The USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park opened in 1981 next to the USS Arizona Memorial Visitor Center in Pearl Harbor.
The submarine and museum are just a 2-3 minute walk from the USS Arizona Memorial Visitor Center.
The Park's mission was and remains "to restore and preserve the World War II submarine USS Bowfin (SS-287), and submarine-related artifacts on (the) grounds and in the Museum."
The USS Bowfin Park's parent organization, the Pacific Fleet Submarine Memorial Association (PFSMA), is a non-profit group that, unlike the nearby National Park receives no state or federal funding. It depends on you small admission charges for the costs of maintaining the museum and submarine.
USS Bowfin (SS-287)
The USS Bowfin is the centerpiece of the museum, a fitting location for the submarine that had been launched a year after the attack on Pearl Harbor and nicknamed "The Pearl Harbor Avenger." USS Bowfin was launched on 7 December 1942 and completed nine successful war patrols. For her wartime service she also earned both the Presidential Unit Citation and the Navy Unit Commendation.
The Bowfin is the best preserved and most visited submarine that served in World War II. In 1986, the Bowfin was named a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Since its opening millions of visitors have taken the self-guided or audio tour of the boat.
Adjacent to the Bowfin is a 10,000 square foot museum which exhibits an impressive collection of submarine-related artifacts such as submarine weapon systems, photographs, paintings, battleflags, original recruiting posters, and detailed submarine models, all illustrating the history of the U.S. Submarine Service.
Exhibits include a Poseidon C-3 missile that allows visitors to examine its inner workings. It is the only one of its kind to be on public display.
The museum also offers a 40-seat mini-theater that shows submarine-related videos.
Within Bowfin Park stands a public memorial honoring the 52 American submarines and the more than 3,500 submariners lost during World War II.
There were many heroes who served in World War II on land and on sea, but the true unsung heroes of the War were the men who served in the Silent Service, the submariners. Confined for months at a time on a frightening small craft with poor air, excessive heat and countless dangers from above and beneath the sea, the submariners were a rare breed of men. Men were not drafted into the submarine corps. They were all volunteers.
Of the 52 submarines that were lost in World War II, many were lost to surface ships, others to aircraft and still others to mines. Many were lost with all hands aboard and sit today at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.
View our gallery of 36 photos taken at the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park.
If you are interested in learning more about the USS Bowfin and her nine war patrols from August 1943 to August 1945, I highly recommend the following:
Bowfin by Edwin P. Hoyt
This 234 book is the most detailed history of any submarine that served in Pacific during World War II. It recounts the building of the boat and chronicles each of her nine war patrols. The book is available at the Museum's gift shop as well as online.
USS Bowfin - Pearl Harbor Avenger (History Channel)
This is an excellent 50-minute documentary that has recently aired on The History Channel.