USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park

The USS Bowfin (SS-287) was a Balao-Class submarine built at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. She was launched on December 7, 1942, leading to her being called the “Pearl Harbor Avenger”. The USS Bowfin was armed with 6, 21-inch torpedo tubes forward, and 4, 21-inch torpedo tubes aft with a load of 24 torpedoes. She was also armed with one 5-inch/25 caliber deck gun, one 40mm, and one 20mm anti-aircraft gun. She had a range of approximately 12,600 miles which allowed her to cover the vast distances of the Pacific Ocean. Her nine war patrols would take her deep into the heart of Japanese-controlled territory. During the war, the USS Bowfin was fitted with special mine detection equipment and on occasion, was tasked with mapping routes through the minefields. These types of missions were especially hair-raising and extremely dangerous as oceanic mines were one of the leading causes of US submarine losses, especially in the areas around Japan. The USS Bowfin went on nine war patrols during WWII and is one of the most highly decorated US Navy submarines.

A trip to Pearl Harbor is not complete without a visit to the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park. Come and learn about U.S. submarines, crew, and undersea warfare history, all in one incredible and friendly place.

The USS Bowfin Submarine Museum at Bowfin submarine Park at Pearl Harbor National Memorial on Oahu.

Inside the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum at Pearl Harbor.

The USS Bowfin Submarine Museum sits on 2.5 acres. Along the beautiful shoreline of historic Pearl Harbor and is located adjacent to the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. The USS Bowfin Submarine, its Museum, Waterfront Memorial, and outdoor exhibits were created to illuminate the service, honor, and sacrifice of the men and women who served and continue to serve in the United States Submarine Force.

The USS Bowfin Submarine & Park is located at 11 Arizona Memorial Drive, Honolulu, Hawaii 96818, and is open daily from 7 am to 5 pm (the last tour is at 4:30 pm), closed on New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Tickets to the USS Bowfin Submarine includes access to the new Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum as well as an included audio tour of both the USS Bowfin and the Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum. Each audio tour takes approximately 30 minutes. These tours are available in English, Japanese, Mandarin, Korean, French, Spanish, German, and French.

The Submarine Memorial Circle is dedicated to the submarines lost during WWII. The Memorial is located next to the USS Bowfin submarine at Pearl Harbor.

A children’s area at the Bowfin Submarine Museum.

The USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park is operated by the Pacific Fleet Submarine Memorial Association (PFSMA). PFSMA is a private, nonprofit membership 501(c)(3) organization registered with the State of Hawaii in December 1978. The primary mission of PFSMA is to restore and preserve the USS Bowfin (SS-287) as a Submarine Memorial to the 52 American Submarines and the nearly 3,600 submariners that sacrificed their lives during World War II.

Today, the USS Bowfin Submarine is moored proudly within the site of the Arizona Memorial, ready to welcome visitors to the fabled era of WW II submarines and their crews. This place is filled with tales of men who served under extreme conditions with strength, bravery, and honor. Whether inspired by the journey’s sheer adventure or the crew’s amazing heroism, visitors come away from the USS Bowfin Submarine enriched and inspired by the U.S. submariners’ unique role in helping win the Pacific War.

The crew of the USS Bowfin Submarine.

The USS Bowfin Submarine

For decades, submarines were the Navy’s “Silent Service,“ shrouded in a cloak of stealth and secrecy intended to keep enemies off guard and unaware of their true capabilities. In World War II, submarines represented only two percent of the U.S. fleet. Yet, they were responsible for destroying 30 percent of the Japanese Navy, including eight aircraft carriers, one battleship, and eleven cruisers. During Pacific War, the U.S. Submarine Force sank nearly 1,400 Japanese Navy merchant ships, sending a totaling 5.5 million tons to the bottom of the ocean.

The USS Bowfin Submarine at Pearl Harbor. The USS Bowfin submarine is one of the most highly decorated submarines in the US Navy during WWII.

Launched exactly one year to the day after the Oahu attack on December 7, 1941, the submarine USS Bowfin, nicknamed the “Pearl Harbor Avenger” by its factory workers, fulfilled its name and became one of the most decorated submarines of World War II. The USS Bowfin completed nine successful war patrols before eventually arriving at her final peacetime berth in the waters of Pearl Harbor.

Like her namesake – a scrappy, mean-looking fish with powerful jaws, sharp teeth, and a voracious appetite- the USS Bowfin proved a formidable underwater adversary, sinking 44 enemy ships during WWII. The Joint Army-Navy Assessment Committee (JANAC) of 1947 credited Bowfin with sinking 67,882 tons of enemy warships.

Inside the Bowfin Submarine Museum at Pearl Harbor showing the various submarine battle flags that were made during WWII.

The USS Bowfin submarine at Pearl Harbor National Memorial. The USS Bowfin submarine is located on the opposite side of the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center from the battleship USS Arizona Memorial museums.

The USS Bowfin is not a replica of a WWII submarine — it is the real thing. The USS Bowfin has been painstakingly restored to near-perfect condition by an avid crew of preservationists, offering visitors one of the most authentic looks into the life of WWII subs and her crew. The Balao-class sub was relatively intact when the Navy turned her over to the Pacific Submarine Museum Association in 1979, unlike many of her sister ships which were scrapped or used for target practice by other naval vessels. That means the USS Bowfin still bears most of her original equipment.

Today the Bowfin is a National Historic Landmark and museum ship where visitors from all over the world can experience what it was like to live and work aboard a WWII-era submarine.

Touring the submarine takes about 30 minutes and includes a free self-guided audio tour. The audio features candid commentary by members of the USS Bowfin crew. Visitors hear descriptions of what it was like to live and work under the crowded conditions on board, including how nearly everyone smoked on board. The lack of showers for months at a time, along with descriptions of their operations aboard the USS Bowfin, peppered with the experiences and observations of some of the men who lived and worked on her during the War.

Inside the Bowfin Submarine Museum showing a WWII-era torpedo of the type used by the USS Bowfin submarine.

An image of the after-torpedo room of the USS Bowfin submarine showing the four torpedo tubes. The USS Bowfin submarine also has a forward torpedo room with six torpedo tubes. In total, the submarine carried 24 torpedoes when fully loaded.

The Bowfin tour is set up so visitors can linger at any point in the tour and take a close look at this amazing example of compact design and engineering that made it possible to house a crew of 80 men in a full-enclosed metal tube measuring no more than 312 feet long by 27 feet wide.

Armed with an array of guns and up to 24 torpedoes at one time, learn how the USS Bowfin took the War to the enemy. Stand at battle stations in the forward and aft torpedo rooms; learn how some of the crew slept on their bunks on top of the torpedoes, then experience the inside of her control room, officer quarters, galley, mess decks, and engine rooms. This truly will be a tour you will never forget!

Accessible Into The USS Bowfin Submarine

There are steep stairs leading into and exiting the USS Bowfin Submarine; it may be challenging for slow walkers. Also, please be informed that children under four years of age cannot tour the USS Bowfin for safety reasons. Although the Pacific Submarine Museum and grounds are wheelchair accessible, the submarine is not accessible by wheelchair.

The ramp leading up to the USS Bowfin Submarine at Pearl Harbor. The Ford Island bridge is visible in the background.

Tour The Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum

The Bowfin Submarine Museum at Pearl Harbor houses many different exhibits teaching you the history of US Navy submarines in WWII.

Inside the 10,000-square-foot Pacific Submarine Museum, visitors will see the evolution of submarines. The earliest exhibits feature artifacts from as far back as the Civil War (the first U.S. submarines were pioneered during the Revolutionary War). Some presentations highlight the technological advancements in design, engineering, and weaponry. Others feature the faces and names of sub-service heroes — some who were lost in battle and some who continue to share their stories with the world today.

One exhibit features a photograph of each crew member of the USS Wahoo, a highly-decorated submarine known for her courage and fierce determination in battle. The submarine went down with all hands in the fall of 1943, but it wasn’t until historians compiled detailed records after the War that her fate was determined. In 2006, researchers finally located the wreckage of the USS Wahoo, and a wreath was laid in a memorial ceremony honoring the lost crew. Unfortunately, the resting places of most of the submarines lost during WWII remain unknown.

Along with these historic reminders of the submarines and crews that served America in the past, the Museum also has an extensive exhibit on emerging technologies of the modern attack submarines of the nuclear era. There are models of the three submarines named in honor of the contributions of the people of the State of Hawaii, the USS Kamehameha, the USS Honolulu, and the USS Hawaii. The USS Hawaii is considered to be the most advanced submarine in the world.

In addition, the Pacific Submarine Museum offers visitors a chance to see a massive cutaway model of a Poseidon C-3 ballistic missile. This 34-foot-long projectile weighs 12,000 pounds and is the only one of its kind to be on public display with all of its electronics, hydraulics, and propulsion elements still intact.

Don’t miss this opportunity to experience the Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum, which includes a 30-minute audio tour. This incredible tour covers the history of submarine warfare, from the first attempts in 1776, through WWI and WWII, to the modern U.S. submarines of today.

Waterfront Submarine Memorial

Another important feature offered by this fantastic destination is the Waterfront Submarine Memorial. In the shadow of the USS Bowfin’s sleek profile, along the water, stand 52 markers with the names of 3,600 U.S. submariners who gave their lives in service to their country during WWII.

Although the submarine service was the smallest military unit, they made the greatest sacrifice in terms of loss of life — one in five of the nearly 18,000 crewmembers who went into battle never returned to port.

Please take the time to pause and reflect at the Bowfin’s Waterfront Submarine Memorial that overlooks tranquil Pearl Harbor. Read the fascinating stories about the 52 American submarines lost during WWII while paying tribute to more than 3,600 submariners who gave their lives in service to their country, now “On Eternal Patrol.” This Memorial was created to ensure these men will never be forgotten.

Bowfin-Submarine-Page-Picture-12-scaled

The Submarine Memorial Circle at Bowfin submarine Park in Pearl Harbor is dedicated to the memory of the 52 US submarines lost during WWII.

Visit An Authentic Japanese Suicide Torpedo

A Japanese suicide torpedo on display at Bowfin submarine Park at Pearl Harbor.

Discover an authentic Japanese Suicide Torpedo or Kaiten. This Kaiten survived WWII and is now in Bowfin’s Park. Forty-eight feet in length, 3 feet wide, and a warhead packing 3,420 lbs of explosives, this very deadly weapon was created to destroy the largest of Allied warships.

This particular Kaiten was stationed on Guam to be used against the US Navy in the battle for the Marina Islands. This Imperial Japanese Navy torpedo is one of the most popular displays offered at the USS Bowfin and is the only authentic Kaiten on display in the US.

Outdoor Exhibits

The walkways along the Park are lined with replicas of the many different types of torpedoes and missiles that have been tools of the trade for submarines over the years. From the early steam-powered Mark IV and the electric Mark XIV to the modern rocket, submarine weaponry has evolved dramatically over the decades.

Another outdoor attraction at the USS Bowfin is to experience an authentic WWII submarine periscope. Visitors get a submariners-eye-view of Pearl Harbor through working periscopes. The Parche’s conning tower was salvaged and restored to give visitors a hands-on perspective from the nerve center of a WWII submarine.

A regulus Cruise Missile on display at Bowfin Submarine Park at Pearl Harbor on the Island of Oahu.

Bowfin’s Lanai Food Court

The dining area at Bowfin Submarine Park offers a unique dining experience as the dining area sits right next to the USS Bowfin Submarine.

The most convenient and affordable place for lunch at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center is at Bowfin’s Lanai Court. Visitors can enjoy Bowfin’s world-famous dogs with all the toppings. Alternatively, snack on the Bowfin’s Nachos or enjoy their variety of delicious soups. Food service is open daily from 7 am to 3 pm.

USS Bowfin Museum Store

Choose from a wide selection of nautical and naval souvenirs, including t-shirts, hats, books, and other great Pearl Harbor merchandise. Enhance children’s experience by choosing something from the gift shops’ special “Keiki” section featuring educational items perfect for young minds.

Interesting USS Bowfin Facts:

Launched: December 7, 1942

Commissioned: May 1,1943; Decommissioned: Feb 12, 1947

Recommissioned: July 27,1951; Decommissioned & Stricken: Dec 1, 1971

Length: 311 feet, 10 inches

Maximum Beam: 27 feet, 3 inches

Displacement: 1,525 tons (designed), 1,810 tons (diving), and 2,415 tons (submerged)

WWII Career: Nine patrols occur during the Pacific War. According to USS Bowfin, 44 enemy vessels were sunk (178,946 tons). The Joint Army-Navy Assessment Committee credited the Bowfin with 16 large ships (67,882 tons), plus ten boats of less than 500 tons each.

Awards:

1. Presidential Citation
2. Navy Commendation
3. Philippine Republic -President Citation.

USS Bowfin’s Post WWII Career:

Korean War: 1951-1954.
Training Boat: 1960-1971.
Museum Duty: 1979-present.
Opened to Public: 4/1/1981.
National Historic Landmark: 1986

The USS Bowfin Submarine Museum Store sells souvenirs and T-shirts associated with the USS Bowfin Submarine.

Most Popular Oahu Tours

Best Pearl Harbor Tours – NOW ON SALE

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The following tours are recognized as the most popular Pearl Harbor Tours on Oahu. While generally, our price is the lowest in the market now, for a limited time, they are on sale too.

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    Tour # 1

    Deluxe Pearl Harbor Excursion

    Duration:

    about 4.5 - 5 hours

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    $100.00

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    $45.00

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    Tour # 2

    Deluxe Pearl Harbor & Honolulu City Tour From Waikiki

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    about 4.5 - 5 hours

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    $110.00

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    $49.00

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    Tour # 4

    Battleship Missouri - Arizona Memorial & Short Honolulu City Tour

    Duration:

    about 7 - 8 hours

    Was

    $175.00

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    $135.00