Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Hawaii 2015, Day 2 Part 2 - Bowfin Museum, Pearl Harbor

Wow, it's been a been a very busy week, but as promised/threatened, here are a bunch of pictures from the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum at Pearl Harbor. This was the 2nd of the 2 Pearl Harbor museums that I chose to visit on the afternoon of my first full day back in Hawaii, which I'd chosen to spend in my hometown of Aiea. 
The USS Bowfin was launched on December 7th, 1942, exactly one year after Pearl Harbor, and became known as "The Pearl Harbor Avenger". She served in the Pacific until the Japanese surrender. She then joined the Atlantic fleet and was actually based right here in NY, in the town of Tompkinsville in Staten Island, for a couple of years. She also served in the 1950's during the Korean War. She was in mothballs in Mare Island for the later 1950's, then travelled north to Seattle where she served as a Naval Reserve training sub during the 1960's. In the early 70's she was selected to become the museum boat she is today, in honor of the U.S. Submarine Force (in which my dad proudly served for many years, hence my particular interest in this museum). History condensed from Wikipedia; of course also has her history
The museum has both indoor and outdoor exhibits, plus the Eternal Patrol memorial, with tablets for each of the 52 submarines that were lost (with over 3,500 officers and crew) during WWII. The Grayling caught my eye in particular as my father served on a nuclear sub that was named in honor of the WWII vessel. 

The commanding officer of the USS Tang survived the sinking of his boat and later wrote Clear the Bridge!: The War Patrols of the USS Tang a book that gives an excellent sense of the life of WWII submariners. I just pulled it off of my bookshelf, may be time to revisit. 
After visiting the memorial, I headed on inside the museum building on shore. They've done a great job of putting together artifacts that tell the story of the submarine force from the earliest US submarines on up through today. 
The focus is primarily on the US, but there is a section of the exhibit that talks about the German u-boats. I've read Iron Coffins, of course, but this simple but chilling exhibit really brought home the terrible dangers these men faced. 

I didn't have a lot of time left before the museum closed and I didn't want to miss the Bowfin herself so I sort of rushed through, but I did grab a couple of pictures. This ropework  crown (made to be worn by the sailor playing King Neptune during the equator-crossing ceremony) struck me as something my artist friend Frank Hanavan might like to see, and might even try to make (he always has some interesting project going on), so this is for him.  
Getting up more into my dad's era - I think this is a missile control panel,
And this is an inertial guidance system that uses an ENORMOUS gyroscope.
A model of the USS Skipjack - this was another boat on which my dad served
Dad's got 3 of these.
Now aboard the Bowfin. You come down into the torpedo room.
Engine order telegraphs - classic!
Driving the boat! There was a lovely volunteer who saw me walking through on my own, grabbed my camera, and walked me through a whole series of pictures. I didn't get her name but that was so nice of her! More of those to come.
Helmsman's station
I think these were for the diving planes. 
Lots of copper and brass
Pretending to buff the copper
Crew quarters
Engine room
Interesting juxtaposition of classic old engine order telegraphs of shining brass with much more modern-looking equipment on this old sub. 
Up on deck
I was the last visitor so my photographer followed me up -

Beautiful bird of paradise - couldn't resist one more picture as I left the grounds. 

Next (and really final) stop of the day was at Aiea Chop Suey, where I was meeting Facebook friend Keaka for dinner. This was actually funny - she asked me to pick someplace, and...well, I love my holdouts from small kid time but somehow I felt like asking her to come to Aiea to eat at a totally unfancy (but delicious) Chinese food place was asking too much. Of course I was being silly, she's far more of a woman of the islands than I am, and people who are really FROM there totally understand the value of the totally unfancy place with the solid good food - plus she actually doesn't live too far from there so she was completely into trying a local favorite. Seriously - Aiea Chop Suey looks almost exactly like it did when I was a kid - the vinyl on the banquettes is obviously not the same vinyl as I sat on as a kid, they've replaced that enough to keep it from looking shabby, but otherwise, it just hasn't changed - and the food is still fantastic. We had an excellent dinner and she sent me home with the leftovers, which made for several hearty breakfasts.

All in all, a great day back in the town where I grew up.


tugster said...

once again, a NYC connection!

bonnie said...

Yeah, she was right here in our own little corner of the world for a while! That made for a fun surprise to get as I was putting together my short history of the boat.

Lori Lavender Luz said...

I hadn't head of the Bowfin Museum. Guess I've got to go back to Oahu! Thanks for sharing this history with us.

bonnie said...

Yes, in addition to the Arizona Memorial, there are 3 other war museums at Pearl Harbor - the Bowfin, the USS Missouri (which I saved for my next visit) and an Aviation Museum. All worth a visit - so sorry to make you need to get back to Oahu, what a terrible inconvenience! ;)