A submarine? In landlocked Arkansas? Yes! The Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum is located in North Little Rock on the Arkansas River.
Visit the Arkansas Inland Museum
You will actually get to visit two ships here, the submarine USS Razorback (SS-394) and the tugboat USS Hoga (YT-146).
There are also exhibits that explain the role of the battleship USS Arkansas (BB-33), and the missile cruiser USS Arkansas (CGN-41).
When to Visit the Inland Museum
As of the writing of this post in 2023 the opening days and hours are as listed below. But please ALWAYS check the website before you go as this could possibly change.
Summer Hours (Memorial Day to Labor Day)
Wednesday through Saturday: 10 a.m. – 6 pm
Sunday: 1 pm – 6 pm
The last tour of the day will begins at 5:30 pm
Winter Hours (Labor Day to Memorial Day)
Friday and Saturday: 10am – 5pm
Sunday: 1 pm – 5 pm
The last tour of the day will begin at 4:30 pm.
The museum is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
Cost of the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum
- Adults: $10.00
- *Children (5-12): $5.00
- Seniors (62 and older): $7.50
- Military: $7.50
- Museum Only (With no submarine tour): $2
*Children under 5 years of age are not permitted on the submarine for safety reasons. They may visit the museum at no charge.
Again these prices are current as of 2023. Please check the museum website to make sure that nothing has changed before you visit.
General Information About the Tour
It appears from the website that you can schedule group tours of the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum in advance. However, there were just two of us so we simply walked in without reservations.
In fact, we showed up on a beautiful Friday afternoon at about 1:00 and were told that the next tour would begin at 1:20.
This was perfect as it allowed us some time to peruse the small museum and the tugboat both of which are self-guided and not part of the submarine tour.
Right on time at 1:20 our tour guide called our small group together to begin the tour. There were approximately 8 people in our group.
Our tour guide was really great, very funny and informative. He answered questions thoroughly. The submarine was fascinating and we loved learning about the history and the inner workings of the ship.
Everyone on the tour seemed to especially enjoy seeing how the sailers lived and worked in such close quarters.
It was hard to imagine eating and sleeping in such a small space for months at a time. You will see on the tour that some of the bunks were literally right beside the torpedos.
We also heard several stories about some of the pranks that the men would pull on the new guys which were both appalling and amusing.
The tour was about 45 minutes long but it seemed much shorter because it was so interesting.
Important Things to Know Before You Take a Tour!
IMPORTANT: This is not a tour for anyone with mobility issues. To enter and exit the submarine you will be climbing down and up long ladders that go through a hatch on the deck of the submarine. Once inside the sub you will be moving from room to room through small bulkhead doors that will require you to step up and over. The floors in some areas are uneven.
IMPORTANT: Children under the age of 5 are not allowed to take the tour for safety reasons. Even if your child is 5 and over they will need to be able to navigate the ladder through a hatch to the rooms below and back up. Just be realistic the abilities of your child. We do have a list of other things to do in Little Rock with kids that might be helpful.
IMPORTANT: I would also not recommend this tour for anyone with claustrophobia. Although I will say that I actually found it to be less confining than I had anticipated.
I know that sounds like a lot of caveats! However, I think that most people will very much enjoy seeing the interior of the USS Razorback submarine!
Interesting Facts About the USS Razorback Submarine
- She was built at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine beginning in September 1943.
- She launched in 1944 along with two other submarines. This is the largest single day launch of submarines in US history.
- USS Razorback conducted five combat patrols during World War II, sinking Japanese vessels, capturing Japanese POWs, and rescuing American pilots who had been shot down.
- At the end of WWII, she was one of only 12 submarines selected to be present in Tokyo Bay for the Japanese surrender. Be sure and see the photo in the museum of this historic event.
- Razorback continued to be active throughout both the cold war and the Vietnam War.
- On November 30, 1970, USS Razorback was decommissioned and transferred to the Turkish Navy. You will see that the ship flies both the US and the Turkish flags. On the interior several of the signs are in Turkish.
- The Turkish Navy transferred the Razorback to the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum Foundation on March 25, 2004, .
- The USS Razorback is still floating on her own in about 55 feet of water on the Arkansas River.
- According to our guide the Razorback never lost a single sailor.
- This ship only had enough oxygen to stay underwater for 24 hours. Typically she would submerge during the day and then surface in the dark of night.
- The temperatures on the sub would often rise well above 100 degrees.
- There were more sailors than there were bunks. The men worked, slept, and ate in shifts. They shared the beds one after another in a practice called hot racking.
- Most of the water made on the ship was used to cool the engines, which meant that the men often would not shower for weeks at a time. In fact, showering was so uncommon that the bath area was typically used for canned food storage.
- Because of the difficulty of life on the submarine the submariners were paid 1.5 to 2.5 times more than those in the other branches of the armed forces. They also only had to serve 6 or 7 years to receive full benefits.
- The officers had more space and nicer quarters than the rest of the men. However, as you will see on your tour, they were definitely not plush.
- The food was said to be pretty good on board. In fact, before they left shore the four chefs on the submarine would often ask the men what type of meals they would like to have in order to prepare for them. They could even ask for items such as steak and shrimp!
I highly recommend this tour. It was such a fascinating learning experience. I think older children and teens would really enjoy it as well.
Here is a list of some of the other interesting museums in Arkansas.
And a post about even more things to do in Little Rock!
Thanks for stopping by!