Even in wartime, anniversaries are significant, which explains why the U.S. Navy launched the USS Bowfin, an attack submarine, on Dec. 7, 1942, one year after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and America’s entry into World War II.
Nicknamed “the Pearl Harbor avenger,” the sub and its crews are credited with nine wartime patrols, during which they sank between 16 and 44 enemy vessels. (The claims vary.) Since 1981, the vessel -- part of what the Navy called its "silent service" -- has welcomed 7 million visitors to its now-permanent home at Pearl Harbor on Oahu.
Guests can experience the cramped conditions that submariners endured and tour a dockside museum that details the history of submarines in combat as far back as the Civil War. Outdoors, 52 markers bear the names of the 3,600 U.S. submariners who died during World War II.
To commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Bowfin’s entry into wartime service, the museum is offering half-price admission -- $5 -- from Sunday-Dec. 8. Children younger than 12 are admitted free, but kids 4 and younger aren’t allowed on the boat for safety reasons.
From Sunday until Dec. 7, Dr. Robert Beynon, who served on the sub’s last two war patrols, will be at the museum to share his experiences with visitors and to autograph copies of his book, “Pearl Harbor Avenger.”
“Freedom always comes at a cost and this is evident for visitors who tour our waterfront memorial,” Jerry Hofwolt, the museum’s executive director and a retired submarine captain, said in a statement. “The USS Bowfin tells the story of … the extraordinary heroism of U.S. sub crews.”
The USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park is adjacent to the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center and is open 7 a.m-5 p.m. daily.