The U.S. Naval Undersea Museum holds more than 50,000 artifacts in our collection, which includes items of historic, technological, operational, cultural, and personal significance related to the U.S. Navy’s undersea communities. We collect and preserve these artifacts for use in research, exhibits, and public education programs.
While many artifacts — including but not limited to submersibles, torpedoes, mines, submarine equipment, diving gear, ROVs, and models — are on exhibit, the majority are kept safely in storage to be used for research and future exhibitions.
Explore highlights of the artifact collection on our Featured Artifacts and Digitized Collections pages, or keep reading to learn more about the museum’s specialty collections.
The museum develops and holds specialty collections in the following areas:
The museum’s torpedo collection is one the most comprehensive collections of torpedoes and supporting documentation in the world. It comprises more than 5,700 artifacts including complete torpedoes, torpedo sections, components such as exploders and gyroscopes, torpedo tubes, fire control systems, technical manuals and reports, technical drawings, blueprints, photographs, negatives, slides, and models, among other objects. These items provide invaluable information about the history, development, and technology of naval torpedoes.
Collection highlights: A Howell torpedo; prototype and MK 1 Whitehead torpedoes; all World War II torpedoes (MK 13, 14, 15, 16, 18); homing torpedoes MK 24 and MK 37; contemporary torpedoes MK 46, 48 ADCAP, 50, and 54; MK 65 torpedo tubes from USS Tecumseh (SSBN 628); MK 32 surface ship torpedo tubes; and torpedo technical manuals.
The undersea mine collection documents mine warfare and mine countermeasures from the Civil War through contemporary operations. Objects such as complete and partial mines (bottom, moored, and drifting), mine neutralization systems, firing mechanisms, arming devices, technical manuals, instruction books, films, photographs, negatives, and slides make up this collection.
Collection highlights: Two Civil War mines, a rare MK 39 icebreaker mine, a MK 60 CAPTOR mine, a Destructor mine, three mine neutralizing ROVs, an AN/SQQ-14 mine-hunting sonar, and mine technical manuals.
Submarine Technology and Operations
The submarine collection is one of the country’s most substantial holdings of artifacts related to U.S. naval submarine technology and operations. It is primarily composed of control panels (ship, fire, sonar, ballast, etc.), periscopes, attack course finders, bearing rate computers, batteries, escape equipment, a submarine rescue chamber, slide rule computers, models, technical manuals, blueprints, technical drawings, films, photographs, negatives, booklets, letters, naval cachets, plaques, patches, pins, battle flags, posters, and postcards.
The museum also has a sizeable collection of anti-submarine warfare (ASW) material such as sonobuoys, depth charges, depth charge launchers, ASW missiles, and SOSUS (Sound Surveillance System) artifacts.
Collection highlights: The sail from USS Sturgeon (SSN 637), a McCann submarine rescue chamber, Steinke hoods, Momsen lungs, a significant sonobuoy collection, and technical manuals.
Diving and Salvage
The museum holds an extensive collection of diving material related to Navy diving and salvage activities, development, and equipment. The diving and salvage collection contains helmets and masks, diving suits, regulators, rebreathers, boots and fins, gloves, weight belts, diving knives, diving pumps, control panels, diving lights, diving manuals, technical manuals and reports, models, patches, pins, medals, commemorative coins, photographs, negatives, films, newspaper articles, and clothing.
Collection highlights: The end bell from the Sealab II and III habitat; MK V diving helmets (air and helium); a Miller-Dunn “Divinhood” Style 3 helmet; Morse and Snead shallow water diving helmets; a rare MK 11 saturation diving helmet; commercial diving helmets by Kirby-Morgan, Swindell, and the Clark Company; atmospheric diving suits NOMOADS and JIM; a MK III diving air pump; a portable decompression chamber; a Navy cross from the salvage of USS Squalus (SS 192); the Willard F. Searle Jr. archival collection; and the Donna Tobias archival collection.
Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs)
As UUVs grow in usage and capability, the museum continues to expand its collection of unmanned underwater vehicle artifacts. At present, the collection consists of UUVs (ROVs and AUVs); photographs and slides; equipment from UUVs such as cameras, monitors, and sonars; technical manuals and reports; models; and magazine and newspaper articles.
Collection highlights: Recovery ROVs CURV III, Deep Drone, SOLARIS, and NEDAR I; two mine neutralization ROVs; a rare NMRS ROV (near-term mine reconnaissance system); prototype ROV RCV-125; experimental test AUV UFSS (unmanned free-swimming submersible); modern AUV Ranger; UUV photo documentation; and technical manuals.
The museum’s submersible collection documents Navy and commercial submersible history, technology, and development. Items such as submersibles, models, technical manuals and reports, dive logs, blueprints, photographs, slides, film and audio footage, underwater cameras, compressed Styrofoam cups, cachets, patches, and plaques comprise the submersible collection.
Collection highlights: The control room equipment from nuclear-powered research submersible NR-1; submersibles Trieste II (DSV 1) and Makakai; deep submergence rescue vehicle Mystic (DSRV 1); human-powered submarine (submersible) Sub-Human II; a MK 7 SEAL swimmer delivery vehicle (SDV); significant archival collections for Trieste II (DSV 1) and DSRV Mystic; and technical manuals.
Naval Undersea Warfare Center Keyport (formerly the Naval Torpedo Station Keyport) and Naval Base Kitsap–Bangor
Although the museum has a national focus, we also hold a considerable collection of artifacts related to the history and operation of local installations NUWC Keyport and NBK Bangor. Objects in this collection include photographs, installation histories, technical reports, booklets, plaques, blueprints, newspaper articles, negatives, Keynotes newsletters, deeds, films, letters, maps, medals, patches, and postcards.
Collection highlights: Archival material about the Keyport tracking ranges; a large number of early and mid-twentieth century photographs of NUWC Keyport, original film footage from NUWC Keyport, and much of the original material used for the publication Torpedo Town.
Navy scientists conduct extensive oceanographic research to help the Navy plan for operations in anti-submarine warfare, mine warfare and countermeasures, and special forces. The museum’s growing oceanography collection includes hydrophones, bathythermographs, bottom grabbers, water and light meters, echometers, fathometers, inclinometers, technical manuals, photographs, and plaques.
Collection highlights: WWII-era bathythermographs (surface, submarine, expendable), a CTB 40131 type submarine bathythermograph, an NK-6 bottom sounder, and technical manuals.
The museum holds a sizeable collection of technical publications and manuals that contain technical information about naval undersea weapons, equipment, systems, ships, and vehicles.