I spent the last two weeks out of town, and my post for the Friday before didn’t happen because there was a fire at my building—I and my unit are fine—that knocked out internet for about 24 hours. But now I have returned.
One of the things I did was visit the city of Pittsburgh in western Pennsylvania. There I discovered the city has a World War II era submarine, the USS Reqin, a Tench-class submarine that launched at the end of the war and saw no active combat. She was later preserved and arrived at the Carnegie Science Centre in Pittsburgh where she serves as a museum ship.
As I waited for the self-guided tour to begin, I spotted a small poster with some big numbers. Naturally I investigated and found it to be a marketing piece by PPG, a Pittsburgh-based paint and coatings company. The poster detailed the work that went in the preservation of the submarine’s exterior using PPG’s own paints and coatings.
We can see the large numbers clearly and to the piece’s credit the hierarchy works. What are we talking about? Three paints applied to the submarine in these quantities in this amount of time. The only factette not totally relevant is how many tourists annually visit the submarine.
Design wise, the poster does a nice job of dividing up its space into an attention-grabbing upper-half. After all, it grabbed my attention. The lower half then subdivides into three columns that speak to the aforementioned subjects. The last column then divides again into halves.
As marketing design does, it’s not the most offensive. For example, we don’t have the gallon buckets sized or scaled differently. The designers used a restrained palette and kept a consistent typographic treatment.
Admittedly, I was a bit disappointed because I had thought it would be some facts or data about the submarine itself. But for what the piece is, I thought it did a nice job.
Credit for the piece goes to PPG’s graphics department.
A few years ago, I created a piece about the missing Argentine submarine ARA San Juan. For those that do not remember, back in 2017, the Argentine Navy Type 1700 submarine ARA San Juan disappeared on a voyage from Ushuaia to Mar del Plata. At the time, people thought it may have sunk over the continental shelf where the seafloor was shallow enough the boat could have survived and not imploded. A year later, surveyors discovered the wreck at a much deeper depth east of the continental shelf. But at the time of the loss I made a graphic trying to show how the submarine was much smaller than the standard American submarine, the Los Angeles class, and how much deeper the Los Angeles class can dive.
So when the news broke this week that an Indonesian submarine, KRI Nanggala disappeared north of Bali, Indonesia, I decided to update the graphic. Since I finished the piece, however, the Indonesian Navy discovered the wreck in three pieces at 850 metres, far below even the presumed crush depth of the Los Angeles class. In other words, at that depth there was never any hope to find survivors.
The Indonesia submarine is an even smaller than the Argentine boat, both having an operating depth of about 250 metres—actual depths are generally not disclosed because, well, military secrets. But the graphic shows just how far below that depth the sub’s wreckage rests.
A story over the last several days you may not have heard about concerns the disappearance of the ARA San Juan, an Argentinian Navy submarine. Here in the US and over in the UK, we use rather large nuclear-powered submarines. They can travel the world underwater without ever coming up for air. But most of the rest of the world uses much smaller diesel-electric submarines. They have to come up for air every couple days, like in all those World War II submarine movies.
As you know, these kind of stories are right up my alley and I wanted to try and explain the story visually. Unfortunately, it took me way too long to illustrate the two submarines you will see. So instead, we have more of a comparison of the San Juan, a Type 1700 submarine, and the movie-famous American Los Angeles class attack submarine.
I had a lot of other things planned, but had to drop them. The point is that the Argentinian submarine is a lot smaller, has fewer crew, but needs to come to the surface in the next day or two, most likely. Time is beginning to run out.
Today you are going to get two posts. The first is this, which is a break from the week’s theme. But news stories happen. The second will be back to regular programming at the regular time. Basically, the Swedish government is reporting that a foreign submarine is operating within its waters and the available evidence points to Russia. I have seen some ridiculous claims that one of Russia’s largest submarines is in trouble there. But I highly doubt that. And here is why.