Monday, February 09, 2009
Now back to my trip to Hawaii, and the visit to Pearl Harbor. After the Arizona Memorial, the next stop on the Pearl Harbor museum loop is the U.S.S. Bowfin, a World War II era submarine that went on nine very successful patrols between 1943 and 1945.
I've often read about how cramped those old submarines were. However, walking through the tiny pressure hull really brought it home. Imagine weeks and months at a time trapped in such a small place with so many other stinky men. Yet these sailors did their part in ending the war, starving the home islands of raw materials, especially the oil that was the life's blood of the Japanese war machine.
In the Pacific theater, the American submarine force succeeded in doing what Kriegsmarine tried to do to Britain in the battle of the Atlantic. As the war dragged on, ever fewer numbers of the vital tankers and transports made it to the factories on the Japanese Home Islands. However, this success came at a high cost. The American submarine force suffered 22 percent total casualties, 47 lost submarines, around 3,500 sailors and officers. This was the highest rate of loss for any branch in the US Forces during World War 2. However, this was nothing compared to the rate of submarine loss for the Japanese and the Germans, 128 and 781 respectively.