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The Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum (AIMM) in North Little Rock (Pulaski County) is home to Arkansas’s only historic naval vessel open to the public for tours, the USS Razorback (SS 394). It also includes a U.S. Navy tugboat, the USS Hoga. The museum also offers a small research library and a number of permanent and rotating exhibits on submarines and naval history.
Hearing of the Razorback’s approaching decommission, a group of submarine veterans initiated an effort to return the submarine to the United States. They approached Mayor Patrick Henry Hays of North Little Rock in 2002 about the possibility of docking the Razorback in Arkansas. At that time, the city was already working to acquire the Hoga, a tugboat present at Pearl Harbor, because it believed that the two vessels would make a perfect combination for a museum on the Arkansas River. Two years later, Mayor Hays traveled to Turkey, where the Razorback had been transferred in 1970, to sign papers for acquiring the submarine. The vessel arrived in Arkansas in August 2004.
After conservation work, the Razorback opened for tours as part of the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum on May 15, 2005. A museum opened in July 2005 in a building a short distance away from the submarine.
In 2002, as part of the work to prepare for the new museum, the City of North Little Rock acquired two barges from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. After extensive renovation work, the two barges were moved into place in January 2006 for additional interior work. The first barge, Mary Munns, serves as the ticket booth, waiting area, and gift shop for the museum. The second, Savannah Lou, holds the museum’s interpretative exhibits, a small theater, workshops, and a library.
In December 2005, a memorial to USS Snook (SS 279), originally installed on the grounds of MacArthur Park in Little Rock (Pulaski County), was reassembled outside the main entrance to the museum. The Snook is one of fifty-two submarines lost during World War II and the one that Arkansas adopted for commemorative and memorial purposes.
Exhibits in the museum consist of permanent exhibits on general submarine history, submarine training, and submarine operations such as firefighting and underwater escape, as well as the Razorback’s operational history, the submarine Snook, and the battleship USS Arkansas (BB-33). Rotating exhibits interpret a variety of topics, such as Pearl Harbor and the many ships and submarines with names related to Arkansas.
The library—a joint effort between AIMM and the United States Submarine Veterans, Inc. (USSVI)—includes more than 2,500 books, periodicals, videos, CDs, and DVDs on many topics, not just submarines. There are significant holdings on U.S. naval history, general military history, the Vietnam War, and maritime piracy and pirate history. The library also has a large selection of fiction titles.
In November 2013, a memorial to USS Scorpion (SSN 589) was also added. The historic tugboat USS Hoga, a survivor of the Pearl Harbor attacks, arrived in North Little Rock from California in November 2015 to become part of the museum.
For additional information:Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum. http://www.aimm.museum/ (accessed April 28, 2017).
Greg StitzArkansas Inland Maritime Museum
Last Updated 4/28/2017
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