Touring the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park
One of the most popular sites at Pearl Harbor is located right next to the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. In addition to an impressive vessel, it features are both indoor and outdoor exhibits, as well as a waterfront memorial to the 52 submarines and over 3500 men who perished during World War II. Read on for some helpful information for touring the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park.
Launched exactly one year after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the USS Bowfin (SS-287), was dubbed the “Pearl Harbor Avenger.” She went on to become one of the most decorated submarines of the Pacific Theater, credited with sinking more than a dozen enemy vessels.
After her final decommissioning in 1971, the USS Bowfin could have become just another vessel of the US Navy broken down and sold for scrap. Instead, the iconic submarine was in for a better fate: to serve as a lasting reminder of how the United States picked itself up after the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor and went on to win the War in the Pacific.
Today, the Bowfin resides at Pearl Harbor as the centerpiece of the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park, dedicated to the Bowfin and submarine history. The site is open to the public and is an essential stop for Pearl Harbor visitors.
What’s In the Museum?
The Bowfin offers visitors over the age of four the opportunity to explore the inside of a real World War II-era submarine. Get a feel for life under the sea in cramped conditions, and you'll gain new respect for these brave sailors.
The museum highlights much more than just the Bowfin. It’s a complete collection dedicated to submarines, from their weapons to their bells to their flags. Exhibits are split up between outdoor and indoor displays.
Inside the museum, you’ll find artifacts from the Bowfin, including her bell, battle flag, and a Purple Heart given to the Bowfin’s only wartime casualty, Reid Lee. There’s also a large display of a Poseidon C-3 missile, dissected to show the inner workings of this fearsome weapon of war.
Outside, you’ll find the Waterfront Memorial dedicated to the 52 submarines and their men lost during World War II. Other exhibits include Regulus, a nuclear-armed cruise missile developed during the Cold War and the Kaiten, a Japanese manned torpedo based on the Type 93 “Long Lance” torpedo.
The admission charge for visiting the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park includes an audio tour, available in multiple languages, and in regular and kid-friendly versions.
Can I Bring a Bag?
Though you may be tempted to bring along a bag, you won’t be able to board the Bowfin with a backpack, purse, fanny pack, luggage, camera bag, or diaper bag. In fact, bags of any kind are not allowed anywhere at Pearl Harbor. There is a flat-rate bag storage facility near the entrance.
Savvy visitors know to not bring anything that can’t be carried in their pockets.
Is There Food Available?
A day at Pearl Harbor can be a long one, and the inability to pack a snack bag can make people grouchy. Luckily, there is a snack bar near the Bowfin that will help keep stomachs from grumbling.