides herself. Anchored in the channel next to the museum, she has been well preserved and taken care of. A guided tour of the sub is available and the knowledgeable guide takes you through the entire sub. You see the working areas, the enlisted men's and officer's quarters, the weapons area, radio room, engine room, torpedo room and many more. Walking through the crowded sub gives you an idea of what it was like to serve on her during wartime. Submarine service was at the top of the list when it came to dangerous occupations during WW2. The next boat outdoors is the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter McLane, which was built 1927. She served in WW2 and earned several awards, specifically the American-Defense Service Medal with seaclasp, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, National Defense Service Medal with one bronze battle star, American Area Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal. This boat is in pretty good shape and visitors can explore her freely.
The museum has several items on display outside, such as a submarine rescue chamber, a Mark 14 torpedo, a Hedgehog depth charge thrower, a deck gun and two huge propellers flanking the museum entrance. Once inside, the visitor will see that there are different areas with various displays and exhibits. A special exhibit is about the USS Flier (SS 250), a sub that sank after hitting a mine on its second patrol in the Philippines. Eight men of the 80 man crew survived the sinking and went on to successfully evade the Japanese. There is a film that explains the story of the Flier with objects and documents that explain what the surviving crew members went through and a wall with photos of all the crew members.
One of the more interesting exhibits documents one of the few appendectomies that was performed on a submarine at depth. There were two other appendectomies performed on subs during World War 2, but the one performed aboard the Silversides is the only one that was documented with photographs. There are a few of these photos at the museum, along with the story of how the operation happened. Even though the operation was performed at 150' underwater (to provide stability) with just a few basic medical supplies and some improvised tools, the surgery was successful and the patient made a full recovery.
Another small display in the museum ties into the Silversides moored outside. It is a photo of one of the crew members, TM3 Mike Harbin, in action on the deck gun against the Japanese. The photo was taken seconds before he was shot dead on the spot, and there is a memorial plaque on the sub itself where this happened. He was the only man lost during the Silversides' WW2 service.
Another large display in the museum tells the story of the attack on Pearl Harbor with maps and narrative text, along with examples of period weapons. The Thomas Hume, a lumber schooner that was lost during a squall on Lake Michigan during May of 1891, is the focus of an exhibit toward the back of the museum. Signs detail the history, loss and discovery of the wreck of the Hume. There are many artifacts from the ship here as well as descriptions of life aboard the ship.
Many other items in the museum fill out the rest of the museum's square footage, including a nice collection of ship models. Great examples of the art, there are many kinds of vessels displayed, including wartime and civilian ships. Various military uniforms, including a Navy deep sea diving suit, are on display as well.
This is a nice museum with well thought out displays and some items that are not common. Of course, having two WW2 veterans outside front and center helps to draw attention to the museum. If you're ever in this part of the country, or if you live there and haven't heard about it, do yourself a favor and plan a visit.