MUSKOGEE, Okla. (KFSM) — The USS Batfish, an historic World War II submarine moored in Muskogee War Memorial Park, is surrounded by floodwaters and moving, museum officials said, and volunteers are working on ways to save it.
Brent Trout, park director, told 5NEWS that volunteers and members of the Oklahoma National Guard had helped attach additional lines to the submarine to secure it, and they’ve loaded the ballast tanks to keep the submarine from floating away. Guard members were also pumping water out of the submarine to correct its floating.
“We are confident that these measures will protect the submarine from floating downriver!” Trout said.
Early Friday, Trout said in a video post on the Muskogee War Memorial Park Facebook page that emergency crews and volunteers with the museum spent Thursday night examining the mooring lines of the Batfish, to determine how much it had moved once floodwaters from the nearby Arkansas River surrounded it. Trout said only one moor line was still holding on the Batfish by early Friday.
Trout said the water had risen 3-4 feet since earlier Thursday. The National Guard was coming in to help secure the submarine, which he said had floated from its normal spot after its mooring lines snapped, so the bow had “floated into some trees.” He said it was in danger of hitting the portion of the USS Oklahoma, which was situated on the grounds.
“We don’t anticipate it floating down the river. Right now it’s holding strong,” Trout said. He said once the Batfish is secure, volunteers and memorial park board members were going to work on finding a more permanent solution so it would not come loose again in a heavy flood.
Trout said the Muskogee Fire Department helped get volunteers to the museum to evacuate more artifacts as well as to check on the Batfish. While there, they heard the mooring lines snapping on the submarine outside.
“If you’ve never watched a submarine’s lines break, it was a loud, frightening sound,” he said. “I know [the line] would have cut a man in half, so that was frightening.”
Drone images from our Tulsa affiliate Newson6 shows the Batfish’s bow has drifted into the trees overnight.