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Morro Bay Maritime Museum sees increase in visitors following search for missing submarine

morro bay museum
Posted at 4:16 PM, Jun 22, 2023

This week’s ongoing search for the missing submarine carrying five passengers to the wreckage of the Titanic has also brought light to a former U.S. Navy rescue vessel in Morro Bay.

Though the museum’s DSRV Avalon Rescue Submarine hasn’t been in the water since 2001, museum head of maintenance Bill Steele says their machine is quite similar to the one used in the search for the missing vessel in the Atlantic.

Throughout Thursday morning, many visitors stopped by the Maritime Museum to take in the views of the Avalon and wonder about the search efforts for the lost submarine and its passengers.

“It gives you some perspective on the hardships they are probably facing. I mean, they are down in a really small, confined area,” said Stephanie Cantwell, who was visiting Morro Bay from Sacramento.

“I have never seen a submarine this close before. I think it is really interesting to see what it is like and how it looks,” added Wilmer Gottberg of Sweden.

In the past week, Steele says the museum has also fielded many questions as to whether their model rescue submarine could once again plunge into the ocean.

“I have had friends and people at the museum call me up and say, “We got to get the Avalon back so it can work on the rescue as well,” he told KSBY.

And while Steele says the DSRV Avalon is no longer in use, he showed KSBY firsthand how their submarine would have been used in a rescue mission.

“This thing was built to rescue submariners. No matter where the submarine was made, they would be able to attach the right stuff,” he explained.

Meanwhile, Wilmer Gottberg says he couldn’t help but think about the Titan submersible while looking at the Avalon in Morro Bay.

“I mainly read Swedish media, because I am from Sweden, and the media has been reporting about that submarine all the time,” he said.

Steele adds that while it was active, the DSRV Avalon could dive down as far as 5,000 feet beneath the sea. 

He says while the DSRV Avalon never actually rescued another sunken sub during its years of action, mariners would use it primarily for research and developing tactics for future rescue missions.

Steele adds that rescue submarines today are more advanced and have more capabilities than the DSRV Avalon, which has a sister ship, the DSRV Mystic, that is now decommissioned in Seattle, Washington.

The Morro Bay Maritime Museum is located at 1210 Embarcadero.