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Aircraft Carriers






Torpedo Boats

Liberty Ships

Foreign Warships

Warships Associated With
World War II in the Pacific



Balao class

USS Pampanito
USS Pampanito, San Francisco, CA
(Photo by Russ Booth, 1984)

Name:USS Pampanito (SS-383)
Location:Fisherman's Wharf-Pier 45, San Francisco, California
Owner:The National Maritime Museum Association
Condition:Excellent, unaltered

Displacement:1,500 tons (surface) / 2,415 tons (submerged)
Length:312 feet
Width:27 feet
Fuel Oil Capacity:118,000 gallons
Maximum Speed:21 knots (surface) / 10 knots (submerged)
Cruising Range:22,000 miles
Maximum Depth:600 feet
Armament:Ten 21" torpedo tubes (6 forward, 4 aft), Twenty-four torpedoes (Mark 14 and Mark 18s used), one 4" 50mm deck gun, two 20mm guns
Crew:70 enlisted, 10 officers

Builder:Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Launched:July 12, 1943
Commissioned:November 6, 1943


USS Pampanito (SS 383) was built by the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and was commissioned on November 6, 1943. She is a fleet type submarine of the Balao class. Her deck is of teakwood and her exterior is painted haze gray and black. She is a pre-snorkle type submarine, operating underwater on batteries, and powered by four engines with a diesel system delivering 6,400 horsepower.

The crew consisted of 75 officers and enlisted men berthed in every available space, including, over the torpedo tubes. The submarine escaped the guppying process (the complete exterior and interior alteration that most World War II boats experienced after the war) and retains her original design and fittings. The boat is in excellent condition and is now open to the public as a museum ship at Pier 45 at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. [1]

Role of the Submarine in World War II

In the conflict against Japan in World War II, the role and importance of the submarine forces of the United States cannot be overestimated. American sub marines sank more than 600,000 tons of enemy warships and more than 5,000,000 tons of merchant shipping, thus destroying much of Japan's ocean commerce. This was accomplished by a force that never numbered more than two percent of naval personnel engaged in the war. The American submarine war against Japan created a blockade that denied her the oil, iron ore, food, and other raw materials she needed to continue to fight. By 1945 this submarine war made it almost impossible for any Japanese ship to sail the ocean. Without this commerce and the raw materials it supplied to her war effort, Japan found it impossible to continue the war outside of the homeland. [2]

USS Pampanito represents U.S. submarine forces that fought against Japan in World War II for the following reasons:

  1. USS Pampanito made six war patrols and is credited with sinking five enemy ships representing a total of 27,288 tons of shipping. USS Pampanito earned six battle stars for her World War II service.

  2. While on one of these patrols, USS Pampanito was called upon to assist in rescuing 73 of the 2,218 Australian and British POWs who were aboard the Japanese vessels Kachidoki Maru and Rakuyo Maru. These vessels were sunk by USS Pampanito and another American submarine, USS Sealion, operating in the same wolf pack as USS Pampanito which was called "Ben's Busters." The Japanese were transporting these POWs to Japan to use as slave labor to further their war effort. [3]

  3. USS Pampanito is now berthed in San Francisco, California, not far from the Mare Island Naval Shipyard where many World War II American submarines were built and serviced during that conflict. USS Pampanito was serviced at Mare Island during the war and was decommissioned there in 1945. As such USS Pampanito is representative of the role of this important facility, near San Francisco, in the support of the American submarine war effort.

  4. USS Pampanito is in excellent condition and retains her World War II integrity.


1. The National Maritime Museum Association, USS Pampanito (Information Brochure), (San Francisco, California: National Maritime Museum Association, no date), no page number.

2. Drew Middleton, Submarine--The Ultimate Navy Weapon--Its Past, Present and Future (Chicago, Illinois: Playboy Press, 1976), pp. 109-12.

Edwin P. Hoyt, Submarines at War--The History of the American Silent Service (New York: Stein and Day, 1983), pp. 297-98.

Richard H. O'Kane, Clear the Bridge (New Tork: Bantam Books, 1981), pp. 465-67.

3. The National Maritime Museum Association, USS Pampanito (Information Brochure), no page number.


Blair, Clay Jr. Silent Victory--The U.S. Submarine War Against Japan. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1975.

Hoyt, Edwin P. Submarines at War--The History of the American Silent Service. New York: Stein and Day, 1983.

Middleton, Drew. Submarine--The Ultimate Naval Weapon--Its Past, Present and Future. Chicago, Illinois: Playboy Press, 1976.

National Maritime Museum Association. USS Pampanito (Information Brochure) San Francisco, California: National Maritime Museum Association, no date.

O'Kane, Richard. Clear the Bridge New York: Bantam Books, 1981.

Roscoe, Theodore. United States Submarine Operation in World War II. Annapolis,Maryland: United States Naval Institute, 1965.


USS Pampanito USS Pampanito USS Pampanito

USS Pampanito USS Pampanito USS Pampanito

(click on the above photographs for a more detailed view)

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Last Modified: Fri, Aug 25 2000 12:00:00 pm PDT

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