Pearl Harbor

A couple of days ago we left Kauai and made our way to another of the Hawaiian islands; Oahu. That’s where Honolulu is located, and Pearl Harbor. Yesterday we paid a visit to the museum and war memorial where the Americans were caught off guard by Japan on the 7th of December 1941. We purchased a ticket (only a total of $59) for three of the attractions; The Battleship Missouri, the Pacific aviation museum, and the submarine USS Bowfin.

The Battleship Missouri

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Also known by her nickname “Mighty Mo”, she was christened by Margaret Truman, daughter of Harry Truman, who later became the US President. The fact that the Missouri was christened by Truman’s daughter, made it “his ship”, and so there was no coincidence that the Missouri was chosen as the place for Japan to officially surrender. The Missouri was anchored in Tokyo bay and the Japanese were invited on board September 2nd, 1945. General MacArthur made a short speach, and then the documents for surrender were signed. It took place right here on this deck.

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We were allowed to walk freely around most of the ship. Very fascinating indeed to be on board such a mighty battleship. In fact, the Missouri stayed in service all the way from WWII through the Persian Gulf War. Naturally, she went through some modernization over the years, and had for example Tomahawk missiles installed. Here’s a photo from the missile control center. One can only imagine the amount of fire power and the destruction that has been carried out from this room.

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The Pacific aviation museum

Spread out in two big hangars, plus a few planes outside, the aviation museum had a vast display of various warbirds from WWII and all the way up to modern times.

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The impressive exhibition also included some enemy airplanes, such as this Japanese Mitsubishi Zero from WWII.

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And here’s a Russian MIG, still airborne.

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The USS Bowfin

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I had never been on, or should I perhaps say inside, a submarine before. So this was an exciting finish of the tour. As we boarded the Bowfin, we were handed head sets which provided a full one hour audio tour. The audio tour was absolutely great, as it mostly had recordings and explanations of former crew members. Being on board a submarine during WWII was both an effective way of doing damage to the enemy, but it was also a great risk involved. A total of 19% of the US submarines were destroyed during WWII. As explained by former crew members, there was nothing more depressing than chasing a target for maybe ten hours, and then miss it, or worse, have a torpedo malfunction. Especially in the early phases of the war, a lot of torpedos malfunctioned. In the worst cases, the torpedo actually turned around and came back towards the submarine! Here’s the torpedo room on board the Bowfin.

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Following a torpedo launch it was standard drill to go into “Quiet mode”. This meant diving to depths to as much as 600 feet (180 meters), and turning off most of the equipment to avoid being detected and destroyed. There was no such luxury as air condition, and it’s a pretty small place, so sweat was dripping into big pools every time the Bowfin went into Quiet mode.

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In order to keep morale high on board, the crew of a submarine enjoyed good and varied food, better than what was served in the rest of the Navy. In addition, the dress code was more casual on board a submarine. Here’s a photo of the dining area, which was also used by the men to socialize when they had time off. Many a card game has been played here.

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