Brevard Veterans Memorial Center has a 50-foot metal mystery box in its parking lot that will no doubt be a welcome present for veterans of all branches of the military but especially Navy veterans who served on submarines.
It’s not an unusually-sized Christmas present. It’s a still functional 42-foot tall periscope that will serve as a centerpiece for the center’s museum already packed with authentic displays at the center and a parking lot and park filled with military aircraft and vehicles.
The type 2F periscope was in use on a Sturgeon class submarine between 1967 and 2004 when there were 37 such periscopes in service. The Sturgeon class, also known in naval circles as the 637 class, was a class of nuclear-powered fast attack submarines (SSN) in service with the United States Navy from the 1960s until about 16 years ago. They were considered the workhorses of the Navy’s attack submarine fleet during the Cold War.
The 2,000 pound viewing device came from a veterans museum in Largo. It will soon take its place among memorabilia from all branches on a pedestal already in the center’s museum, which is at 400 S. Sykes Creek Parkway on Merritt Island.
Once in place, the non-electric periscope, which is fixed rather than with the folding arms and lift as seen in the movies, should offer a view of Cocoa Beach about eight miles away with its 6X optics, said Dean Schaaf, the VMC president and museum Curator.
The periscope actually still belongs to the U.S. Navy and is considered on loan to the Veterans Center Museum, he said.
"I have been working on getting this for two years. We now have all the official drawings and plans. I was hoping to get it installed within this calendar year,’’ Schaaf said.
The Veterans Memorial Center, a nonprofit organization, was chartered in 1991. In 2015, an appropriation was received from the state to expand the capabilities of the center with a new museum building for which a grand opening was held Nov. 11, 2016.
Helping secure the periscope, which will cost the center an estimated $8,000 for shipping and installation, was Paul Lapinski, formerly with the Kollmorgen Electric Company of Rhode Island. He has helped get dozens of similar periscopes placed in museums nationwide, according to Schaaf.
The tube is made of one piece of stainless steel and is full of lenses that send the images to the eyepiece, Lapinski said.