Pearl Harbor, the American naval base and site of the December 7th, 1941 Japanese attack, is home to a number of different attractions, memorials, and things to see. From the somber wreckage of the USS Arizona to the massive Battleship Missouri, the wealth of knowledge available at the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument and other Pearl Harbor Historic Sites makes this a must-see destination for curious world travelers, members of the armed forces, and history buffs of all ages.
One of the most interesting things about Pearl Harbor is that not all of the things to see there were present at the time of the attack. Take the USS Bowfin (SS-287), for example, a submarine that was launched exactly one year after the attack, earning it the nickname “Pearl Harbor Avenger.”
Today, the Bowfin resides at Pearl Harbor, dedicated to the submarines and submarine crews that served throughout World War II. In near pristine condition, she is a striking vessel that’s impossible to miss.
Adjacent to the towering submarine is a museum dedicated to the submarines that served the nation from World War II and beyond. The submarine museum presents a collection of artifacts collected over time including the Bowfin’s bell, which was almost lost during a move from San Diego to Seattle. Other artifacts from the Bowfin herself are housed together in one display that includes the submarine’s second battle flag, which was rescued from the attic of the parents of former crewman Jack Updegraff, and a Purple Heart medal that was presented to crewman Reid Lee, the Bowfin’s only wartime casualty.
Flags of War
Beyond the artifacts pulled from the Bowfin’s history, the museum also houses a collection of battle flags, replicas of different flags seen on submarines throughout the Pacific Theater. Created by the crewmen of each sub, the unique flags recount the history of their ship.
The Poseidon C-3
This huge missile, bisected for easy viewing, weighs 12,000 lbs and measures 34 feet long. The Poseidon C-3 was an American missile that was designed to be launched from a Fleet Ballistic Missile submarine, the first of which being the USS James Madison.
Bells of War
Every ship—including submarines—of the US Navy was outfitted with a bell, which was used to alert the crew of an enemy ship or other hazard. The USS Bowfin Submarine Museum houses a collection of five of these bells, from the USS Narwhal, USS S-9, USS Snook, and the USS Wahoo, in addition to that of the Bowfin herself.
Though the USS Bowfin was’t present during the attack on Pearl Harbor, she has an important presence at Pearl Harbor today as part of the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park.