Retired navy veteran building full-scale submarine model in his garage
Julian Paras, KPVI and Rett Nelson, EastIdahoNews.com
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POCATELLO (KPVI) – After serving in the Navy for 20 years, Donald Hulse of Pocatello never forgot the work he did.
“I was an electrician. I also was nuclear trained and I did photography work,” Hulse says.
Now in his retirement, he’s found a hobby to help kill time by building his own model of the USS Idaho. This is only a model of something that will be much, much bigger.
A vessel like the one Hulse is building can patrol for at least 30 years without refueling, ever. Sometimes longer.
When he heard the news that a submarine was going to be constructed and named “The USS Idaho,” he decided he just wanted to make one himself, and got to work.
“When they decided to build a submarine named ‘USS Idaho’ I decided I’m gonna build another one. So, that’s where my work is in progress right now,” said Hulse.
KIVI reported earlier this year a nuclear submarine being built in Connecticut will be the fifth ship in history to carry Idaho’s namesake. Four sailors from Idaho will serve aboard her when it’s complete, including Lt. Commander Trevor Elison from Blackfoot.
Richard Colburn, a Parma native who retired as a Navy captain and chairs the committee overseeing the ship’s construction, told the Idaho State Journal in August the sub will be assigned a port in the next year.
The original U.S.S. Idaho was a 32,000-ton New Mexico class battleship first commissioned in 1919, according to the U.S. Navy’s website. It transited the Panama Canal for at least a dozen years preparing for combat.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, it operated along the U.S. west coast and in the Hawaiian area. It provided heavy gunfire during the invasion of Iwo Jima and Okinawa in 1945 before being decommissioned the following year.
Hulse’s full-scale 377-foot sub is still two years from being constructed and finished. The model that sits in his garage is a smaller-scale version of what he’s hoping to build. The small scale version will be finished much sooner than that.
“I’ll have her done probably by the end of February,” Hulse says.
Though the project does keep him busy, he says it’s not just a simple hobby.
“It gives me something to do, keeps me busy and I just kind of enjoy doing it,” says Hulse.
It’s also a reminder of the times he shared and the memories that were made.
“I’m proud of my background, proud of what I did for 20 years. I just still feel like I’m still there. Brings back old memories,” Hulse says.