This World War II war ship has officially retired to the San Francisco Bay, where it is docked for visitors to enjoy. Commissioned in 1943, the Balao class Fleet submarine has a storied history that includes the sinking of six Japanese ships while patrolling the Pacific. It now operates as if a floating museum, with its original sleeping quarters, kitchen, dining room, and office open to the public. Walking through the living areas it’s possible to get a true sense of the camped quarters soldiers endured at sea for months at a time.
The ship’s museum (as a part of the larger San Francisco Maritime National Park Association) gives a glimpse into a unique time in naval history. Much of the submarine has been restored to its original working condition, including its torpedo tube, engine room, and periscope. The National Historic Landmark is one of the most visited historic vessels in the United States.
The USS Pampanito is docked at Pier 45 in San Francisco. Located along the Embarcadero at Fisherman’s Wharf, it’s open daily from 9 am to 8 pm for visits. Admission is $15 for adults, $11 for seniors, and $9 for children or active military. The Powell/Hyde cable car line stops here, and the SS Jeremiah O’Brien is docked right beside it. Audio and docent led tours are available.