USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park

The Real "First Avenger."

Hours of Operation

Open Daily
7:00 am - 5:00 pm

Location

11 Arizona Memorial Drive
Honolulu, HI 96818

Website

Bowfin.org

The two and a half acre USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park sits on the beautiful shoreline of historic Pearl Harbor and is located within the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. The USS Bowfin Submarine and the Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum, Waterfront Memorial and other 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 7am to 5pm (last admission at 4:30), closed on New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Admission is $15.00 for adults and $7.00 for children (4-12 years of age). Admission to the USS Bowfin includes admission to the museum. There are free self-guided audio tours of both the USS Bowfin and the Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum. These tours are available in English, Japanese, Mandarin, Korean, French, Spanish, German and French.

The USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park is operated by the Pacific Fleet Submarine Memorial Association (PFSMA). PFSMA is a private, non-profit membership 501(c) 3, organization chartered by 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 who sacrificed their lives during World War II.

Today, the USS Bowfin Submarine is moored proudly near the Arizona Memorial, ready to welcome visitors to the fabled era of WW II submarines and their crews. This is a place filled with tales of men who served under extreme conditions with strength, bravery and honor. Whether inspired by the sheer adventure of the journey or the amazing heroism of the crew, visitors come away from the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park enriched and inspired by the impressive role the US submariners played in winning the War in the Pacific.

A trip to Pearl Harbor is not complete without a visit to this fascinating destination, come and learn about US submarines, its crew and their history of undersea warfare; all in one incredible and friendly place!

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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 the destruction of 30 percent of the Japanese Navy, including eight aircraft carriers, one battleship and eleven cruisers. During Pacific War, the US Submarine Force sank nearly 1,400 Japanese Navy merchant ships, sending a totaling 5.5 million tons to the bottom of the ocean.

Launched 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 become 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.

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 are able to experience what it was like to live and work aboard a WWII-era submarine.

Touring the submarine itself 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 onboard, including how nearly everyone smoked on board, 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.

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 a challenge for slow walkers. Also, please be informed that for safety reasons children under four years of age are unable to tour the USS Bowfin. Although the Pacific Submarine Museum and grounds is wheelchair accessible, the submarine is not accessible by wheelchair.

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Tour the Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum

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 actually pioneered during the Revolutionary War). Some exhibits 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 crewmember of the USS Wahoo, a highly-decorated submarine known for her valor 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 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 free 30 minute self-guide audio tour. This incredible tour covers the history of submarine warfare; from the first attempts in 1776, through WWI, WWII, to the modern US submarines of today.

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Waterfront Submarine Memorial

Another important feature offered by this great destination is the Waterfront Submarine Memorial. Along the water, in the shadow of the USS Bowfin’s sleek profile 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.

We ask you to pause and reflect at the Bowfin’s Waterfront Submarine Memorial that overlooks tranquil Pearl Harbor. Read the fascinating stories about each of the 52 American submarine lost during WWII while paying tribute to more the 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.

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Visit an Authentic Japanese Suicide Torpedo

Discover an authentic Kaiten, manned Japanese Suicide Torpedo that survived WWII within the Bowfin Park. Forty-eight feet in length, 3 feet wide and packing a warhead of 3,420 lbs of explosion; this was a very deadly weapon was created to destroy the largest of the US warships.

This particular Kaiten was stationed in Guam by the Japanese to be manned and used against the US fleet during WWII during the battle for the Mariana Islands. This suicide Imperial Japanese Navy torpedo is one of the most popular displays offered at the USS Bowfin.

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 missile, 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.

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Bowfin’s Lanai Food Court

The most convenient and affordable place for lunch at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center is at the Bowfin Lanai Court. Here visitors can enjoy the Bowfin’s world famous dogs with all the topping, including chili and cheese. Alternatively, snack on the Bowfin’s Nachos or enjoy their variety of delicious soups. Open daily from 7am to 3pm. (Group meal plans are available, phone 808-423-1341 or email reservations@Bowfin.org).

Military Discounts

The USS Bowfin, like its Pearl Harbor Historic Site partners, offers free admission for US Military personnel in uniform. Military discounts are available if the US Military personnel are not in uniform and this admission discount includes those in their traveling party.

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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 the experience children by choosing something from the gift’s shops special “keiki” section featuring educational items perfect for young minds.

Group Discount and Packages

The USS Bowfin offers both adult and student groups programs. Group Meal Plans are available, please call 808-423-1341 or email reservations@Bowfin.org.

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Evening Events at the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park

The sunsets and evenings at Pearl Harbor are so beautiful and this very historic place is now available for your own private corporate functions.

Meeting Planners can now reserve their own private event at the USS Bowfin between 5:30 pm to 9:30pm. Both of the Bowfin tours can remain open for your functions. The USS Bowfin can host cocktail parties up to 600 delegates and sit down dinners up to 250 guests.

Stage, special lighting, entertainment and carter are possible for both national and international groups. The USS Bowfin even has its only bus depot for motor coach arrivals and departures, along with lots of free parking.

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Other interesting USS Bowfin statistics include:

Launched: 12/7/1942

Commissioned: 5/1/1943; Decommissioned: 2/12/1947

Recommissioned: 7/27/1951; Decommissioned & Stricken: 12/1/1971

Length: 311 feet, 10 inches

Maximum Beam: 27 feet, 3 inches

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

WWII Career: Nine war patrols, all taking place in the Pacific Theater. According to USS Bowfin’s log, 44 enemy vessels sunk (178,946 tons). The Joint Army-Navy Assessment committee (JANAC) credited Bowfin with 16 large vessels (67,882 tons), plus ten vessels of less than 500 tons each.

Awards: Presidential Unit Citation, Navy Unit Commendation, and Philippine Republic President Unit Citation.

USS Bowfin’s Post-War Career:

  • Re-commissioned for the Korean Conflict: 1951-1954.
  • Naval Reserve training boat: 1960-1971.
  • Museum duty: 1979-present.
  • Opened to the public: 4/1/1981.
  • Declared National Historic Landmark: 1986
  • Filmed in “War and Remembrance” TV series: March - June 1987.
  • Considered the best preserved and most visited submarine that served in WWII, over 9,000,000 visitors have come to pay their respects to this submarine and its Submarine Memorial.

Contact Info:

Phone: (808) 423-1341 Fax: (808) 422-5201

Website: www.bowfin.org

Donations & volunteering, please email: ExecutiveDirector@Bowfin.org

MISSION and PURPOSE

Mission: To create and maintain the finest submarine memorial in the World, to include a display of submarine related artifacts, and a Park and to support the Navy as appropriate – operating on a fiscally sound basis.

Purpose: To establish a Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum to serve as a memorial to those gallant Sailors who manned the Submarine Force in WWII, during the Cold War, today and into the future; to maintain as a centerpiece of this memorial museum the Fleet Submarine USS BOWFIN (SS 287), for permanent display in Hawaii, as an educational tool and as an inspiration to present and future generations; to create an Educational Outreach Program within the Community including an endowed Bowfin Scholarship Program; and be a centerpiece for public awareness and understanding of the Submarine Force including its evolution, history and future.

USS Bowfin Submarine’s Scholarship Fund

The USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park receives no federal, state or local government financial assistance. Proceeds after expenses, go towards its educational programs. In addition, the Board of Directors and management of the Bowfin are proud to have donated approximately over $900,000 to submariners and their families in scholarship funds since 1985. Please assist us in our mission to honor US Submariners and their families and to education the public of their sacrifice to our country’s freedom, please donate to:

USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park
11 Arizona Memorial Drive
Honolulu, Hawaii 96818