Keyport is home to the top-secret Naval Undersea Warfare Center, a place that sounds like something out of a James Bond film. This is where much of America’s torpedo research is conducted, gaining it the moniker "Torpedo Town." Just west of Keyport in Bangor is the Naval Submarine Base, where the fleet of eight Trident nuclear submarines is headquartered, and where some 1,600 nuclear warheads are stored—more than in France, China, and Great Britain combined! The base is also home to 5,000 military personnel.
Naval Undersea Museum
For visitors, the Naval Undersea Museum (610 Dowell St., 360/396-4148, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. daily June–Sept., 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Wed.–Mon. Oct.–May, free) offers a less-secretive look at the world of undersea warfare. One of the most fascinating museums in Washington, it houses exhibits on the history of undersea warfare and exploration, from scale models of Navy subs to underwater archaeology to mines.
A large globe details the mountainous floor beneath the oceans. Some of the most interesting items are the torpedoes—including such oddities as a 19th-century wind-up torpedo and a World War II Japanese version with space for a kamikaze human driver—plus a half-scale model of an undersea rescue vehicle that appeared in the movie The Hunt for Red October.
Out front is the blimplike Trieste II, which reached the bottom of the Marianas Trench—the deepest point on earth—in 1960. The bulk of this cumbersome, 88-ton sub was filled with aviation fuel; the two men were suspended below it in a tiny chamber.
© Ericka Chickowski from Moon Washington, 8th edition