No visit to Pearl Harbor is complete without a visit to the USS Bowfin submarine. The Pearl Harbor Avengers, as she’s often called, fought bravely in the Pacific theatre during World War II and embarked on many dangerous missions throughout the war.
Today, visitors can tour the great USS Bowfin and learn more about what it’s like to be serving on a submarine and what life was life for the crewmen during times of war. If you’re preparing for a trip to Pearl Harbor, read on to learn more about this historic submarine.
Just days after the devastating Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the Portsmouth Navy Yard received permission to begin construction on a new class of submarines – the Balao. In July of 1942, builders laid down the heel of what would one day become the USS Bowfin.
On the one-year anniversary of Pearl Harbor, the Navy launched the USS Bowfin for the first time. Given the day, she earned the nickname of “Pearl Harbor avenger,” and by the next August, she was out and ready to head to the Pacific where the action was heating up.
Once in the Pacific, the USS Bowfin completed nine patrols throughout the remainder of the war. During her service, the submarine tracked a number of enemy convoys, and when the moment was right, she took them down with her great torpedoes. Just as she was beginning her tenth tour, the commanders aboard received word that the Japanese had formally surrendered. The war was over.
The USS Bowfin’s service, however, was not. The submarine was recommissioned in 1951 and sent to the Pacific to serve in the Korean War. Her presence strengthened the Pacific fleet, but for most of the war, the USS Bowfin remained in San Diego where she was mainly used to train new crew members and hold team exercises. Once the war ended, the USS Bowfin was declassified once more, and she spend some time in multiple harbors on the west coast.
Finally, it was was decided that the USS Bowfin should come home to a place of honor. IN 1979, the submarine returned to Pearl Harbor to serve a new purpose. Designers turned the ship into a floating museum that’s still visited by hundreds every day.
The USS Bowfin is now part of USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park. Now you too can tour the great vessel and discover what life might have been like for the brave crew members who spent months below the ocean surface. You’ll also learn more about the history of submarine use and how the U.S. Navy came to adopt this wonderful technology. As you go along, you’ll see how submarines have advanced over the decades and how submarines have played a part in so many international conflicts.
Though you can tour this magnificent vessel on your own, we strongly recommend booking a tour. This is the best way to ensure that you see everything the museum has to offer, and you’ll learn cool facts about the exhibits that you otherwise may never hear. You’ll also learn from highly experienced tour guides who love to talk about Pearl Harbor and are happy to answer your questions.
For the best times, make sure you book your tour in advance.