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USS PAMPANITO
WWII Submarine on San Francisco Bay

USS Pampanito Submarine at Fisherman's Wharf photoIt remains as one of the few seaworthy submarines which saw action during the Second World War. Other submarines can be tour in museums, in sections or replicas, but the USS Pampanito is found moored at the dock of Pier 45 in San Francisco, between the bay sightseeing cruise boats of Red Fleet and just the next to the dockside museum of mechanical arcade curios (see Musee Mechanique) on Fisherman’s Wharf. The USS Pampanito, designated a National Historic Landmark, is actually part of the San Francisco Maritime National Park (see San Francisco Maritime Museum). While the sailing ships of the Maritime Park are tethered a few piers down at Hyde Pier beyond the seafood restaurants, the submarine is tied to the former cruise dock, moored in front of the SS Jeremiah O’Brien “Liberty Ship” as if in a scene from a World War Two movie, or awaiting its next mission to set to sea to disrupt Japanese shipping in the South Pacific.

Deck 5 inch gun Pampanito photoThe USS Pampanito, SS-383 is a Balao class fleet submarine constructed at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard of New Hampshire and launched on July 12, 1943. This heroic submarine sank 6 Japanese ships and damaged 4 more, sending over 27,000 tons of war cargo shipping to the bottom during six patrols as one of an elite force of United States under sea vessels which that helped turn the tide of World War II in the Pacific, Pampanito made six patrols during World War II. The Pampanito was heavily damaged and barely survived depth charges during its first tour, spotted and tracked by a Japanese destroyer during its attack on a convoy. In its best known incident, in September of 1944, while part of “wolf pack” sub patrol, the USS Pampanito, along with the USS Sealion and USS Growler, attacked a Japanese convoy transporting mostly oil and rubber, sinking several ships. In the midst of the convoy unknown to the American subs was a ship carrying 2,000 British and Australian POWs. The next day, the Pampanito returned to the site of the attack and heard the voices of men shouting in English, clinging to floating debris from the Rakuyo Maru sunk by a torpedo from the Sealion. The Pampanito rescued 73 of the survivors and called in three other subs to pick up others.

WWII Submarine Pier 45 San Francisco photoThe USS Pampanito is 311 feet, 9 inches from nose to stern fin, carried a crew of 10 officers and 70 enlisted men, and was armed with 10 torpedo tubes, 6 forward and 4 aft, with a 5 inch deck gun and a top speed of 23 knots on the surface and 11 knots submerged. The USS Pampanito earned 6 battle stars and was decommissioned on December 15, in 1945 following the end of the war. She was reinstated as a training ship in 1960 until 1971. The Pampanito also served duty for Hollywood, appearing as the fictional USS Stingray in the 1995 Kelsey Grammar movie Down Periscope. Look for the broom on her mast, signifying a “clean sweep” of successful patrol sweeping the enemy from the seas.

The USS Pampanito submarine is a floating museum. A tour down the tight hatches and through the cramped quarters is self-guided with an audio tour, featuring voices and stories of the crew and its history. Open daily from 9 am to 8 pm mid-May to mid-October, except on Wednesdays when it closes at 6. And from October through May open 9 am to 6 pm Sunday to Thursday and until 8 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Admission is $9 for adults, $6 for seniors, $4 for 6-12 and active military, free for children under 6 and military in uniform. The audio tour is a separate charge of $2. The Pampanito is included with the San Francisco
Go Card discount pass. © Bargain Travel West

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