Saturday, 23 November 2019

USS Pampanito

I was fortunate enough to visit Northern California recently and along the way visited the USS Pampanito , a WW2 US submarine docked in San Francisco. It is only 20 USD to look around, but very few people seemed willing to stump up.

The Pampanito fought in the latter half of WW2 and bears a distinct resemblance to a U Boat. She sank six Japanese ships and participated in the rescue of 72 Allied POWs abandoned at sea by the Japanese when their transports were sunk. 

Aft torpedo room, four tubes and four reloads. The boat was armed with both steam and electric torpedoes. 

Steam torpedoes, one with a cut away warhead.

Heads in the aft torpedo room. I was lucky enough to have the run of the boat to myself. 

Battery power controls in the aft manoeuvring room. 

Compartment door. I turned out to be a bit big for submarining and managed to bang my head on one of these. I've been on subs before and avoided that, but hey ho.

Aft engine room. A pair of ten cylinder diesel engines. The air vents to feed them are scarily huge holes in the hull.

Engine controls. 

Cutaway of the drive chain. 

The desalination plant, two water purifiers. The primary use was keeping the batteries topped up, with drinking and washing water as secondary considerations. 

Forward engine room. 

A tiny washroom. 

Crew bunks. Rather fewer bunks than crew, but these seem to be made of luxurious leather. The stowage lockers under the bunks were minute.


Tiny radio shack. 

The control room. Dive, dive, dive! Sadly the conning tower was off limits.

The Christmas Tree. Don't dive unless all the lights are green (red is an open hatch or valve). 

Dive control and depth gauge. Just like the movies. 

Yeomans  Station. At this point I noticed that the sub was actually floating in the ocean (unlike the other three subs I've been  on)  and the wave motion in the enclosed space was very soothing. 

Captains cabin, complete with depth and compass repeaters. 

Officers Mess. 

And a tiny supplementary officers galley. 

One of the two sonar extenders. These pushed the sonar apparatus out through the hull. 

Cutaway torpedo in the forward torpedo room. Six tubes and six reloads here. 

Forward tubes, two of them are open. 

Illuminated  tube. 

Loaded tube. 

Top of the pressure hull under the decking. 

3" deck gun. 

Twin Oerliken AA mount. 

Deck gun breech. 

Another AA mount, 40mm Bofors this time.

Back along the deck. The SS Jeremiah O'brien is moored in the distance. 

The conning tower. Unfortunately this was closed to the public. 

That was a really good morning, well worth the entrance fee and I'm amazed more people weren't on board. The sub is beautifully preserved and very atmospheric. I did have a moment of sadness however. My grandfather was a Japanese POW and lost his life on a Japanese transport when it was sunk in 1944. Sadly the Pampanito wasn't around to rescue him, but I'm glad she did manage to pick some prisoners up from the ocean.