This periscope, located at the New Mexico Veterans’ Memorial, is from a Sturgeon Class Submarine. Sturgeon Class Submarines were deployed from the 1960’s thru 2004. This periscope would be the #1 periscope and was referred to as the attack scope. This was because it had a lower profile and left a smaller wake in the water.
The submarine would come to periscope depth several times a day to get radio messages and navigational position fixes from naval satellites. At periscope depth the submarine would also do trash disposal operations, pump out bilge water and empty sanitary tanks. When the submarine was operating at periscope depth during normal operations anyone from the crew could look out of it. This was referred to as “periscope liberty”. Someone always had to be looking out of the periscope when it was up.
When this periscope was installed at the visitor’s center it was the only museum periscope that could be hydraulically raised and lowered. Most museum periscopes have steps of some kind for viewing. This periscope height can be adjusted so both kids and adults use it. While this is a fully functioning periscope some of the controls have been locked to prevent damage. At the bottom of the periscope is a Stadimeter. These dials are used to estimate the range to the target.
The #2 periscope on this class submarine was the normally used periscope because in included a video camera, radio antenna, and ECM (electronic counter measure) antenna. ECM systems on the submarine allow it to detect radar and radio transmissions from ships and airplanes. Because of these additional features the #2 scope had a larger profile and a larger wake in the water.
The Navy’s new USS Virginia (SSN-774) Class (including USS New Mexico SSN779) submarine will be getting a Photonics Mast that replaces the traditional optical lenses and prisms of conventional periscopes with electronic imaging equipment. Each Virginia-class submarine will have two photonics masts that do not require physical penetration of the ship’s hull, but instead “telescope” out of the sail. Importantly, this allows Virginia’s Control Room to be moved from the cramped first deck to the more spacious second deck. Images from the photonics masts will be sent to two workstations and a commander’s control console. The masts are equipped with three cameras: color, high-resolution black-and-white, and infrared – in addition to a mission-critical control camera in a separate, pressure-proof and shock-hardened housing and a laser range finder that will provide accurate ranges to targets and aids to navigation. All of these sensors are housed in the mast’s rotating head.
United State Submarine Veterans acquired and installed the periscope. It was donated by the Department of the Navy and shipped to Albuquerque from Kollmorgen Corporation, Northampton Massachusetts.
We are very thankful for the donations that helped pay transportation cost and other expenses associated with the installation of this periscope.