Historic Pearl Harbor
WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument
Saturday, February 18
We'd planned to spend the day exploring Honolulu and environs, and at the top of the list was a visit to Pearl Harbor, and its very important historical attractions related to the World War II attack by Japan in 1941. Pearl Harbour is a very popular destination -- especially the memorial to the sunken USS Arizona Battleship -- and we knew from research that it was common for visitation slots for the memorial, given on a first-come first-serve basis, sometimes ran out on busy days. So, our plan was simple: most people don't like getting up early, so we would get up early, be there early, and avoid disappointment.
The Pagoda Hotel
The Pagoda Hotel, while providing a relatively straightforward room, proved to be more than sufficient to let us get a good night's sleep. It had rained on and off again during the night, and the streets were still damp as we left the hotel bright and early. We made our way west on interstate H-1, soon arriving (after a slight navigation error) at the Valor in the Pacific National Monument, right around 7 a.m.
Valor in the Pacific NM
There are many strict warnings about not being able to bring any sort of hand bags, camera bags, or other items, so I dutifully went to the baggage check area and deposited everything except for my camera and one extra lens, which I would carry in my hands. Meanwhile, Jenn and Brian got in line to purchase tickets for the various sites we'd be visiting during the day: the USS Arizona memorial, the USS Bowfin submarine, and the USS Missouri battleship. We figured that would be more than enough, and skipped the option of visiting the Pacific Aviation Museum.
Valor in the Pacific NM grounds
The USS Arizona memorial involves watching a short historical movie, then getting on a park service boat for the ride to the memorial (the memorial is only accessible via water). The first visitation was at 8:00am, but those were already sold out, so we got tickets for the 8:30 showing. That left us more than enough time to fit in a visit to one of our other objectives - the USS Bowfin submarine. So, we did that first.
USS Arizona Anchor
The USS Bowfin is an attack submarine that was active during the second world war against targets in the pacific ocean. The submarine was built in 1942 and was launched on December 7, 1942 - exactly one year after the infamous Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Serving for some decades after the second world war in various functions, it was ultimately decommissioned in 1971 and sent to Pearl Harbor, where it was eventually restored and put on display as a floating museum. A museum that we had now come to visit.
Submarine Memorial and Bowfin
The Bowfin is positioned just a few feet offshore right at the visitor center, so it was a simple matter to walk over and cross the sturdy steel gangplank onto the deck of the submarine. This vessel was from an era before of large nuclear powered vessels, and I was immediately struck by how narrow it was.
We had decided to take advantage of the wireless audio guide provided with our admission tickets. It was quite useful - punching in the audioguide numbers into a handheld unit at various indicated points along the way yielded useful clips of information and history about the submarine.
Our exploration of the ship started at the front, where we descended to the main internal deck and visited all of the major sections of the ship, from torpedo room through to galleys, living quarters, engine room, etc.
Plane and Depth indicators
Brass pipes, ballast system
I always find it fascinating to visit the 'tech' of a bygone era, and this visit was no exception. It's easy to think of those living decades or centuries ago as being backwards and and lacking much in the way of skill and innovation, but visiting a fully-restored museum piece such as this puts much of that thinking into the toilet. Sure, the instruments are analog, and the microprocessor had not yet been invented. However, it is clear that many of the technical hurdles were handled quite adroitly by the engineers and operators of the USS Bowfin - Instruments and displays had logical layouts with clear thought given to usability and readability. Protocols, instead of being programmed into computing devices and transmitted over networks, were carefully engraved into signs and placards on or around various controls.
Walking through the engine room
Ultimately we ended up at the stern of the ship where we popped back up onto the deck and made our way back on top. There we met with a most determined little cleaning lady, who insisted on taking Jenn's camera and taking multiple pictures of us with various bits of the submarine as backdrop.
Target lock: Carrier deck!
Conning Tower, USS Bowfin