By Chuck Warren
In 2004, the city of Little Rock captured a fully operational Turkish submarine and docked it on the Arkansas River waterfront. However, it was a bloodless encounter.
Built in 1943 and originally named the USS Razorback, the sub sailed the Pacific during World War II and the Vietnam War. Decommissioned by the United States in 1970, the battleship-grey Razorback was then given to the Turkish Navy, recommissioned as the TCG Muratreis, and stationed in Istanbul – complete with a crimson and white flag waving above her decks.
In 2001, the Razorback’s American veterans discovered the sub was to be scrapped and presented Little Rock’s mayor with a plan. Recover the USS Razorback and create a maritime museum on the inland city’s riverfront.
The submarine was purchased by the City of Little Rock, Arkansas, for $750,000. However, a new law had to be passed before the submarine could be repatriated since it was the first time any United States entity had ever purchased an operational warship from a foreign country.
Three years later, the 311-foot battleship-grey Razorback was towed to its new home on the ruddy brown waters of the Arkansas River and opened to the public for guided tours. Visitors can hear and see the storied history from its 5 successful war patrols.
The submarine is still nearly operational. In fact, so many of the ship’s switches and levers still function that signs hang throughout the warning visitors not to touch anything. Thankfully, it does not house any functioning weaponry.
Visitors can enjoy a guided tour of the entire submarine, including crew quarters, radio rooms, dive stations, and electrical control spaces. Guests can see a clear picture of submarine life in the forward torpedo room, where enlisted men slept inches away from the sub’s 18-foot steam-powered weapons.
The submarine and Maritime Museum next door is open from 10:00 AM to 5:30 PM Wednesday through Sunday. Because of its international history, the USS Razorback still flies both American and Turkish flags. ~TPM
About Chuck Warren—Chuck lives on his boat on the Lake Michigan shoreline, works as a captain for hire, and writes about boats, RV’s, and travel. An ITWPA member with more than 80 published articles, Chuck’s writing career began with a simple request for writer’s guidelines from a magazine he regularly read.