The Barracuda Submarine Is Now Open to the Public

Written By Becky Gillespie

On May 9, the ‘Barracuda’ submarine had its inauguration ceremony in Cacilhas, a 10-minute ferry ride from central Lisbon, after a two-year effort to convert it into a museum. Several dignitaries were in attendance including the Chief of the General Staff of the Armada, Admiral Henrique Gouveia e Melo, who presided over the ceremony, and the Mayor of Almada, Inês de Medeiros. The Barracuda officially opened to the public on May 11 and welcomed 706 visitors! Visitors can now explore the interior of this unique vessel and get a glimpse of life on board a submarine.

The Barracuda’s Life at Sea

Commissioned in 1968, the Barracuda served the Portuguese Navy for 42 years, covering 800,000 miles including on the British lines, the Canary Islands, and the Western Mediterranean. This is the equivalent to circling the globe 36 times! In 2010, the Barracuda sailed on its last mission and will now serve as a proud addition to Portugal’s maritime heritage in a dry dock in Cacilhas, next to the frigate D. Ferdinand II and Glory. It is open for regular tours every Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm beginning on May 14th. At the time of writing, the cost of admission has not yet been announced.

Down the Hatch

One reason that it took more than two years to get the Barracuda ready for the public was due to its entry/exit point being a hatch where only person can pass at a time. This had previously prevented the submarine from being open to the public apart from scheduled visits with special permission. Two side entrances have now been created, which, while reducing some of the original thrill, ensure a safe and unique visit.

What Was the Barracuda Like?

Displaying the Barracuda in a dry dock allows the naval-curious to appreciate the actual size of war submarines, which is difficult to gauge when they are operational in water. Normally, only the periscope tower is visible when submarines surface in the Tagus River. The Barracuda was capable of descending to 300 meters and could remain submerged for up to 31 days. It had a crew of 54 but only 35 beds, utilizing a hot bunking system where crew members shared beds in shifts.

A side view of the Barracuda, Bosc d’Anjou, Flickr

Surprisingly, although the submarine carried 12,000 liters of water, all water was strictly for consumption since bathing was not an option, except for the commander and some personnel when docked. Space inside the submarine was extremely limited and meticulously organized. Claustrophobics need not apply!

If you’ve never set foot on a submarine before, now is your chance! Just take the short ferry ride across the Tagus from Cais do Sodré. While you’re there, why not enjoy a full day in the area?

The Barracuda, Mackem Magic, Flickr
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