Great Wisconsin Travel Destinations

Wisconsin Maritime Museum offers hands-on history

CREATED Jun. 6, 2013 - UPDATED: Jun. 6, 2013

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  • Inside the Wisconsin Maritime Museum. | Photo/Video: YouTube Video by YouTube | Photo: YouTube

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  • Inside the Wisconsin Maritime Museum. | Photo/Video: YouTube Video by YouTube | Photo: YouTube

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  • Inside the Wisconsin Maritime Museum. | Photo/Video: YouTube Video by YouTube | Photo: YouTube

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  • Inside the Wisconsin Maritime Museum. | Photo/Video: YouTube Video by YouTube | Photo: YouTube

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  • At the Wisconsin Maritime Museum. | Photo/Video: YouTube Video by YouTube | Photo: YouTube

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MANITOWOC - Wisconsin doesn't spring to mind as a naval powerhouse, but we've played a big role in international waters over the years, and there's a museum in Wisconsin that's ready to tell you all about it.

"Our special focus is on the shipbuilding that occurred during World War 2 here in Manitowoc," said Wendy Lutzke, the educational coordinator for the Wisconsin Maritime Museum.

The Manitowoc Ship Building Company played a huge part in World War 2. They built twenty-eight submarines, and you can see one that's very similar to the ones they built at the museum today.

The U.S.S. Cobia is moored at the museum, and visitors can take a tour of the nearly fully-restored submarine.

"We like to think of it as the best-preserved submarine in the United States," said Lutzke.

The submarine destroyed thirteen Japanese vessels in combat, and it's more or less still in working condition.

"We actually still run the engines a couple times a year," said Lutzke.

The U.S.S. Cobia isn't the only attraction at the museum, though. Visitors can learna bout the history of shipping on Lake Michigan and see models ofa ll kinds of ships used throughout the Great Lakes.

You can even fire up an engine from an icebreaker ship, a 65-ton machine from the ice-breaking carferry Chief Wawatam.

But Lutzke admits that the submarine is most likely what you'd remember if you paid the Wisconsin Maritime Museum a visit this summer, and she's thankful the sub won't be going anywhere any time soon.

"She's tied up here and she's ours to stay here in Wisconsin," she said.