At USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park there are many different exhibits the whole family can enjoy. Besides the submarine itself we have a submarine museum with many exciting exhibits inside, as well as many fantastic outdoor exhibits.
The USS Bowfin Bell was missing after her move between San Diego, California and Seattle, Washington. In 1996 the bell resurfaced and was offered to the museum. Three naval reservist in California volunteered to verify its authenticity and within months, the Bowfin and her bell were reunited.
Another exhibit is Bowfin’s second battle flag, which was stored in Bowfin crew member Jack Updegraff’s parents’ attic and forgotten about for almost 50 years! It was rediscovered and donated to Bowfin Museum’s collection just in time for the crew’s reunion on the boat.
Other exhibits include a Bowfin launching cachet and a Purple Heart that was bestowed upon crew member Reid Lee, the only Bowfin casualty of war. Lee received shrapnel wounds during a surface engagement on the seventh patrol. The Purple Heart, a decoration instituted by Gen. George Washington, is named after the only type of wood capable of withstanding the constant stress of repeated firing.
Hanging from the ceiling beams in the World War II section of the museum are replicas of submarine battleflags of many submarines that fought in the Pacific. Because these flags are unofficial and were individually designed by the crewmen of the different boats, the creativity, style and design of each varies. The one element common to all of them is the pride of the men who served. Many of the flags were made with materials that were found on the boats and sewn by the members of the crew.
Generally, a submarine’s battleflag included a mascot in caricature, a record of how many enemy ships were sunk and important commendations awarded to the boat (the Presidential Unit Citation, for example). Damaged ships, airmen rescued, mines laid and other special missions were also indicated on the flags.
The Poseidon C-3 missile, with all of its electronics, hydraulics and propulsion elements still intact, is on display for visitors to examine at USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park.
This massive cutaway mock-up weighs 12,000 pounds, is 34 feet long and is 74 inches in diameter. The C-3 strategic missile was capable of being launched from a submerged Fleet Ballistic Missile submarine. The first submarine to carry and launch a C-3 missile was USS James Madison (SSBN-627) in August 1970. The missile was donated to the Museum by the U.S. Navy through Lockheed Missile and Space Company, which manufactured the C-3 missiles for the Navy.
We have five submarine bells from WWII submarines. USS Narwhal (SS-167), USS Bowfin (SS-287), USS S-9 (SS-114), USS Snook (SS-279) and the famous USS Wahoo (SS-238). Each submarine was given a bell, but the bells were never taken with them on war patrols.