Preserved as a living tribute to the heroic men of the U.S. Navy's submarine service during World War II, the U.S.S. Pampanito is tied up at Pier 45 for daily tours.
Pampanito Home Ported in San Francisco
The Pampanito (SS-383) is a Bilbao-class Fleet submarine that was designed for long-range patrols as long as 11,000 miles. A massive restoration program has returned the submarine to its fighting condition. Tourists can crawl through the interior of the Pampanito, examining torpedo firing tubes, peer out of the periscope in the conning tower and see the vessel's engine room. The Pampanito can sail under its own power and starred in the Hollywood movie Down Periscope with Kelsey Grammar and Lauren Holly. The submarine hadn't made an ocean voyage in 50 years.
Best of the Fleet
Pampanito was the height of U.S. Navy submarine technology, learned from four years of combat with the Japanese Fleet. Pampanito could sail for as long as 75 days and operated at a depth of 600 feet. The Pampanito was well armed with six forward firing torpedo tubes and four in the aft section of the boat. A five-inch gun mount was on the forward section of the boat for surface engagements and 20-millimeter and 40-millimeter antiaircraft guns protected the crew from Japanese warplanes. Ten officers and 70 enlisted men sailed in the steel-hulled warship to the coastline of Japan.
Six War Patrols during World War II
Commissioned as a warship in November 1943, the submarine quickly joined in the Pacific War. The Pampanito made six war patrols sinking six Japanese vessels, damaging four and rescuing 73 allied servicemen from the sea. During its first and second patrols, Pampanito was damaged by enemy depth charges while attacking Japanese ships. During the Pampanito's third patrol, she was sailing with USS Growler and USS Sealion in the South China Sea. The three submarines worked as a wolf pack and attacked a convoy of Japanese ships on the morning of September 12, 1944. The convoy was carrying supplies of rubber and oil but also two ships with 2,000 Allied prisoners. The Sealion sank one ship carrying 1,300 Allied troops and the Pampanito sank another with 900 prisoners of war. Returning to the area of the battle after pursuing other shipping, the submarines rescued many of the prisoners who survived. The Pampanito made two more patrols before returning to San Francisco in 1946. The submarine was placed into mothballs but sailed briefly as a reserve-training vessel in the 1960s. Stricken from the Navy rolls in 1971, the Pampanito was transferred to the San Francisco Maritime Museum and opened to the public in 1982. More than 250,000 tourists visit the submarine each year. As part of its educational and community outreach programs, school-age children can spend the night on board the Pampanito.
Hours of Operation and Location
The Pampanito is open for tours seven days a week. Adults are charged $6, adults over 62 are admitted for $4, children 6 to 12 years old are $4 and children under 6 years are admitted free. Active duty military are admitted for $4 with military identification. A special family rate of $20 will pay for two adults and up to four children below 18 years old. Summertime hours for the Pampanito are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.
For more information about the U.S.S. Pampanito, call 415-774-1943.