Life is short, break the rules. Forgive quickly, kiss slowly. Love truly, laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that makes you smile. - Samuel Longhorne Clemens (Mark Twain)

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Vacation Travelogue - Pearl Harbor Pt II

After seeing the Arizona memorial when headed over to the next exhibit the USS Bowfin museum and park. As you approach the entrance you are greeted by examples of various torpedoes, which for some reason I didn't take any pictures of, as well as two examples of the Polaris missile. It was all quite fascinating. We were quite fortunate that there wasn't a line to get into the sub itself. I have never been inside any type of submarine before so I was quite excited. It probably explains the huge number of pictures of the interior of the USS Bowfin.

A little history on the USS Bowfin SS-287: She is a Balao- class submarine and was launched on 12/7/1942, one year after the attack on Pearl Harbor. She was nicknamed the Pearl Harbor Avenger. Between 1943 and 1945 she was deployed on 9 war patrols each lasting about 2 months. She was enroute for her 10th patrol when the war ended. She sank 17 large ships, primarily cargo ships, and a host of smaller ships during her 9 patrols.

USS Bowfin battleflag
Lets take a look inside:
You enter through the deck into the forward torpedo room. She has six tubes forward.

Officers Mess

Officers' compartment

Yes, those hatches really are that small. I was waiting for the two girls to clear the shot and then I decided that they were pretty good scale indicators.

I have never seen so many dials and gauges in my life

The galley

Enlisted Mess

a bunkroom, I think there must have been a deck under this that we were not allowed on. I'm still trying to figure out how 80-100 men were aboard this boat during a patrol.

One of the four massive diesel engines. These are General Motors' V16 engines.

A small machine shop is on board.

I have no idea what this panel does but I could only get a picture through the hatch. I think its the throttles for the engines as its as the back of the second engine compartment.

The four rear torpedo tubes.

4" deck gun, used quite frequently according to what I read.

Looking forward to the bow, that is the 20mm AA gun forward.

40mm Bofers on the rear deck of the conning tower

There are a lot more pictures but I thought I should only include the better ones here. My brother has been on the U-505 in Chicago and he says this one is like a palace in comparison.


  1. Thanks for all the photos!

    Pretty crazy to think that the US built over 200 of the Gato/Balao/Tench class boats during the war.

    Also appreciate the French flags on the Bowfin battle flag!

    1. The French ship that was sunk was one captured and being used by the Japanese. The second one is a Philippine Presidential Unit Citation earned for the first patrol.

  2. Awesome pics. I once spent the night on an old British naval ship and it was surprising how small the spaces that crew live in. Amazing experience for teenage me.

    1. I bet! The inside of the Missouri is quite a different experience from the Bowfin.

  3. As for how they fit 100 men on board... very tightly. My uncle was on a Vietnam era boat (conversion of a Balao) and as I recall he had a hammock in the torpedo room, rather than a bunk.

    1. There are bunks in the torpedo room, right above the torpedoes but there is room to sling hammocks in there too. Interesting thought and obviously there is a lot of hot bunking going on as well.

  4. Ex Navy (RN), so all familiar apart from how clean it is. U-505 looked more workmanlike. Only submarine I was ever on was American and only swapping flags for zippos.

    1. Then spend a lot of time polishing the brass on the Bowfin that's for sure. I'm not sure which class of U-Boat 505 is I should look that up and see where it fits in the timeline.